BREWER WARNS OF IMMIGRANTS AND ‘BEHEADINGS’…. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) continues to try to defend her anti-immigrant policies, and isn’t above using shameless demagoguery to scare people into agreeing with her.

In an interview on Fox News last week, for example, she claimed: “We cannot afford all this illegal immigration and everything that comes with it, everything from the crime and to the drugs and the kidnappings and the extortion and the beheadings …”

There’s no better way, it seems, to make the case for strict anti-immigration laws than to claim that undocumented immigrants are pouring into the country to decapitate innocent Americans. But just because she says it on television doesn’t make it true.

Brewer didn’t just slip up; she seems to seriously believe immigrants who’ve entered the U.S. illegally are engaged in “beheadings.” Offered a chance to walk it back on a local public affairs show this week, Brewer insisted that there have been “bodies in the desert … that have been beheaded.” When told that media research could find no such incidents, the governor didn’t care.

Eventually, a spokesperson for Brewer said that the Arizona governor may not have been referring to incidents in Arizona, but could have meant illegal immigrants beheading people in other states.

First, Brewer was clearly talking about Arizona. Second, there aren’t reports of beheading in other border states, either. Third, this is probably the most unpersuasive spin I’ve heard since the RNC spokesperson tried to explain Michael Steele rejecting the RNC’s line on Afghanistan.

There’s no great mystery here. For Republicans like Jan Brewer, the goal is to literally terrify the American public. In this case, that means connecting illegal immigration to images Americans have seen of terrorists beheading the innocent, and hoping people are confused enough to miss the distinction between a Mexican worker, hoping to provide for his/her family, and members of al Qaeda.

But trying to connect crime to immigration problems is a losing proposition.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.