Cathie Adams, president of the Texas chapter of Phyllis Schlafly’s far-right group Eagle Forum, is one of the biggest promoters of hysteria and fear-mongering in the Lone Star State. That’s especially true when the former Texas Republican Party chairwoman talks about immigration.
Writing in Texas Eagle Forum’s October online newsletter, Adams says she traveled to the Texas-Mexico border recently to look at the problem of undocumented immigration firsthand. Her “report” includes this sensational item:
“In Laredo, we saw drug cartel watchdogs brazenly standing on street corners without any fear from the severely understaffed Sheriff’s department. We were told about a recent gun fight between Mexican drug gangs on the streets of Laredo. Big SUVs lined up on opposite sides of a line with gunmen’s arms and weapons hanging out the windows. There were so many killed in the gunfight that authorities brought in a flatbed truck to collect the dead bodies. Laredo authorities then warned citizens to avoid the city for three days, although the newspaper only reported a gang confrontation in which a couple people were wounded. Why the misinformation? So that tourists wouldn’t be afraid to visit the wild, wild west Texas-Mexico border city of Laredo!”
We wonder how such a bloody, massive gun battle between Mexican drug gangs in the streets of an American city somehow escaped the attention of the news media, and especially the right-wing media. Seems to us Fox News would have had a legion of reporters and talk show host detailing the collapse of civilization on the American side of the border.
In response to a request for information from the Texas Freedom Network, a Webb County spokesperson said he had heard of no such event occurring in Laredo, the county seat. But Adams apparently thinks there is some sort of coverup.
Of course, we wouldn’t be surprised to read about such a gun battle occurring across the border in Nuevo Laredo. Mexico’s drug wars in recent years have been vicious and bloody. But Adams wants folks to believe that those wars have caused streets on this side of the border to overflow with blood. (Perhaps Adams will now try to suggest that she really was talking about Nuevo Laredo. But the context makes it clear that she meant the Texas city of Laredo.)
Border warfare is a common theme on the far right days. Consider the efforts to portray border cities like El Paso as major crime hotspots because of the battles between drug gangs in Juarez just across the border. But statistics show that for years now El Paso has had the lowest crime rate among American cities with a population of more than 500,000. Right-wingers have also tried to demonize refugee children as disease-carrying gangbangers who are a threat to Texas public school kids.
Adams is especially reckless. Two years ago, for example, she wrote that “25 Americans or legal residents die each day at the hands of illegal aliens.” But according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, that stat was actually a made-up number from a six-year-old Internet essay by U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. King is one of the most extreme anti-immigrant voices in America today.
To be clear, undocumented immigration is a real problem. That’s true despite large increases in spending and staffing for border control, especially over the past decade. But the misleading or downright fictional stories promoted by extremists like Adams do nothing to help solve the problem. Those stories are meant just to frighten people.