"The Hispanic descent of his passengers, the pungent body odor, and the lack of luggage for traveling also contributed to my suspicions," the deputy wrote. It turned out that the unrelated passengers were all from the same small town in Mexico and were, indeed, being smuggled.

Since Arpaio persuaded Julie Myers, the national ICE boss, to sign the 287(g) agreement with him, the sheriff has used his 100 ICE-trained deputies to hunt down illegals as though he were on a mission from God. Once ICE-certified, the deputies have even more authority than ICE agents, who lack the power to stop drivers for state traffic violations.

Deputies have combed the remote desert areas of the county and staked out highways frequented by smugglers. Arpaio and Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas have teamed up to arrest and charge immigrants for smuggling themselves into the country, something no other agencies in the country have ever done.

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.

To civil rights advocates, the most egregious actions have been the anti-immigrant sweeps in Hispanic neighborhoods. Demonstrations against Arpaio began in earnest after deputies started rounding up tamale vendors and drivers of vehicles with broken tail lights.

But on one occasion last year, deputies saved the life of an immigrant who was being held captive and beaten by smugglers demanding $2,100. After being approached in a Food City parking lot about the situation by a man who claimed to be the victim's brother, deputies did a money-for-hostage trade, rescued the victim, and arrested the two kidnappers.

Arpaio's tactics have netted smugglers, illegal immigrants wanted on warrants, and previously deported felons. And they have brought complaints of racial profiling. The Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has a pending lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office that details alleged abuses.

"Everyone knows" the sheriff is profiling, claims Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. "He's pulling people over for minor traffic violations and applying policy in a discriminatory manner."

Arpaio's chief of enforcement, Brian Sands, was quoted in a May 8 Arizona Republic article as saying that deputies found numerous illegal immigrants in Fountain Hills simply by scrutinizing older cars and work trucks for problems like cracked windshields.

Yet it is just this sort of targeted approach that Meetze predicts will result in "costly mistakes" for the county. 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.

Though a judge may yet find Arpaio's methods to be within the letter of the law, some of the deputies' actions seem questionable.

A July article in the East Valley Tribune described one apparently bogus traffic stop. Deputy Jesus Cosme, with reporter Ryan Gabrielson riding along, pulled over a van full of suspected illegals near Wickenburg for failing to use a turn signal. Gabrielson wrote in the article that the van had never changed lanes.

A report reviewed by New Times shows that deputies targeting day laborers in Fountain Hills last October found reasons to pull over vehicles only after they were identified as carrying potential illegal immigrants. Undercover detectives observed their prey hopping into vehicles to be driven to work sites and "once the pickup vehicle was located by MCSO marked patrol units, detectives would establish probable cause for a traffic stop," the report states.

Yet another case of possible fudging was smoothed over by Arpaio's partners at the County Attorney's Office. In April, a deputy pulled over a vehicle that appeared to be displaying a fictitious license plate and arrested a group of illegal immigrants. But it turned out the plate was good — the deputy had simply misread it.

Prosecutors told the Sheriff's Office that the probable cause for the stop was "still valid" and the people being smuggled should still be charged.

No wonder immigrants are scared.

West of the IIMPACT offices on Encanto, a new holding facility is under construction for illegal immigrants detained by the team. It will have four small, white cells, a long booking area, and video cameras to monitor all the action. When finished and opened in early 2009, it will be an extension of ICE's detention facility.

Men, women, and children who are caught at area drop houses or are being smuggled on nearby highways will be brought here and questioned. The smugglers facing criminal charges will be separated from the pollitos, who will be quickly turned over to ICE and deported. Officials said the facility is designed to process 100 to 200 people a month.

Despite IIMPACT's goals, it is clear the team is prepared to deal with plenty of illegal immigrants who are not violent criminals.

The 10 percent or so of illegal immigrants who live in the state "need to understand it's not only DPS, but other agencies taking an aggressive enforcement stance," says Smart, IIMPACT's leader.

It is likely that immigrants do understand that by now.

But they are still taking the risk.

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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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