Arpaio and the 287(g) Hearings, Direct from D.C.


The weather was muggy. The cherry blossoms were in bloom. And Sheriff Joe Arpaio was on the agenda on Capitol Hill, in a joint session of two subcommittees of the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by California congresswoman and Democrat Zoe Lofgren.

Officially, the three-hour session was meant to probe the flaws of the 287(g) program, which allows local cops to enforce federal immigration law after being trained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But two star witnesses from Arizona made sure that Arpaio's exploitation of the 287(g) program for political purposes, his racial profiling, and his civil rights abuses took center stage: Mesa Police Chief George Gascón and Avondale resident and Julio Mora.

Mesa Police Chief George Gascón on Capitol Hill.
Stephen Lemons
Mesa Police Chief George Gascón on Capitol Hill.
Avondale resident Julio Mora on Capitol Hill
Stephen Lemons
Avondale resident Julio Mora on Capitol Hill

There were other witnesses, from both sides of the 287(g) argument, who addressed the committee. But Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building was packed that day with Joe foes, from Cactus Country and elsewhere.

Among the spectators were Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, Phoenix lawyer Antonio Bustamante, civil rights activist Salvador Reza, and Chris Newman, a lawyer with the L.A.-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network, which, along with ACORN, was instrumental in making the hearings happen.

I was there, as well. You can read the extended coverage on my Feathered Bastard blog. In general, the hearing was a score for House Dems, anti-Joe activists, and those opposed to the 287(g) program.

Though the Republicans are to be admired for their willingness to dive headfirst into the mud with a steak knife in each paw, the pro-287(g) witnesses were flops, reminding folks of the racially charged implications of 287(g), which gives law enforcement carte blanche to pursue those guilty of DWB, or driving while brown.

Amazingly, law prof Kris Kobach was picked to carry water for the pro-287(g) side. Kobach was an immigration adviser to Attorney General John Ashcroft during the Bush years, but it's his alleged ties to white supremacists that muddied his credibility even before he offered his first rationalization for the 287(g) program. In a letter to the Judiciary Committee's leadership, Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center alerted the committee to Kobach's work as "senior counsel" to the "legal arm of Federation for American Immigration Reform," an organization that has taken $1.2 million from a group dedicated to eugenics, according to the SPLC. The SPLC letter quoted FAIR founder John Tanton as making statements advocating racial purity, and noted that Kobach had taken campaign contributions from FAIR for a failed 2004 congressional campaign.

Lofgren allowed Kobach's testimony in spite of the letter, and the Republicans on the committee made statements aimed at disputing the SPLC's expertise on such matters. But Kobach's usefulness as a cheerleader for 287(g) was severely undercut.

Even the Republicans' possible ringer, Virginia Beach, Virginia resident and Ray Tranchant, backfired on them. Tranchant's 16-year-old daughter Tessa and her best friend were killed by drunk driver Alfredo Ramos. Ramos was in the country illegally. Ultimately, he received 40 years for his crime.

But Tranchant's own words hurt his plea for his dead daughter by conflating all those who are undocumented in this country with criminals like Ramos. In his statement to the committee, he referred to "illegal immigrants" as "transparent criminals in a broken system that lets them kill or injure honest citizens."

Asked by GOP Congressman Steve King of Iowa to expand his remarks, Tranchant continued to place hoof in gullet.

"I don't want undesirable people in America," he said. "I don't want drunks in America . . . We want desirable people here."

Tranchant may not have meant it that way, but the phrase "undesirable people" sounded like a code word. Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois) took Tranchant to task for his characterizations. He pointed out that the same sort of derogatory descriptions were used to condemn Italian and Irish immigrants in their day.

"They were wrong about the Irish," Gutierrez informed Tranchant. "They were wrong about the Italians . . . And they're wrong today to tarnish a whole immigrant community because of the actions of a few."


The minority Republicans scored some hits during the hearing, but too often their tactics were simply diversionary and, sometimes, they exploded in their hands like mishandled grenades.

