Gov. Jan Brewer is sticking to her comments that a majority of illegal immigrants coming into Arizona are being used as drug mules by cartels.
Just hours after those remarks to reporters June 25, the Governor’s Office sent out a statement seeking to clarify her position, but stopped short of saying she misspoke.
“The simple truth is that the majority of human smuggling in our state is under the direction of the drug cartels, which are by definition smuggling drugs. It is common knowledge that Mexican drug cartels have merged human smuggling with drug trafficking,” Brewer said in a statement. ““The human rights violations that have taken place victimizing immigrants and their families are abhorrent. Border crossers are used by drug cartels as commodities.”
The statement did not specifically address whether she still believes a majority of illegal immigrants from Mexico are smuggling drugs.
“We all know that the majority of the people that are coming to Arizona and trespassing are now becoming drug mules,” Brewer told reporters earlier in the day, following a speech at a Korean War commemoration ceremony. “The drug cartels have taken control of the immigration and illegal trespassing that we are seeing in the state of Arizona.”
The governor made those remarks after she was asked to elaborate on comments she made the week before during a debate when she said most of the people who illegally enter the United States aren’t looking for work.
Many illegal immigrants depart for the United States looking only for work, she said, but end up under the control of cartels.
“They are criminals. They’re breaking the law when they’re trespassing and they’re criminals when they pack the marijuana and the drugs on their backs,” she said.
Attorney General Terry Goddard, the Democratic nominee for governor, disputed Brewer’s assertion.
“The governor does not understand the difference between illegal immigration and the organized criminals who are members of the violent drug cartels who pose a very a real danger. While the governor is entitled to her own opinion, she is not entitled to make up facts,” Goddard said in a press statement.
A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the agency did not keep statistics on the percentage of illegal border crossers who are apprehended with drugs.