TaylorCarr.com Four facts about the Arizona immigration controversy

Four facts about the Arizona immigration controversy

Posted in Featured Post on Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 at 4:37 pm 3 Comments

Note – This post illustrates the importance of “getting in front” of a story before the news media take off with it. Arizona was never in front of this story. It also shows what happens when passionate people get involved and how the news media can consistently get the facts wrong.

I can tell you four facts about the Arizona immigration controversy.

1.   Gov. Jan Brewer and the legislature didn’t see this backlash coming.
2.  They should have seen it coming.
3.  Arizona IS being hurt by the backlash
4.  A lot of the national and world media coverage is still getting the story wrong.

1. They didn’t see it coming. You may not like the Republican governor, or the GOP-controlled house and senate in Arizona, but no one would intentionally bring this kind of negative PR to the state. You think they conspired to make a law that could cost the state so much in revenue and image?

2. They should have seen it coming. Arizona already had some negative civil rights mojo to overcome, most notably from the Martin Luther King Day fiasco of the ‘80s and ‘90s, which cost the state a Super Bowl and helped create a negative image.

It’s a communication truism that those who are passionate about issues or causes love to overreact, thinking it helps their cause.  (What overreaction does is intensify the image or stereotype for those who already passionately believe it. But at the same time it cements the opinions/emotions of those who are opposed. Think of ideas that stir emotion in you, and how you infer credibility on those who agree with you, and infer lunacy on those who don’t.)

Unfortunately, the immigration/civil rights debate was waiting to explode in Arizona.

3. Arizona is being hurt. The Letterman/Comedy Central/Leno/Saturday Night Live buzz alone sets the state’s image back 10 years. (Letterman from May 5: “It’s so hot in Arizona that folks are fanning themselves with their birth certificates.”) Los Angeles just joined a growing list of cities officially boycotting Arizona. LA’s business is said to total about $50 million in canceled contracts. Some conventions have canceled, others may cancel, and hotel room bookings are down. Potential losses to tourism alone are being estimated in the hundreds of millions. Tough numbers to quantify, but there has been an impact. And there’s going to be more.

4. The media are still getting it wrong. Yesterday Reuters reported that five U.N. officials were concerned that the law could lead to human rights violations. The Reuters piece said “the Arizona law requires police to determine if people are in the country illegally.”

Actually the law allows police to ask for proof of citizenship only when making “a stop, detention or arrest … in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state.”

SB 1070 might still be a bad law, but it’s hard to make an informed judgment based on media reports we’ve observed. The NY Times got it wrong in a George Vecsey piece in the May 8 sports section (Walking Tentatively in Protesters Shoes). Vecsey said the law “empowers law-enforcement officers to stop anybody who appears to be an illegal immigrant.” That’s flatly incorrect.

(Please note —  Reuters and Vecsey aren’t getting the facts wrong on purpose, they’re just practicing lazy journalism. What you’ll hear is that this is another example of media bias. This is a topic for another blog, but the vast majority of so called “media bias” is really just bad reporting.)

How does Arizona counter all the bad information out there? Since the legislature has adjourned, it’s up to the governor. Her ideal message: This law was never meant to be enforced. It was meant to shine a light on the inadequate federal laws on immigration. Unfortunately, that would be irresponsible government. And just as unfortunately, it’s true.

3 Comments to “Four facts about the Arizona immigration controversy”

  1. BruGuy says:

    Great Post! I had no idea how deep the problems are, or how much business is being affected in Arizona

  2. Taylor says:

    Thanks for coming to the site. There’s been some piling on, that’s for sure. And some plain bad timing. Yesterday the Republican National Committee chose Tampa over Phoenix for the 2012 national convention. That was bound to happen though, because Florida will be so critical for the GOP in 2012. (But really…. the Arizona bid also combined two things that should not be experienced at the same time: Phoenix and August.)

  3. CW says:

    It would seem that a nationwide approval rating or the law of up to 75% (depending on which poll you choose) would indicate that AZ has a base of support, but lacks a delivery system for its message. It seems those in the minority viewpoint are controlling the message much more effectively, thanks in part to the “lazy” journalists of whom you referred.
    Just as we’ve seen in many other issues, the facts can get buried in creative copy (Late night talk shows) or ignored in poor journalism (NY Times, etc). Emotions win in the end, right or wrong.

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