If you're a Republican running for Congress in Arizona, you've really got to go that extra mile to prove your cred, or at least a couple hundred feet tailing a school bus filled with migrant children as you lament the invasion of America. Just be sure they're not really summer campers from the local Y.
Between conservative publications pretending soccer jerseys are Muslim migrants' prayer rugs and GOP congressmen with medical degrees foisting discredited theories about immigrants blighting the U.S. with infectious diseases, it's been a good month for the xenophobic conspiracy-industrial complex. But Arizona Rep. Adam Kwasman soared alone, boundlessly, up into the clouds of anti-immigrant eschatological fantasies Tuesday, physically confronting a yellow bus that he believed carried a complement of unaccompanied child border-crossers.
Kwasman had just raced up to Phoenix Tuesday morning from the Oracle protest over the expected arrival of dozens of migrant children at a shelter.
He had tweeted from the scene, "Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law." He included a photo of the back of a yellow school bus.
Kwasman later told me he saw the migrant children. "I was actually able to see some of the children in the buses. The fear on their faces.... This is not compassion," he said.
But there was a problem with Kwasman's story: There was no fear on their faces. Those weren't the migrant children in the school bus. Those were children from the Marana school district. They were heading to the YMCA's Triangle Y Camp, not far from the Rite of Passage shelter for the migrants, at the base of Mt. Lemmon.
12 News reporter Will Pitts, who was at the protest scene, says he saw the children laughing and taking pictures of the media.
Kwasman, not realizing his mistake, went ahead and did an interview with Resnick in which the state rep used the busload of sad children as evidence that liberal U.S. immigration policy was choking Lady Liberty to death. Resnick let him down gently:
Resnick: "Which children on the buses were those?"
Kwasman: "I saw a school bus with plenty of children on it. So, so, I'm assuming that was the bus that was moving through."
Resnick: "You know, that was a bus with YMCA kids."
Kwasman: "They were sad, too... Okay, I apologize. I was, I was leaving as I saw them..."
Kwasman spent the afternoon deleting his fervent tweets about the migrant children that weren't. He is a candidate in the three-way GOP primary to challenge Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick. He is endorsed by notorious Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Should the election effort fail, Kwasman can always pitch a Tom Green biopic as a star vehicle for himself.