Adam Kwasman, a Republican state representative and congressional candidate in Arizona, apparently thought it'd be a good idea to lead a protest near Tucson yesterday against a bus full of children. The kids, the GOP candidate assumed, were undocumented minors on their way to a housing facility, and as the bus approached, Kwasman tweeted, "Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law."
He even boasted to a local reporter that he was "able to see some of the children" and "the fear on their faces."
Why anyone, least of all a congressional candidate, would brag about protesting against scared children is a bit of a mystery, but the story took an unfortunate turn soon after.
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.
Initially, Kwasman's fellow protestors assumed it was a trick. Sure, the folks on the bus claim to be headed to a YMCA camp, but maybe this is an elaborate ruse intended to help undocumented children. But in this case, there was no trick -- these really were YMCA kids the right-wing activists were protesting.
Kwasman soon after deleted his tweet -- though it was too late -- and later admitted he had no idea what he was talking about. When a local reporter asked, "Do you know that was a bus with YMCA kids?" Kwasman replied, "They were sad, too. OK I apologize. I didn't know."
As it happens, Kwasman wasn't the only Arizona Republican leading protests.
Sheriff Paul Babeu is credited with stirring up the anti-immigrant protesters through social media postings and a press release and by leaking information about the migrants' arrival to a local activist. [...] Immigrant rights activists questioned Babeu about agitating protesters when he should be bringing order as the county's top lawman.
If Babeu's name sounds familiar, the Arizona Republican was briefly a congressional candidate in 2012, before he was accused of being romantically involved with a campaign volunteer and reportedly trying to intimidate his boyfriend about keeping their relationship secret.
The boyfriend, at least at the time, was an undocumented immigrant.