Monday, June 20, 2011

McCain says immigrants caused fire, but lacks evidence

Republican Senator tries to make political issues where none yet exist

On Saturday, June 18, U.S. Sen. John McCain made a hefty claim about the role that "illegal" immigrants played in Arizona wildfires.

"There is substantial evidence that some of these fires are caused by people who have crossed our border illegally," McCain said at his press conference over the weekend. "The answer to that part of the problem is to get a secure border."

McCain's comments came in the wake of the Wallow wildfire in his home state, which has burned hundreds of thousands of acres thus far. Though not stating directly that the Wallow fire was the result of undocumented immigrants, McCain's statements heavily insinuated that they may have played a hand in it.

But McCain's assertions carry no weight to them. In fact, Tom Berglund, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman, says he "isn't aware" of any evidence that suggests undocumented immigrants played any role in the Wallow fire.

"There's no evidence that I'm aware, no evidence that's been public, indicating such a thing," Berglund said.

McCain's handlers later said that he had meant that SOME wildfires had been caused by immigrants in the past, and that he wasn't referring specifically to Wallow. But why bring it up if not to make that insinuation? McCain is clearly trying to make an issue out of a tragic event using evidence that is complete rubbish.

It's shameful that McCain feels the need to make his point about a border fence during this event. With so many people being affected by the wildfires in Arizona, it's ridiculous to turn the thing into a political talking point, especially when that talking point played no role that we know of in the tragedy at hand. McCain ought to retract his statement, or at the very least apologize for bringing it up during a moment when it was inappropriate to do so.

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