Blockbuster Arizona immigration law exposé sure to fuel anti-NPR campaign

NPR’s blockbuster investigative report exposing the private prison industry’s role in writing and bankrolling the “lock ’em up” Arizona immigration law that passed earlier this year is sure to fuel cries rising against NPR on the right led nationally by FOX News and here in Colorado by GOP Congressman Doug Lamborn.

This summer Lamborn introduced legislation to strip public journalism, including NPR and PBS, of taxpayer support, and now, in the wake of the FOX move against NPR, Lamborn is forthright about doing so for ideological reasons.

“PBS is a friend and protector of liberal issues and political correctness at the expense of free speech,” he wrote to supporters last week.

Now that NPR has attacked a sacred cow of the Colorado right in uncovering the messy corrupt details behind Arizona’s controversial SB 1070, Lamborn is sure to get increased support on the ground. The story is as chilling as it is unsurprising. The lead:

Last year, two men showed up in Benson, Ariz., a small desert town 60 miles from the Mexico border, offering a deal.

Glenn Nichols, the Benson city manager, remembers the pitch.

“The gentleman that’s the main thrust of this thing has a huge turquoise ring on his finger,” Nichols said. “He’s a great big huge guy and I equated him to a car salesman.”

What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants.

“They talk [about] how positive this was going to be for the community,” Nichols said, “the amount of money that we would realize from each prisoner on a daily rate.”

But Nichols wasn’t buying. He asked them how would they possibly keep a prison full for years — decades even — with illegal immigrants?

“They talked like they didn’t have any doubt they could fill it,” Nichols said.

That’s because prison companies like this one had a plan — a new business model to lock up illegal immigrants. And the plan became Arizona’s immigration law.

GOP state lawmakers here have made a show in the months since the Arizona law passed of supporting it and planning to introduce similar legislation here during the next legislative session. Seven Republican lawmakers made a highly publicized trek to Phoenix in August to “refine our understanding and fortify our resolve,” as state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, told the Denver Post. “What you gain from a meeting like this is a lot of the details and the particulars,” he said.

Lunberg was joined on the fact-finding fortifying mission by State Sen. Dave Schultheis, Senate candidate Kent Lambert, Rep. Randy Baumgardner and House candidates Janak Joshi, Ray Scott and Chris Holbert.

Either Lundberg and company didn’t get the details NPR got, which is a problem, or they did, which is also a problem.

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About the Author

John Tomasic

Writer, editor, teacher, web wrangler. He has worked for art, business, culture, politics publications, five universities and a UN war crimes commission. @johntomasic
jtomasic@coloradoindependent.com | 720-432-2128 |

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