Fox Shelters AZ Gov. And Her Lawsuit From The Facts On Border Security

Fox News promoted Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's claim that the federal government has failed to “do its job” on border security without mentioning that border security efforts have increased measurably under President Obama: Deportations, drug seizures, and the number of Border Patrol agents have all increased.

Fox Promoted Brewer's Claims, Ignored Increase In Border Security Efforts

Brewer Accused Federal Government Of “Not Doing Its Job” On Border Security. Brewer and Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced they “filed suit against the federal government due to its constitutional failure to secure the border and protect Arizona citizens.” From a February 10 press release from Brewer's office:

Arizona's counterclaim is based on five simple points. The federal government has: failed to gain “operational control of the border,” as required under the Secure Fence Act of 2006; failed to enforce multiple federal immigration laws; failed to protect Arizona from economic harms and violence associated with illegal immigration, as mandated by the Constitution; been negligent in not reimbursing Arizona for more than $760 million in combined costs for the incarceration of illegal aliens under the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program; and has sought to pre-empt Arizona from its constitutional right and duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of its own citizens.

“While control of the border is a federal responsibility, illegal aliens who successfully cross the border and commit crime in Arizona become an Arizona responsibility,” said Attorney General Horne. “By not doing its job, and using its alleged 'pre-emption' rights to stop Arizona from performing its law enforcement obligations, the United States is violating Arizona's 10th Amendment rights.” [Arizona Office of the Governor, 2/10/11]

Fox News' Carlson: “Arizona Is Being Invaded And It's Up To Washington To Stop It.” On Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson cited the lawsuit, saying:

CARLSON: Arizona is being invaded and it's up to Washington to stop it. Governor Jan Brewer says that's the basis of a lawsuit filed by Arizona against the federal government. It's a countersuit to the Justice Department's claim that Arizona's immigration law usurps federal power. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/11/11]

Fox News' Van Susteren Hosted Brewer To Promote Her Lawsuit. On the February 10 edition of her Fox News show, Greta Van Susteren interviewed Brewer about the countersuit. At no point during the segment did Van Susteren attempt to provide balance to Brewer's claims about the federal government's “failure of not doing their job to not secure our borders, failure for not enforcing the immigration laws.” [Fox News, On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, 2/10/11, accessed via Nexis] Uncritically Repeated Brewer's Claims. In a February 10 article, reported that Brewer “claim[s] Washington has failed to enforce immigration law along the southern border.” The article repeatedly quoted Brewer but did not provide an opposing viewpoint or point to evidence that does not support Brewer's claims. [, 2/10/11]

By Contrast, CS Monitor Reported That Brewer's “Facts [Are] In Dispute.” From a February 11 Christian Science Monitor article about Arizona's countersuit:

Facts in dispute:

The suit came just two days after US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin on a visit here released data to show that the Southwest border is becoming more secure, not less.

Mr. Bersin offered as proof numbers showing that border patrol arrests dropped from 616,000 to 212,000 between 2000 and 2010, and he highlighted the increase in manpower -- 20,700 agents, more than double the number from 2004. [Christian Science Monitor, 2/11/11]

The Obama Administration Has Ramped Up Border Security Efforts

AP: “The US-Mexico Border Is More Fortified Now Than It Was Even Five Years Ago.” A June 2010 Associated Press article noted: “You wouldn't know it from the public debate, but the U.S.-Mexico border is more fortified now than it was even five years ago. Far more agents patrol it, more fences, barriers and technology protect it and taxpayers are spending billions more to reinforce it.” [Associated Press, 6/23/10]

There Are Currently More Border Patrol Agents “Than Ever Before In The History Of This Country.” The Obama administration has been increasing the number of Border Patrol officers on the southern border. In a July 2010 hearing of the House Committee on Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol chief Michael Fisher stated: “Currently we have over 20,000 Border Patrol Agents nationwide, more than ever before in the history of the country.” [House Homeland Security Committee Hearing, 7/22/10]

  • The Arizona Republic created the following chart showing the increase in border patrol agents since 2001:

[The Arizona Republic, 5/26/10]

Obama Signed $600 Million Border Security Bill For More Border Patrol Agents, Inspectors. On August 13, 2010, Obama signed a $600 million border security bill to “fund some 1,500 new border patrol agents, customs inspectors and other law enforcement officials along the border, as well as two more unmanned aerial 'drones' to monitor border activities.” [Reuters, 8/13/10]

Obama Added 1,200 National Guard Troops To Southwest Border. The Los Angeles Times reported in June 2010 that Obama “agree[d] to dispatch 1,200 National Guard troops to the border and to seek an extra $500 million for border enforcement. That came after 18 months in which the Obama administration has outdone its predecessor on border enforcement spending and deportations of illegal immigrants, all in an effort to build support for a comprehensive immigration plan.” [Los Angeles Times, 6/15/10]

More Than 500 National Guard Troops Were Sent To Arizona. The Arizona Republic reported in October 2010 that 560 of the 1,200 National Guard troops sent to the southern border are in Arizona “to reinforce an army of Border Patrol agents, port inspectors and others defending the nation from illegal immigration and drug smugglers.” [The Arizona Republic, 10/9/10]

Seizures Of Drugs, Weapons Along Border Have Increased. According to data reported by USA Today, border drug seizures have increased 16 percent. USA Today also reported that "[w]eapons seizures rose 28% and illicit-currency seizures were up 35% in fiscal 2009 and 2010." [USA Today, 2/9/11]

Deportations Have Increased Under Obama. According to data from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), nearly 100,000 more people were deported by ICE in both 2009 and 2010 than in 2007. [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, accessed 2/14/11]

Deportations of Criminals At Highest Levels. According to AZ Fact Check - a project of The Arizona Republic,, 12 News, and Arizona State University -- “ICE has removal numbers immediately available for only the past 10 fiscal years, and according to those figures, the most convicted criminals were indeed removed in fiscal 2010.” [, 2/9/11]

Immigration Prosecutions Are Up Under Obama. The Huffington Post reported on February 2:

As politicians call for more immigration enforcement and border security, a report released Wednesday found that the Obama administration is already focusing its efforts on immigration at the expense of other federal law-enforcement efforts.

