Even in Mesa, where a Cuban transplant sensitive to the plight of immigrants reigns as police chief, a policy change scheduled to take effect in December means hundreds of people detained by police for minor crimes will end up deported.

The biggest problem for illegal immigrants is the county jails. Before ICE cross-trained 60 jail guards in spring 2007, about 90 percent of illegals booked into the Maricopa County jail system were released into the community after they posted bond or served their sentence. Now, virtually all of them are deported.

A press release put out by Arpaio in late August touted that 16,000 inmates were identified as illegal immigrants in the previous 18 months. He announced that most were deported and that others would be deported once their jail or prison sentences were served.

It is a large number, but one thing the press release does not mention is that local police departments and the state DPS — not Arpaio's MCSO — arrested about 86 percent of the 16,000.

For aliens arrested for crimes, as well as for average undocumented workers, who together make up an estimated 9 or 10 percent of the Valley's population, the game has changed when it comes to dealing with local law enforcement.

Lieutenant Ramon Figueroa, who heads the DPS' Metro East division, says there is more cooperation between immigration authorities and local cops than he has ever seen in 27 years on the force.

The agency's Highway Patrol Division figures help tell the story.

Figueroa's district, a massive swath of land that takes in the entire East Valley and runs north to Loop 101 and Scottsdale Road, used to catch and release nearly as many undocumented immigrants as it turned over to ICE. Just this year, that figure became lopsided: 376 illegal immigrants were released while 1,057 were handed over to ICE.

The DPS' northern Arizona district figures are even more striking. In 2006, its troopers caught and released 1,202 illegals and turned over 11 to ICE. So far this year, the DPS district has handed ICE 681 immigrants and released only 107.

"It's a different environment," admits Sergeant Mark Clark, Scottsdale's police spokesman. "We're not in the business of immigration enforcement. But what we are doing is making sure ICE has the opportunity to enforce immigration."

To illegal immigrants, Clark's distinction is a joke. Like other agencies, the Scottsdale Police Department seems to be very much in the business of forcing illegals out of the country.


Near the Heard Museum, off Central Avenue in Phoenix, is the building that houses the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, where legal immigrants are welcomed into the United States.

On the second floor of the building is the headquarters of ICE's Detention and Removal Operations, where illegal immigrants are processed to be kicked out of the country. No signs for Detention and Removal can be seen on the front of the building, but the fenced-in "sally port" and white buses parked out back hint of the jail-like nature of the facility.

DRO is a less-catchy and less-publicized acronym than ICE, and the head of ICE's local Office of Investigations, Matt Allen, usually gets the credit or blame for ICE-related matters in the media. DRO boss Katrina Kane does not report to Allen. She reports to ICE supervisors in Washington, D.C.

For the most part, DRO is ICE to local law-enforcement officers. When police call ICE to inquire about an immigrant's status, or when they need illegal immigrants picked up, they talk to DRO.

In 2006, when New Times published a cover story that described ICE's myriad problems, members of the agency's Office of Investigations complained bitterly about their role as part-time bus drivers whose job it was to transport illegal immigrants from local jails or crime scenes to federal detention facilities. ICE as a whole was understaffed, and agents scrambled just to keep up with the loads of immigrants found in Arizona drop houses and elsewhere.

In fall 2006, however, the federal government boosted the budget of ICE/DRO, increasing the number of agents by at least 30 percent, says Jon Gurule, the agency's deputy field office director. The Phoenix DRO field office is now third-largest in the nation, where before it had barely cracked the top 10.

Previously, police officers calling ICE were often told the agency would not get involved in cases involving fewer than about 20 illegal immigrants. Even then, agents were difficult to find after normal business hours. If police called about a drop house with 30 immigrants at midnight, an ICE agent would probably get a phone call at home, drive to an ICE office, and pick up a van or bus, then drive to the scene.

Now it is simpler, says Gurule: "If they call us, we respond."

ICE agents now staff the office 24/7, he says. Since September 2006, ICE has responded to more than 2,800 calls from local law enforcers for assistance. The number of illegal immigrants to be picked up no longer matters, though police will sometimes be asked to drive immigrants to the facility when it is convenient, rather than have ICE do all the work.

Gurule says a new communications system expected to be in place by the end of the year will electronically convey the fingerprints of nearly all the illegal immigrants booked into all of Arizona's county jails — even in counties that do not have agreements with the feds. Many of these people will be deported, though the cost of transportation from remote areas will have to be balanced against the severity of the immigrants' crimes.

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10 comments
dude
dude

"concerned citizen"... no one is buying your nonsense. We've already seen what happened to California as a result of mass illegal invasion, and we're not going to let the same thing happen to Arizona. Enough is enough.

If people have a problem with US employers or labor law, let them spend their time and lawsuit money on those issues, but AZ & US taxpayers and citizens are not going to tolerate being defrauded any longer. To insinuate that the half a million illegals in AZ all had a hand in constructing the infrastructure of the State of AZ is unfounded.

Most of these illegals are new arrivals, often just passing through before heading for the interior of the USA, so most them had no hand in building anything, and are just squatters, benefit and SS# thieves, and interlopers. Their presence here is illegal, and we expect our laws to be enforced.

If you and some of your rich friends made money off the labor of illegals, that is on your conscience, and you are free to relinquish your ill gotten gains into the coffers of La Raza, MeCha, or any of the other illegal alien enabling groups.

