Feds limit Arizona sheriff’s immigration crackdown


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has removed controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's authority to arrest suspected undocumented immigrants on the streets based solely on their immigration status.

Carolyn Trowbridge, a Tucson, Ariz., immigrant rights activist and a state board member of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the government's move was correct. The Maricopa County sheriff "has clearly violated people's human rights on a grand scale" in tracking down and sweeping up anybody with brown skin, she said in a phone interview.

"In most cases he is clearly out of his jurisdiction and clearly he is also out of his mind," said Trowbridge. "The guy is a maniac."

Trowbridge said Arpaio is known for causing confrontations with small town mayors and chiefs of police who speak out against his immigration roundups.

"Arpaio and his posse will arrest anybody who looks like an immigrant and his definition of ‘illegal' is anybody with dark skin," she said. "Racism plays a major role here."

Arpaio has arrested 33,000 immigrants in the past two years.

Trowbridge recalled how a father, a legal resident, and his U.S. citizen son were picked up by Arpaio's men on the street and taken to the father's workplace where an immigration raid was in progress, where they were arrested on the spot.

The controversial sheriff had sought a renewed agreement with federal officials to allow him to conduct both field arrests and immigration checks at his jails. However a high-level Homeland Security official recently presented Arpaio with a document allowing the county sheriff to conduct only jail checks of immigrant status, not street arrests over immigration.

In a ranting press conference Oct. 6 Arpaio said he plans to press on, using state laws, to round up immigrants. He said he would drive suspects picked up on the streets to the border if federal officers refused to take them into custody.

If Arpaio violates the Homeland Security decision, Trowbridge said, "I hope he comes up against the full force of the federal government and is held accountable for his actions."

Homeland Security officials said they are in the process of reviewing their agreement with the sheriff's department and the other 65 agencies that participate in a Bush administration program allowing local and state police to make immigration arrests.

Immigrant rights activists and lawmakers are urging the Homeland Security Department to terminate the program, known as 287(g) after the section of the 1996 law that authorized it, saying it has led to racial profiling and other abuses.

Last week, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus wrote to President Obama asking him to immediately end the program due to complaints of shocking abuse.

A recent Government Accountability Office report said the program was not supervised, often leading to the arrest of minor offenders instead of the criminals it was supposed to pursue.

Since the department announced it was reviewing the program, two agencies in Massachusetts have withdrawn from the program.

Orlando Arenas, 28, a volunteer with "Puente" (Bridge), an immigrant rights group in Phoenix, said, "The 287(g) program should be completely terminated. It shouldn't be reformed, it should be ended entirely. Don't amend it, end it."

"Here in Maricopa County," he said, "the immigrant and migrant community lives in fear and as a Mexican American what concerns me the most is the constant racial profiling."

"We need immigration reform that includes everybody including day laborers because people cannot continue living in the shadows," Arenas said.

He called Arpaio "evil" and said the sheriff exercises his power to intentionally hurt the Latino community there.

Arpaio has more officers, 160, with special immigration enforcement powers than any other local police agency in the country.

In March, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division announced it was investigating Arpaio's office on accusations of racial profiling, discrimination and unconstitutional searches and seizures.

"There needs to be a real change in how we view immigration rights in this country and I'm heartened to know that the Obama administration is looking at this process in a more humane way," said Trowbridge.

She said what's needed is real comprehensive immigration reform, and people should be allowed to come here and a build a life without being attacked by people like Arpaio.

"Immigrants come here to work because they have to," Trowbridge said.


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    Posted by JEFF, 07/31/2010 1:26am (5 years ago)

  • how do you get mad at someone for doing his job? i see nothing wrong with joe arresting illegal immigrans, they would not be illegal if they went through the systems checks, they would not be scared to work if they had a soc sec card? they would not be looked at as illegal if they did not harbor or assist illegals? the point is people!! if you are here in the states illegally, you are to be arrested!! that is the law!! it is not ment to pacify you, it is the law, no racism, no constitutional violation, no civil infractions! they are here illegaly period!! not buts no if's no shoulda coulda or wouldas! you feel me?

    Posted by HAROLD , 03/29/2010 3:04pm (6 years ago)

  • the only people angered of this is businesses that hires illegals, people that have lived here for years with out getting caught by the ins and having families, and the tree huggers that support gay marriages so... no big deal they can leave to!! if the federal gov we put their would do their job? then the wall would be finished, the boarders we be tightened, and the coast guard would have a purpose instead of redistributing the drugs they get from seizures back into circulation?
    if you don't want this problem, then stop living a lie people!!! the government sold out long time ago, you just were never told.

