Phoenix cops who want to call ICE during a traffic stop or an on-the-spot criminal investigation must first pass their request through a supervisor. If the traffic stop results in only a civil violation, an officer is told not to call ICE.

But because of the aforementioned law about whistleblowers who want to report a federal crime, Phoenix police cannot prevent an officer from contacting ICE another way.

Police consulted with attorneys who suggested supervisors should dictate how the information exchange with ICE could occur. They came up with the idea of a referral form that cops could send to ICE if a police supervisor decides that getting ICE involved would be inefficient.

Undocumented day laborers in Chandler.
Ray Stern
Undocumented day laborers in Chandler.
Lieutenant Ramon Figueroa of the Arizona Department of Safety.
Michael Ratcliff
Lieutenant Ramon Figueroa of the Arizona Department of Safety.

For instance, say an officer grows suspicious that a driver stopped for failure to signal is an illegal immigrant. Imagine the driver speaks only Spanish and has no driver's license but shows the officer some other form of ID. Since the immigrant has not committed the misdemeanor of driving with no ID at all, he cannot be arrested (though he might have to walk home) — the violations would be civil, not criminal. But if the officer demands ICE be contacted, he or she would be allowed to do so with the referral form.

Hopefully, "the officers are going to understand the eventual disposition of these referral forms," says Phoenix police Commander Glen Gardner, who wrote the new Phoenix policy on immigrants. "ICE is going to get these, look at them, and [say], 'Great.'"

Gardner is being cynical. Despite its beefed-up forces, ICE likely will not spend much time investigating forms that detail potential illegal immigrants who commit civil traffic violations.

Though police would not discipline an officer who is filling out dozens of ICE referral forms each week, supervisors would see such effort as a performance issue, Gardner says.

"We respond to over 750,000 radio calls a year," Gardner says. "We'd say, 'Your focus is clearly in the wrong area.'"

Gardner says he has a "vested interest" and good understanding of the immigration-enforcement issue. He was born in the United States but raised in Mexico. His wife is of Mexican descent, as are the people with whom he socializes.

Gardner worries that the immigration issue will result in one of his officers going to prison because of a civil rights abuse.

Mostly, though, he simply does not believe that busting more low-level offenders will make a difference.

Though ICE has become more responsive to police, it seems to Gardner that the federal government has dropped the ball when it comes to immigration. He believes there is no good reason to initiate a deportation for low-level illegal immigrants, because it is still so easy for them to come back.

He scoffs at the supposed deterrent factor — the idea that enforcement will get so tough that immigrants will go elsewhere. He notes that people march through the blazing desert and subject themselves to kidnapping, extortion, assault, or rape just to get to this country.

The chance of deterring illegal immigrants "because we start deporting 40 people a day . . . To me, it's laughable."

Still, Gardner says, when it comes to criminals who also happen to be illegal immigrants, Phoenix PD is "probably the toughest there is."

In a May speech, Phoenix Police Chief Harris noted that the department had delivered more than 9,600 illegal immigrants to ICE since January 2007. Most were found in drop houses and among people booked for various crimes. Detective work resulted in more than 250 arrests for violent crimes and drug trafficking, he said.

DPS, ICE, and Phoenix PD began coordinating their efforts more closely last year through the Illegal Immigration Prevention and Apprehension Co-op Team, a.k.a. IIMPACT.

The 15-member team operates out of offices on Encanto Boulevard, just west of DPS' headquarters, with a stated mission to "deter, disrupt, and dismantle criminal organizations profiting from illegal immigration."

Since January, the team has opened 33 investigations and identified at least three criminal syndicates. It has brought human smuggling, kidnapping, weapons, assault and other charges against 125 people so far, seized $126,512 in cash, confiscated a few dozen weapons and deported about 375 illegal immigrants who were being smuggled into the country.

The team also takes the lead in investigating Phoenix drop house calls that involve violence, kidnapping, or extortion.

"Just in one week, we ended up hitting four houses that were connected," says DPS Lieutenant Bob Smart, who heads IIMPACT.

There seems to be little doubt that the team has done some good, but there is no evidence it is driving illegals out of the state.

The IIMPACT tactic seems similar to how authorities have failed at fighting the war on drugs for decades.

Without reducing demand, going after large organizations makes for impressive arrests and statistics but does not stem the underlying problem. Certainly, IIMPACT's goal to "dismantle" smuggling organizations is pie-in-the-sky, since the team cannot operate in Mexico, where many of the organizations are based.

Joe Arpaio's anti-human-smuggling outfit, the Triple I [Illegal Immigration Interdiction] unit, has also disrupted smuggling operations. In several traffic stops earlier this year, smell was a factor in stopping smugglers.

During a stop on U.S. 93 near Wickenburg in February, a deputy doubted the driver of a GMC Suburban crammed with people who said he and his relatives were just driving to Las Vegas for a vacation.

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My Voice Nation Help

"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 !!


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.


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.


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.


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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