Just keep your hands off our tax money, our benefits, our laws, and our sovereignty. If you want to live in Mexico, or Mexifornia, then move there... stop trying to bring those places here, because we don't want it. The citizens have spoken in the legislature and at the ballot box, so please cease from pestering us with your sophistry.

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

Arizona was built off the backs of immigrants legal and illegal. The corporations and state enjoyed prosperity because of the cheap labor. NAPTA has made the situation worse. Decades later at this late date, the elected officials have created fear, bigotry and division in what was once a fine community. By inflaming the public knee-jerks laws have been put in place that threatens all of our rights, not just those this group is targeting. This is citizen and Republican is not fooled by the tactics of Arpaio, his former underling Pearce, and his legal counsel County Attorney Andrew Thomas who tied up the courts and those he doesn't care for in ongoing, out of control litigation which cannot be sustained in a state and country that are in crisis.

The arrogance and abuse of power by Arpaio, Thomas, Pearce and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors must be brought to immediate halt if we are to survive as "free" people. Illegal immigration is another election "label" to mask the very serious issues facing people in Maricopa County and the State of Arizona, and the corruption which this state is well known for.

16 years is too long for any official to be in control. It's time for a new Sheriff, oversight and transparency in that office. We do not need people with God complexes running any office with our tax dollars. They serve us, not the other way around. Anyone who speaks out is subject to retaliation, as we can see incident after incident.

This Republican will vote for Dan Saban and hope he can restore the damage done to the Sheriff's office.

Deport Em
Deport Em

I applaud Arizona, Sheriff Joe and all the others who are finally taking a step in the right direction, which is finding, detaining and deporting illegals. Stopping them for minor traffic violations often turns up more that just that violation. Happens on COPS all the time. The ACLU should change their name to MCLU cause they are more interested in helping law breaking Mexicans than supporting American rule of law. I wish every state would take the hard line that Arizona has. The numbers show they ARE making a difference. I look forward to seeing Sheriff Joe re-elected and shoving that in the face of all the illegal lovers who want him voted out. If the illegals weren't breaking laws then they would not have to fear the police. They took the risk to break into our country, so they must all take fall if caught. Good job AZ and ICE. Keep up the good fight !!

Bobby
Bobby

The ACLU is a fraud and works day and night to usurp the rights of American citizens. They would have an endless amount of work just monitoring what the present administartion has done suspending Posse Commitatus, etc. but no, fighting for the rights of illegal alien foreign nationals is more important to them.

As for people like Mayor Gordon, Napolitano, Giffords and other non-representatives of the people, Arizonans get what they deserve. Honest people like Russel Pierce and so many others, are often ignored in favor of un-American idiots like the above. Even folks like Sheriff Arpaio are having to struggle to do the job he was elected to do, keeping the citizenry safe. One things for sure. We will sleep in the bed we made. Right? Liberals who are victims of the crimes of unregulated foreign nationals, need not come crying to more sensible and rational Americans.

Bobby
Bobby

All illegal alien Mexicans must be deported. They have arrogantly abused this nation and its citizen taxpayers enough now. No more street marches, document fraud, tax fraud, welfare fraud, lying, stealing and cheating. Americans have enough to do in trying to clear up the lying stealing and cheating on Wall Street and in the Congress and Senate.

Puzzled
Puzzled

Why does Stern and the New Times have a problem with our laws being enforced?

Why do they continue to advocate for lawbreakers, and propagandize against those enforcing our laws?

It's just sickening. We've already seen California destroyed by unrestrained illegal immigration, and now Stern and the New Times want to see Arizona destroyed in the same way.

Why?

Of what possible benefit is it to US Citizens in Arizona to allow this state to be overrun and eventually bankrupted by millions of illegal Mexicans?

Do we have some sort of obligation to allow our state and country to be overrun by illegals?

It just doesn't make any sense.

Omar Tentmaker
Omar Tentmaker

Author Ray Stern cannot bring himself to acknowledge that the new general-public endorsed immigration enforcement approaches, while admittedly imperfect and to some degree ineffective, are better than the open borders policy long allowed by the federal government.

I.B. Wundrin
I.B. Wundrin

When a person is in this country illegally, you cannot call deportation "punishment"! I'd call it a free ride back to where the person is a legal resident. Pretty humane treatment in my book.

Equity Court Services of Arizo
Equity Court Services of Arizo

"In two cases detailed in the ACLU lawsuit, Hispanic drivers and passengers appear to have been singled out by overly aggressive deputies trying to find illegal immigrants."

Mr. Stern, why didn't you state your real opinion that the lawsuit is frivolous and malicious? You wrote about it and gave us some solid information about the witnesses. We thank you.

Check out the filed papers in that case and you'll see a "Motion to Intervene" and a "Demand" that's detailed and credible. Why didn't you mention that? Noone on this end is kidding about it coming up for a hearing.

In terms of solutions, when was the last time you assisted an illegal with a USCIS remedy? No mention of that, just another crybaby comment about the DRO being in the same building. The filing of papers could PREVENT some people from going to the DRO Unit.

Advocacy journalism can be great, but it's undermined by such bias, inaccuracy, and deliberate omissions.

John "Johnny On The Spot" O'Sullivanfor "The Global Equity"

 
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