Anecdotal Evidence

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has joined the chorus of right-wing activists holding up a crime in Newark, New Jersey as cause for an anti-immigrant crackdown. Romney campaign is running radio ads in Iowa and New Hampshire attacking “sanctuary cities” that “become magnets that encourage illegal immigration and undermine secure borders.” The ads also mention New York City, in an indirect attack on fellow candidate and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who responded with his own attack accusing Romney of being soft on immigrants. The Wall Street Journal’s right-wing editorial page noted that their “attempt to one-up each other’s anti-immigration rhetoric” makes it seem that they’re running “for the job of vacation replacement for Lou Dobbs” rather than president of the United States, and cited a “record drop in violent crime during the Giuliani years, which coincided with an increase in immigrants to the city.”

But while these candidates use one tragic anecdote to rally anti-immigrant sentiment, they’re ignoring another anecdote: the arrest and deportation of Elvira Arellano, who had left the sanctuary of a church to raise awareness of undocumented parents, like her, of children who are U.S. citizens. Last year, groups like “Mothers Against Illegal Immigration” and the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps rallied for Arellano’s deportation and separation from her 7-year-old son, and now that that has occurred, anti-immigrant activists—those that Romney and Giuliani hope to curry favor with—are well pleased.

Federation for American Immigration Reform spokeswoman Joyce Mucci cried “thank goodness” at the deportation, which she said was “long overdue.” “”Unfortunately parents make bad choices that impact their children — and this is not any different,” Mucci said. Craig Roberts Smith called Arellano a “child abuser of the worst kind” for her purported “[n]eglect and abandonment” in the form of being deported. Christopher Orlet, writing in the American Spectator, mocked Arellano as an attention-seeker exploiting her “anchor baby” for the cameras, adding, “Elvira Arellano is back in Mexico, but if history is any indicator, she will soon be strapping on her waders and fording the Rio Grande.”