The most significant was the attempt to smear Mesa Police Chief Gascón. No doubt this was because Gascón's opening statement was particularly effective, pointing out at length the problems with the 287(g) program, the wedge it drives between the police and immigrant communities, and its potential for abuse by certain bad actors, who were left unnamed in Gascón's initial salvo.

"The impact on local law enforcement in this politically charged environment [created by the 287(g) program] can be devastating," Gascón related. "In some cases, it is setting the police profession back to the 1950s and 1960s, when police officers were sometimes viewed in minority communities as the enemy."

Gascón took some veiled swipes at Arpaio.

"In some cases, enforcement decisions are being based on politics instead of professional public-safety concerns," he said, later observing that "often, these poorly conceived and politically motivated enforcement efforts are placing officers in harm's way . . ."

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Mel Giddon
Mel Giddon

Thank you for giving us coverage that no other newspaper even comes close to. I myslef would love to see andy thom ass and his side kick joey BOY untough idiot out of az and barred from coming back. will see you all at the anti idiot march !!!! Ill have a sign for sure, !!!

Dave Beck
Dave Beck

You don't need Congress to fix the problem.

Just pack up and move to Mexico, where you will be safe from all these terible acts. Then you can drive freely without any concerns of being wrongly pulled over or falsly arrested.You will be secure and safe from injustice before you are shot in the head from a drug cartel member or knifed in the gut in an alley for your wallet.

Richard Keefe
Richard Keefe

It seems you can judge the strength of a man�s arguments by the number of ad hominem attacks he feels he has to use to back them up.

�Defending the Pioneer Fund? Whew.�

I don�t know much about the Pioneer Fund, but yeah, I�d defend them over the Klan in a heartbeat. I�m sorry if your hero used to work for the Klan, and it�s nice that he felt bad about it, (not bad enough to return the money, or give it to charity or to the victims�), but at least he realized what a scuzzy thing it was to do. Good for Mo.

�So what if they\'ve never broken any laws?�

Ah, well, Gerry, that�s the rub, isn�t it? Whatever opinions the PF hold, and whatever research they support, it�s all 100% legal. It�s called the First Amendment and I happen to believe strongly in that amendment. If that�s what you call �defending the Pioneer Fund,� well, so be it. I also defend the SPLC�s right to publish its opinions, but I reserve the right to question those opinions, just as you do to believe them.

Heck, even Claude Henley, Mo�s Klan Klient had every right to be a Klansman by law. It wasn�t until he attacked a bus load of Freedom Riders who were fighting for equal rights in the South that Claude crossed the line. Have you seen the action photos in LIFE magazine of Claude and his Klan brothers attacking the journalists on the bus? I have. Nasty stuff. Fortunately, Claude had a good lawyer and beat the rap.

There are a lot of groups out there with which I disagree, and the PF may well be one of them, but they all have a right to their own opinions, regardless of whose feelings get hurt. Sorry, you can�t just censor everyone with whom you disagree, Gerry. That�s what Hitler would have done.

�You equate these two things -- F.A.I.R. taking $1.2 million from an unabashedly racist organization, and Morris Dees taking $5K to defend a local Klansman.

Yeah, I guess I do. Neither party broke any laws by taking the money; in both cases, it was a moral decision. You seem to feel that Mo taking the $5,000 grand from the Klan several years before he opened the SPLC exonerates him. Well, if so, then FAIR taking the money from the PF over a 12 year span from 1982 through 1994 must also be beyond your statute of moral limitations. You can�t have it both ways, Gerry. Pick one.

�That F.A.I.R. has taken $1.2 million from PF indicates an ideological kinship.�

But Mo taking the $5,000 was just �business�? C�mon, Gerry, did you actually say that one out loud before you typed it? I�ll give you a Mulligan on that one and let you have a do-over. Even someone as articulate as you can hit one into the rough from time to time.

��even though Dees learns from this experience and goes on to found the mightiest anti-Klan organization in the nation, one that famously brought the United Klans of America to its knees��

Ah yes, the infamous United Klans case�lol, now who�s being disingenuous, Gerry? In November 2000, Harper�s Magazine published an expose of you hero titled �The Church of Morris Dees� in which it gives the actual details of Mo�s magnum opus.

