Moral Low Ground

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John McCain Blames Arizona Wildfires on “Illegal” Immigrants

Arizona Senator John MCain has blamed the devastating wildfires that have burned hundreds of thousands of acres in Arizona on “illegal” immigrants. According to Salon.com, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee was asked about the fires at a news conference over the weekend and replied that “illegals” are to blame for at least some of the fires:

“First of all we are concerned particularly about areas down on the border where there is substantial evidence that some of these fires are caused by people who have crossed our border illegally. They have set fires because they want to signal others; they have set fires to keep warm; and they have set fires in order to divert law enforcement agents and agencies from them. So the answer to that part of the problem is: get a secure border.”

As for his “substantial evidence,” McCain cited a Forest Service official he met while touring damage caused by the Wallow fire.

A spokesman for firefighters battling that blaze, however, told ABC that it is most likely caused by humans, but that there is no evidence to support the assertion that undocumented immigrants started it.

Heidi Schewel, spokeswoman for Coronado National Forest, told Salon.com that “the causes of the fires have not been determined. They are currently under investigation. Until investigations are complete we will not speculate on the causes.”

The closest thing to “evidence” that undocumented immigrants may have started any fires that McCain has are comments made by Jim Upchurch, who is fighting fires in Coronado National Forest, to the Arizona Daily Star. “The great majority, if not all the fires, on the Coronado National Forest have been human-caused. Causes of fires include ricocheting bullets, campfires, welding equipment and possibly ignition by smugglers or illegal immigrants.”

“Possibly”, he said, and last, at that. Quite a far shot from the “substantial evidence” that McCain claimed.

But when pressed, McCain stuck by his assertion that undocumented immigrants are to blame. He appeared on Fox Business Network’s Imus in the Morning today:

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