    Posted by HAROLD K. ROSE, 03/29/2010 2:56pm (6 years ago)

  • Now nail this bastard under the Eighth Amendment for Degradation and inhuman treatment, for Chain-gangs Pink clothing rotten food, living conditions. The way to do this is take as many degrading pictures, and videos you can of his operations, and then let the pictures speak for themselves before a grand Jury, and or before the court. Them let him be sued, by everyone he violated. This arrogant bastard, needs to be retired, and the state of Arizona needs to be sued to allow this Violation of our bill or rights. Remember pictures Don't lie! The ACLU should do their Damm Job!

    Posted by jdlaughead, 10/14/2009 4:14am (6 years ago)

  • Thanks to Pepe Lozano for this article. In response to "Nick", and in support of Carolyn Trowbridge:

    a. U.S. trade and foreign policies, like those of other wealthy nations, have had a devastating impact on the economies not only of Mexico, but of many other countries also. One inevitable result of this is massive labor migration to the wealthier countries--The United States, Canada, Western Europe etc. This migration comes illegally because there is no way for the vast majority of these economically displaced people to get legal immigrant visas. The U.S. government does not give legal permanent resident visas to grain farmers from central Mexico or rice farmers from Haiti who have been displaced by U.S. agribusiness "dumping" practices. It is unfair to persecute immigrants for a situation not of their making. We need to change our actions toward poorer countries, as well as our immigration laws.

    b. Nick, if someone murdered my family, it would be small consolation to me that the murderer was "legal" or a U.S. citizen. And all studies I have seen have shown undocumented immigrants to have a lower rate of violent crime than the general population. Our corporate-dominated press highlights the immigration status of a few, while ignoring the overall trends.

    Posted by Emile Schepers, 10/10/2009 8:57pm (6 years ago)

  • I have seen with my own eyes a raid on a funeral by MCSO as well as the arrests of children playing soccer. Sheriff Joke doesn't care about law and order. He cares about his personality cult and is always seeking new ways to boost his public image with his core of easily-frightened white constituents. The overt racism employed by this guy is readily apparent even to a dimwit and the assertion that anything goes if a law has been broken should be examined with some caution. Do you really want to be beaten unconscious the next time you are puled over for a "broken tail light". If white people were being rounded up like cattle by this a-hole, there would be a massive public outcry and the sheriff would be in his own jail.

    Posted by Michael Greenberg, 10/10/2009 11:05am (6 years ago)

  • "...often leading to the arrest of minor offenders" - who are also illegal aliens

    Arpaio is out of his mind but even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    Posted by AnotherCitizen, 10/08/2009 9:56pm (6 years ago)

  • It's called illegal for a reason. Illegal means you're breaking the law. Do you dispute that you're breaking the law by being an illegal immigrant? Fuck it, let's open the borders and let everyone come in, terrorists or whoever. This isn't disneyland and no one rides for free. In other countries you'd be shot on site or interrogated to see if you're a spy.

    Posted by citizen, 10/08/2009 6:51pm (6 years ago)

  • If Ms. Trowbridge is so sure the sheriff is a racist, has she ever looked at the number of hispanics that work in his department? I think you could confidently state if you study the matter that it is significant.

    I am not at all saying that the Sheriff is perfect. However, out of the thousands of arrests that have been made you mention only one where there appears to have been an error on the part of his department.

    Ms. Trowbridge, I don't think you have a clear idea of how difficult the illegals make life for legal residents and citizens. I can gaurantee you that any illegal alien working for a company who receives a check is doing so by using some type of false identification which usually includes someone elses social security number. They have used these numbers to obtain credit fraudulently and then when the IRS finds descrepancies in the amount filed on income taxes ask the unsuspecting citizen to prove that they did not make the extra income.

    You say they want to come here to work because they have to. Well, look at the number of crimes committed by illegal aliens. Do they need to commit the crimes. Do you think they should be allowed to remain in a community where they cannot obey the laws. How would you feel if an illegal killed a family member of your's as a result of a DUI. Look at the number of DUI's in Phoenix that are caused by illegal aliens. I guess they had to come here to drink.

    Posted by Nick, 10/08/2009 3:06am (6 years ago)

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