�In 1987, Dees won a $7 million judgment against the United Klans of America on behalf of Beulah Mae Donald, whose son was lynched by two Klansmen. The UKA's total assets amounted to a warehouse whose sale netted Mrs. Donald $51,875. According to a groundbreaking series of newspaper stories in the Montgomery Advertiser, the SPLC, meanwhile, made $9 million from fund-raising solicitations featuring the case, including one containing a photo of Michael Donald's corpse.�(http://www.thedustininmansocie... and here�s the photo the SPLC used to raise the $9 million. WARNING: Not for the squeamish: (

Was it a heinous crime? You betcha. Were the Klansman brought to justice? Yes. Henry Hays was electrocuted and James Knowles is serving a life sentence. Did Morris Dees play ANY part in this? None whatsoever. In fact, as we know, Mr. Dees has gotten more Klansmen OUT of prison than he�s ever sent there.

What Mo DID do was to step in after the fact and sue the United Klans for everything the corporation owned� a $52,000 warehouse. Seven million, seven billion, it matters not, all the UKA had was a lousy warehouse. Millionaire Mo used Mrs. Donald�s son as a fundraiser and never gave her a dime of the profits he made off it. Some hero.

And after the warehouse was seized, what exactly happened to the UKA to �bring it to its knees�? Nothing. There was no sunburst, no celestial choir indicating that the misguided Klansmen had seen the error of their ways. Not other one member was ever indicted for anything by Mo Dees. They just met somewhere else. The whole was a publicity stunt that any first year lawyer could have accomplished; all the laws were already in place.

Mo pulled the same thing in Kentucky last year. The three thugs arrested for the beating of Jordan Gruver were convicted and serving time when Mo went after the Imperial Klans of America. Mo played no part in "fighting hate" when the perpertrators were already in prison.

Mo doesn�t have a license to practice law in Kentucky, so the actual suit was filed by local lawyers Steven R. Crebessa and William F. McMurry, who gave Mo permission to come in as a �special guest star.� The suit was already filed by two capable, local lawyers and based on precedent of existing laws, but Mo sniffed an opportunity to make some money on the deal. In the final analysis, all Mo brought to the proceedings was publicity.

�Even your figures are duplicitous.�

I compared apples to apples, the line reading �Supporting Services Management and General� from both annual reports.

But given your superior skills at reading tax forms, to which I duly bow, we�ll use your numbers.

Adding up lines 25 through 26 of the SPLC�s Form 990, their salary outlay goes from $3,955,430 to $8,075,133. I�m glad you caught that. Incidentally, the first $1,225,500 of those donor dollars went to compensate the top FIVE officers of the SPLC, all of whom are White, which compares favorably to the $1.3 million you attribute to the entire staff of FAIR.

Eight million is a pretty hefty payroll to come up with each year. Good thing they have an a-one PR man in Mark Potok.

�Plus there\'s F.A.I.R.\'s legal arm and spin-off organizations that you have not accounted for as far as salaries go.�

Funny you should mention the legal arm. According to page 16 of the SPLC�s annual report, (, they took in over $30 million in donations for the year, but only spent $7 million in �legal services�.

Given that they are a �law center� and are fully staffed with in-house lawyers, including the great Morris Dees, and are paying over $6.85 million in other compensation to various underlings, exactly whose legal services did they spend the $7 million on? Did they pay it to themselves on top of their annual compensation?

And if $7 million a year is all the greatest law center in the world spends on �legal services� and considering that their �Endowment Fund� earned over $20 million in interest that year, why does the SPLC have to solicit ANY additional funds? Total compensation and �legal costs� come to about $15 million. That still leaves $5 million to add to the $200 million the SPLC has sitting in the bank without soliciting a single dime from the public.

I couldn�t help but notice that you avoided mentioning the Endowment Fund, Gerry. You also seemed to have ignored the fact that the Better Business Bureau no longer accredits the SPLC. Well, BBB is probably a secret code for KKK.

The SPLC has hoarded so much money that the American Institute of Philanthropy gives them a grade of �F�. They�re probably Nazis too.

