UPDATE: Click here to see Babeu's response to the border mayors' letter.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's making a pretty nice career out of being the face of the immigration debate in Arizona, but several mayors of border cities are asking that he tone down some of the rhetoric. Turns out, scaring the shit out of people by telling them violence spilling over the border is imminent is bad for business.
Earlier this month, Babeu said he predicts an armed showdown in the desert between law enforcement agencies and drug cartels -- a claim contrary to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's assertion that the border is safer than ever.
See a Fox 10 interview with Babeu below.
A lot of people aren't buying into Babeu's hype -- including the mayors of Nogales, Douglas, and San Luis, who sent the sheriff a letter telling him to tone it down.
In the February 9, letter, first obtained by the Arizona Daily Star, mayors Arturo Garino of Nogales, Michael Gomez, of Douglas, and Juan Escamilla, of San Luis, the mayors warn that Babeu's comments are hurting business in their cities.
They ask Babeu to "not cultivate a culture of fear" in the Grand Canyon State that "may keep national media coming to Arizona" but, in reality, is hurting the economies of border cities.
See an excerpt of the letter below:
"As Mayors of border communities from Arizona, we would appreciate it if you would not cultivate a culture of fear in our state and to start being accurate about border security. While your misstatements about efforts to keep communities along the U.S.-Mexico border may keep national media coming to Arizona, at the same time your consistent inaccuracies hurt cities and towns like ours by causing those who live and travel to the border to fear for their safety when in our communities. This damages our economy - driving visitors away and leaving our businesses and residents to suffer. The facts show that violent crime is down or
remains flat in our border region as we are sure it is in your area as well. In 2002 it peaked at 742 per 100,000 residents but has since drastically dropped to 219 per 100,000 in 2009 (per the F.B.I. Uniform Crime Reports Program).
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.