Despite across-the-board staffing increases in federal law enforcement, only immigration enforcement -- particularly along the United States-Mexico border -- has increased substantially over the past two years, while other federal prosecutions in most of the country fell. Prosecutions for non-immigration felonies in non-border areas shrunk by 6 percent, according to government data analyzed by the nonpartisan Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.


Although illegal immigration levels fell due to slackened job growth, immigration prosecutions steadily climbed in recent years after immigration reform efforts failed in Congress. Felony immigration prosecutions along the border with Mexico grew by 77 percent between 2007 -- the year Bush's efforts to pass immigration reform were defeated -- and 2010, according to TRAC data. Over the same period, non-felony immigration prosecutions along the border surged by 259 percent.

Staffing levels and changes in policy, not the actual rate of crime, tend to account for changes in prosecution rates. Within immigration enforcement, sharp increases seem to indicate both larger staffs and a heightened focus on policing illegal immigration. Although the Obama administration built up federal law-enforcement personnel across the board, increases in immigration enforcement staffing were especially high. Over a two-year period, Immigration and Customs Enforcement increased its staff by 22 percent, while Customs and Border Protection grew by 21 percent. [Huffington Post, 2/2/11]

Obama Administration Has Cracked Down On Employers That Hire Illegal Immigrants. The Los Angeles Times reported on January 27:

Under Obama, cases against employers are up sharply: Immigration and Customs Enforcement quadrupled the number of employer audits after Obama took office, increasing the number of inspections and arrests against those who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. Businesses were fined $6.9 million in fiscal 2010, up from $675,000 in 2008. [Los Angeles Times, 1/27/11]

Obama Administration Significantly Expanded Border Enforcement Security Task Forces. Politico reported in May 2010, that the Obama administration “tripled the number of intelligence analysts along the southwest border” and “doubled agents assigned to the Border Enforcement Security Task Forces.” [Politico, 5/6/10]

  • According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, these teams “incorporate personnel from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other key federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies” to “collaborate and share information to fulfill the overarching goal: to interrupt the flow of cash, weapons and ammunition that fuel the illicit trade of the drug cartels.” [ICE, 1/8/10]

Data Show Crime Has Not Increased In Arizona

Both Violent Crime and Property Crime Have Fallen In Arizona. The AP reported in September 2010:

Crime in Arizona dropped sharply in 2009, with overall violent crime down by 13.9 percent.

FBI statistics released on Monday show murder and non-negligent manslaughter dropped by 22 percent in 2009. Last year, 354 people were victims of murder or manslaughter, compared to 454 people the year earlier.

Forcible rape was down by 3.8 percent, and both robbery and aggravated assault dropped by double digits.

Property crimes dropped by nearly 12 percent, lead by a 32 percent decline in motor vehicle theft.

Only South Dakota saw a larger drop in violent crime than Arizona.

Nationally, violent crime dropped by 5.3 percent and property crime decreased by 4.6 percent. [Associated Press, 9/13/10]

Crime In Arizona Has Been Falling For Years. The data for 2009 is consistent with a downward trend in crime that Arizona has seen over the past several years. As reported in July 2010, “From 2004 to 2008, data from Arizona's DPS shows a 23 percent drop in the overall crime rate, while the FBI's statistics on Arizona show a 19 percent drop.” [, 7/7/10]

Crime In AZ Border Towns Has Remained Flat Or Declined. On August 12, 2010, AZ Fact Check noted that while crime on the Mexican side of the border has increased, crime in Arizona border communities has not:

FBI Uniform Crime Report data from Arizona border counties and towns show that violent crime and homicides have remained flat or in several cases decreased slightly from 2004 to 2008, the most recent available numbers. For example, there were 77 violent crimes reported in Nogales in 2004 compared with 69 in 2008. There were 716 violent crimes reported in Cochise County in 2004 compared with 446 in 2008. [, 8/12/10]

Crime In Phoenix At Lowest Level In 25 Years. reported on January 31:

Crime has dropped in Phoenix to its lowest level in 25 years, according to Mayor Phil Gordon and police Chief Jack Harris.

Gordon said there were 700 fewer victims of violent crime in 2010 compared with 2009.

And overall crime is down for the fourth straight year, he said, which is consistent with the drop in crime rates across the country. [KPHO-TV Channel 5, 1/31/11]

Brewer Admitted That Crime Is Down In Arizona. From the June 1, 2010, edition of CNN's John King USA:

KING: There are drugs coming across the border. But if you look at FBI statistics, they actually say despite these awful things that violent crime is essentially at a flat rate, even down a little bit. And some would say that, yes, you know, there have been some horrible incidents, but in total, crime's actually down. There's not a need for this.

BREWER: In regards to illegal immigration crime or to what kind of crime? Crime is down in Arizona. The fact of the matter is, if you're living in Arizona and you are living in the areas that are severely impacted, you are faced with it on a daily basis. And we're not going to put up with it anymore. We have borders. Every nation has reasons to have lines, borders, might you say, you know? And a nation without borders is like a house without walls. It collapses. And that's what's going to happen to America. We need our borders secured. [CNN, John King USA, 6/1/10]