John McCain and “intentional” car crashes

by Walter Olson on April 21, 2010

Arizona Sen. John McCain is under fire for asserting on the Bill O’Reilly show that “the drivers of cars with illegals in it … are intentionally causing accidents on the freeway.” It would be natural to assume he was referring to the well-established “swoop-and-squat” racket described repeatedly in these columns — here, for instance. You might think illegal aliens would avoid these scams for fear of deportation, but you would be wrong: they are well represented among the participants.

I hold no brief for McCain, and I doubt very much that the workings of this particular criminal subculture should figure among the top twenty policy considerations in deciding how best to handle illegal immigration. And if a Senate spokeswoman is to be credited, McCain may actually had in mind the phenomenon of high-speed police chases — though it is far from clear why those crashes would ordinarily count as intentional. But blogger incredulity about the idea that car crashes can ever be intentional seems misplaced.

{ 7 comments }

1 Justinian Lane 04.21.10 at 1:44 pm

Dear Bloggers,

I am very pro-plaintiff. I disagree with 70% of the stuff posted here. I strongly dislike John McCain. I also can assure you that what McCain said is 100% correct.

There are some misguided illegal aliens who intentionally cause auto accidents. Many illegal aliens also cause unintentional auto accidents, too. Whether or not this justifies McCain’s preferred immigration policies is an open question. But there’s no need to waste time debating whether or not “swoop & squats” and other similar schemes are perpetrated by some illegal aliens. They do.

2 Eric 04.21.10 at 2:13 pm

@Justinian Lane: Can you provide references?

3 Jay Markowitz 04.21.10 at 3:51 pm

Eric –

Check out this link

4 GJELblogger 04.21.10 at 4:25 pm

It’s true that some illegial immigrants have intentionally caused “swoop and squats” style accidents in the past. But this is a pretty outdated technique and it’s a pretty harmful generalization to base an immigration policy stance on. Mother Jones reported on swoop and squats all the way back in 1993, when the practice was used more often. From my understanding, it’s not used as much anymore. It’s a reckless generalization to paint all illegal immigrants this way, even if McCain is referring to a real phenomenon.

5 SeanB 04.21.10 at 4:53 pm

The coyotes (illegal alien traffickers) being pursued by police will intentionally crash their vehicles in such a way to cause the police have to attend to the wounded traffickees while the Coyotes try to escape on foot.

6 Dirk D 04.21.10 at 9:49 pm

“It’s a reckless generalization to paint all illegal immigrants this way, even if McCain is referring to a real phenomenon.”

What’s reckless is your disregard for formal logic.

7 NYEsq 04.22.10 at 8:22 am

“It’s a reckless generalization to paint all illegal immigrants this way…”

Sorry. I see no need to be so solicitous of the feelings of illegal aliens.

I cannot help but feel that the real outrage here is over the fact that the man known as Juan McAmnesty accidentally told the truth for once. Even if illegals didn’t intentionally cause car accidents (they do), they certainly bankrupt school systems, take down hospitals, commit violent crimes, drive drunk at alarming rates and file armloads of frivolous law suits.

It strikes me as pretty unlikely that McAmnesty–err, McCain–spontaneously has joined the ranks of immigration rationalists, but it is mildly refreshing to hear him say anything that doesn’t also include an offer of full amnesty to anyone who can flop over the border.

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