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Sherriff Arpaio to unleash 800 deputies on undocumented immigrants

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  • Steven Robinson
    Arizona Sheriff Arpaio to Unleash 800 Deputies on Undocumented Immigrants By Valeria Fernandez New America Media February 15, 2010 PHOENIX -- Arizona Sheriff
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 15, 2010
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      Arizona Sheriff Arpaio to Unleash 800 Deputies on Undocumented Immigrants

      By Valeria Fernandez
      New America Media
      February 15, 2010

      PHOENIX -- Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced last week that he would
      train 881 of his own deputies to arrest undocumented migrants in the course
      of their normal duties.

      ArpaioThe announcement by the Maricopa County sheriff has come under fire
      from some legal scholars who argue he would be acting beyond the scope of
      the law and immigrant advocates who say this would further weaken the
      immigrant community's tenuous relationship with law enforcement officials.

      Arpaio's controversial immigration sweeps of Latino neighborhoods led to
      claims of racial profiling. In October, the federal Department of Homeland
      Security (DHS) revoked an agreement, known as 287(g), that allowed 160 of
      his officers to act as immigration agents.

      Now, Arpaio says he can do this under his own authority. He has enlisted the
      help of Kris W. Kobach, a University of Missouri law professor, who was an
      advisor to former attorney general John Ashcroft during the Bush
      administration. Kobach, who works as an attorney for the Immigration Reform
      Law Institute, was paid an undisclosed amount of money to oversee the
      two-hour training.

      Kobach argues that local police have "inherent authority" to stop, question
      and arrest people in order to enforce immigration law.

      He based his legal advice on a hotly contested 2002 Office of Legal Counsel
      (OLC) memo issued during Ashcroft's tenure.

      Several legal scholars contend the opinion is flawed.

      "Legally, it is highly suspect because there's a long tradition on the other
      side of the opinion, " said attorney Muzaffar Chishti, director of the
      Migration Policy Institute (MPI), referring to a series of OLC memos from
      1989 to 1996 that state the contrary. "Secondly, if there was an inherent
      authority to enforce immigration law, then there would be no need for
      Congress in 1996 to enact what's now known as 287(g). If they had it, why
      would you need it?"

      Chishti said that Congress has historically assumed that it has plenary
      power on immigration enforcement.

      "It doesn't mean that states can't play a role, but that role is highly
      limited," he said.

      Immigration SweepsImmigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the enforcement
      arm of Homeland Security, has distanced itself from Arpaio's new plans in a
      recent statement, which stated in part: "Sheriff Arpaio's efforts to conduct
      immigration enforcement actions do not derive from any ICE-delegated federal
      authority. ICE has no engagement in MCSO's [Maricopa County Sheriff's
      Office] operations outside of our standard procedures of responding to a
      local law enforcement agency's request for assistance."

      Arpaio's critics say his latest announcement is in keeping with the
      aggressive tactics employed by his deputies. "There's nothing new in this,"
      said Jorge Mendez, a local community activist. "Those who were trained under
      287(g) and those who weren't were questioning people anyway."

      "You're opening Pandora's box," said Omar Jadwat, a staff attorney at the
      American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Immigrants' Rights Project. He said
      Arpaio's action is sending a message to police officers on the streets that
      they have broad power to detain and arrest solely on suspicion that people
      are illegally in the country.

      "When you have local cops getting some short video training and making
      decisions about someone's immigration status, it is hugely dangerous because
      it is a complex and difficult area of the law," he said.

      Legal advisor Kobach is known for litigation involving immigrants. Kobach
      filed suit in Kansas, California and Nebraska challenging those state's
      policies of offering in-state tuition rates to undocumented students. He
      also represented Hazelton, Penn., when its harsh anti-immigrant policies
      were challenged in court. Kobach, a law professor at the University of
      Missouri-Kansas City, is now running for secretary of state in Kansas.

      Kobach has also worked with the Federation for American Immigration Reform
      (FAIR). FAIR was identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate
      group financially supported by the Pioneer Fund, a group with an alleged
      white supremacist agenda.

      "We find it absolutely outrageous that Sheriff Arpaio has chosen an
      individual with an obvious bias, who works on behalf of an anti-immigrant
      group to conduct training on immigration law and ethnic profiling," said
      Bill Straus, Arizona Anti-Defamation League regional director.

      "Those claims are absolutely false," said Kobach, in his defense. "The
      Southern Poverty Law Center engages in slander against people that oppose
      illegal immigration. They fail to mention that many of the people I defend
      in court are Hispanic. They happen to be Hispanics that believe the laws
      need to be enforced."

      This is not the only controversy Arpaio is embroiled in. A federal grand
      jury is investigating allegations of abuse of power by his office unrelated
      to his immigration enforcement. His agency is also the subject of a federal
      Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation of civil rights violations. His
      office could also face judicial sanctions for destruction of evidence in
      connection with an ACLU lawsuit that alleges his deputies engaged in racial
      profiling during his immigration sweeps.

      "This is going to magnify what he has been doing during the sweeps," said
      Shana Higa, a criminal defense attorney who has been monitoring Arpaio's
      immigration sweeps in Latino neighborhoods for the last two years. Higa
      believes this has made some Latinos afraid report crimes to the police,
      making them more vulnerable to criminals.

      Despite criticism about his tactics and associations, Arpaio continues to
      defend his policies saying that since 2007 his deputies have detained 30,000
      undocumented immigrants, often for something as simple as a traffic stop,
      and turned them over to immigration.

      In fact, the great majority of those arrests could be attributed to other
      law-enforcement agencies in Maricopa County, including the Phoenix and
      Scottsdale police departments.

      But Arpaio is trying to go further, according to legal experts.

      "The difference is that it looks like they claim they have the right on
      their own to hold someone up without the ICE detainer," said Chishti. "What
      will be challenged is that they can't just hold people on the basis of an
      immigration suspicion."

      If Arpaio's deputies could do that, the Arizona state legislature wouldn't
      be trying to pass a local law that allows police to arrest undocumented
      immigrants, said Alessandra Soller Meetze , director of the Arizona ACLU. SB
      1070 would criminalize undocumented immigrants for trespassing in the
      territory of the state.

      "If it passes, Arizona would be the first state in the country to make this
      specific state crime of immigration trespassing," said Meetze. "We still
      think the Constitution prohibits Arizona from passing that law."

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