Anyone who has paid attention to the immigration issues or to Arizona immigration law has heard of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He is the face of immigration enforcement in Arizona. He has appeared on news programs, and is well known for issuing pink underwear and jump suits to inmates in Maricopa county jails. The Department of Justice announced today, after a long investigation, that notorious Sherriff of Maricopa County Arizona, has been discriminating against Latinos in its enforcement of immigration laws. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has suspended the sheriff and his county from further participation in the 287g program.
The report lays out findings showing that Latino drivers were up to nine times more likely to be stopped than non-Latino drivers on Maricopa County roads. One fifth of the traffic incident reports over a three year period showed that almost all of the stops involved Latinos, and were in violation of the rights of those stopped and arrested. Deputies stopped Latinos on the basis of their appearance alone, and many raids were initiated based on reports that “brown-skinned” individuals were congregating at places such as “Home Depot” even though no criminal activity was alleged. Latinos who, in many instances were legal residents were handcuffed with plastic ties and made to sit on the sidewalk while the sheriff and his deputies conducted their raids. In many cases the sheriff entered homes detained legal residents and searched their homes without a warrant.
DHS issued the following statement outlining its concerns with Sheriff Joe:
‘The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is troubled by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) findings of discriminatory policing practices within the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). Discrimination undermines law enforcement and erodes the public trust. DHS will not be a party to such practices. Accordingly, and effective immediately, DHS is terminating MCSO’s 287(g) jail model agreement and is restricting the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office access to the Secure Communities program. DHS will utilize federal resources for the purpose of identifying and detaining those individuals who meet U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) immigration enforcement priorities. The Department will continue to enforce federal immigration laws in Maricopa County in smart, effective ways that focus our resources on criminal aliens, recent border crossers, repeat and egregious immigration law violators and employers who knowingly hire illegal labor.”
Immigration and Custom Services (ICE) took immediate action to end its relationship with the sheriff. ICE is removing all immigration detainees from Maricopa county jails and placing them in federal facilities;
ICE will no longer respond to the sheriff’s traffic stops, will immediately deny his county access to immigration information from ICE files and cut off his access to ICE technology. The Sherriff speaking to the Associated Press characterized today’s event as a politically motivated attack by the Obama administration which wants to make him a whipping boy for its national immigration problem.