We’re surprised it took this long for an Arizona politician to link the ongoing wildfires to illegal immigration.
But John McCain took the lead on the low-key racism this weekend, by telling the media that he could tell – and had no doubt – that illegal Mexican immigrants set his home state on fire.
In a press conference after touring the scorched fire-damaged areas, the former presidential candidate said “there is substantial evidence that some of these fires have been caused by people who crossed our border illegally.”
In addition to following forest maintenance measures, McCain said a solution to future fires would be a “secure border” to keep immigrants from coming into the US and setting campfires.
“They have set fires because they want to signal others. They have set fires to keep warm and they have set fires in order to divert law enforcement agents and agencies from them,” he said Saturday.
A U.S. Forest Service official told CNN on Sunday that while the widespread blaze was believed to have been caused by one “escaped campfire,” there was no reason to believe illegal immigrants were behind it.
And we’re sure you can imagine how Latinos felt about that one.
Angelo Falcon, the president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, slammed McCain for looking for cheap votes.
“The degree of irresponsible political pandering by Sen. McCain has no limits,” Falcon wrote in an email to CNN. “With the lack of evidence, he might as well also blame aliens from outer space for the fires.”
The Phoenix New Times called the statement ‘racist’ and unsubstantiated in a blog post.
“The statement is patently racist, as the “illegal immigrants” he’s referencing are not Canadians overstaying their visas, but migrants coming into the country via the Mexican-American border, almost all of whom are Latino,” the paper snarkily pointed out.
Poor John McCain probably doesn’t even understand why anyone would think that was a racist statement.