All illegal immigrants processed by ICE have a right to see an immigration judge, but Mexicans have the option for "voluntary return," which is basically a quick-and-dirty deportation. Gurule acknowledges that some of the thousands of immigrants deported soon return to the country, but he says his office has begun tracking those people and submitting them for formal deportation hearings. He declined to say how many runs across the border such immigrants will be allowed before ICE takes serious action.

Once a judge orders formal deportation, returning to the country does result in more prison time for some criminal aliens. An ICE program called "Operation Repeat Offender," conducted with the help of the U.S. Attorney's office, has resulted in some hefty sentences.

For instance, in August, 51-year-old Mexican national Victor Manuel Perez-Monroy was sentenced to five years in federal prison for returning after a deportation order. He had been busted for burglary and imprisoned numerous times in Arizona since 1983. Last month, another career burglar, caught in the country after being officially deported, was sentenced to 87 months in a federal prison.

Yet the career criminals caught and prosecuted for serious offenses are the exception. Voluntary deportations of average worker-bee immigrants are the rule.

The Phoenix ICE/DRO office removed a record 50,000-plus immigrants from the state in the fiscal year that ended September 30. The majority were low-level offenders found in drop houses and smugglers' vehicles, referred by local police or others apprehended by ICE who have no record of serious crime. Even of the 16,000 people removed (or scheduled to be removed) by ICE from county jails, most were relatively minor offenders — just as the Scottsdale arrest reports demonstrate.


On September 18, 2007, Phoenix police Officer Nick Erfle stopped and questioned two women and a man jaywalking near 24th Street and Thomas Road. After discovering the man had a warrant out of Tucson for shoplifting, Erfle tried to make an arrest. But the man, later identified as Erik Jovani Martinez, 22, put up a fight before pulling out a handgun and shooting the officer numerous times, killing him.

Erfle's death hit the already-wavy pond of Arizona's immigration debate like a tsunami. Foes of illegal immigration used the tragedy to renew a call for targeted enforcement against the undocumented.

Such action had long been resisted by overburdened police departments for a number of reasons: nabbing average illegal workers was seen as costly, inefficient, and detrimental to society because witnesses to and victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants might cooperate less with police.

Yet there was clearly some slack in the system that could be tightened. Erfle's killer had been arrested by Scottsdale police for a misdemeanor 16 months before the shooting, but had been released even though he had been deported previously. By the end of last year, Scottsdale changed its policy to make sure that would not happen again.

Phoenix police, records show, began rethinking department policy on immigration just one day after Erfle was shot, scheduling a meeting of division heads to discuss the problem.

The state's largest city already had begun to work more closely with ICE, which was developing a better reputation for helping local police agencies under its new boss, former Texas state trooper Alonzo Pena, Matt Allen's predecessor. Early in 2007, 10 ICE agents were invited to work in the violent crime bureau to help train police in immigration work.

But the city still had its "Order 1.4," which banned officers from contacting ICE in most misdemeanor cases. The order was also apparently illegal: In direct conflict with a federal whistleblower law, it explicitly forbade officers from contacting ICE even when the officers suspected a federal crime was occurring.

On October 25, 2007, Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris convened a series of meetings about the policy with police supervisors. An "informal" survey of 50 community leaders and activists was conducted to find out how people might react to a change. Police did not release the names of those contacted, but the results of the survey showed that 38 of the 50 felt the city should keep its old policy toward illegals.

"The policy change would have a 'chilling effect' in the Hispanic community," stated one of the community members.

Another person interviewed feared, "The immigrant community might look at the police as an extension of ICE."

But the mold for change was already set. Mark Spencer, newly elected president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (the union that represents Phoenix cops), wanted police to have the discretion to call ICE even on civil traffic stops. Spencer took his views public, speaking on radio programs and to the news media, putting extra pressure on city leaders.

"It's very frustrating," Spencer told New Times last year. "This policy clearly detracts from the deterrence factor of illegal immigrants coming into the city."

Then, in late November, a national watchdog group called Judicial Watch threatened to sue the City of Phoenix if it did not change the policy. A week later, on December 3, Mayor Phil Gordon announced he would bring together four high-profile law enforcement experts — former state Attorney General Grant Woods, former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, and former U.S. Attorneys from Arizona Paul Charlton and Jose Rivera — to help craft a new policy.

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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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