You can call me as many names as you want, Gerry, or try to smear me by association with whatever groups you can think of, but the simple fact remains that the SPLC is one of the most profitable non-profits on the planet.

It�s ALL about the money. Period.

Just for kicks, try responding without the ad hominems, Gerry.

Gerry Larson
Gerry Larson

If the shoe fits, Dick...Defending the Pioneer Fund? Whew. So what if they\'ve never broken any laws? They advocate a thinly-veiled, pseudoscientific racism. Harry Laughlin, the founding president of the Pioneer Fund, greatly admired the Nazis and their efforts in the area of \"racial hygiene.\"

I refer you to a paper written in 2002 by Professor Paul Lombardo for the Albany Law Review detailing the contacts between German and American racists ( After all, the founding fathers of the Pioneer Fund are your intellectual forebears, and you should really bone up on them.

That F.A.I.R. has taken $1.2 million from PF indicates an ideological kinship. And it\'s quite unlike Dees defending a Klansman for $5,000, years before helping to found the SPLC. It\'s not as if F.A.I.R. founder John Tanton woke up one morning after F.A.I.R. took money from this racist org and said, \"By God, I\'m violating my own moral principles!\" See, F.A.I.R., John Tanton and the Pioneer Fund are in complete ideological sync.

You equate these two things -- F.A.I.R. taking $1.2 million from an unabashedly racist organization, and Morris Dees taking $5K to defend a local Klansman early in his legal career -- even though Dees learns from this experience and goes on to found the mightiest anti-Klan organization in the nation, one that famously brought the United Klans of America to its knees, bankrupting it in the process. If you think you\'re fooling anyone with this false analogy, then you are only fooling yourself.

Interestingly, your picayune review of the financial information disclosed by the SPLC and F.A.I.R. further hacks away at your implied assertion that the SPLC is guilty of some financial shenanigans. Sure, even a pseudointellectual racist such as yourself was able to locate F.A.I.R.\'s IRS form 990 online. But the SPLC\'s financial disclosure info is far more detailed. F.A.I.R. does not include all of the attached statements, unlike the SPLC. And so, we do not know how much exactly F.A.I.R.\'s hired hands are making. Convenient, eh?

Even your figures are duplicitous. You state a figure of $641,441 for total F.A.I.R. salaries, yet you ignore the \"Statement of Functional Expenses,\" line 26, which clearly indicates that for \"Salaries and wages of employees not included on lines 25a, b and c,\" there is a total of over $1.3 million.

Plus there\'s F.A.I.R.\'s legal arm and spin-off organizations that you have not accounted for as far as salaries go.

You can continue this pettiness regarding tax returns ad infinitum. But ultimately you\'re just spouting red herrings and biased, unbalanced claims. You\'re not concerned with how much money the SPLC has to do its vital work. In reality, you dislike the work the SPLC does to hamper and distress the activities of neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and more polished racists such as those in F.A.I.R.


"Till then, may I suggest that Keefe keep his filthy racist mouth shut."

Suggest away, Gerry, it won't do you any good. I'm sorry that you didn't like what I had to say about Mo, but not surprised that you had to resort to ad hominem insults. It's what bigots do when they don't like the message: They smear the messenger.

Secondly, I know probably even less about FAIR than you do, so I'm not here to defend or accuse them, but maybe I can clear up a few of the fallacies you've spread based on nothing more than public information available to anyone with an Internet connection.

Finding IRS Form 990 information for FAIR was even easier than for the SPLC, ( Rocket science, this ain't, Gerry, all non-profits have to make their records available to the public.

On page 21 of FAIR's annual report it says they took in $6,779,780 for 2007, compared to $30,340,135 for the SPLC for the same period (

FAIR paid out $641,441 in salaries that year; the SPLC, $3,955,430. The top two officers at the SPLC, Mo Dees and Dick Cohen were together compensated more than the entire staff of FAIR combined- $687,720 donor dollars.

The SPLC also ended the fiscal year with $201,710,465 in its "Endowment Fund". That's over two hundred MILLION dollars for the innumerates out there, and yet every month, like clockwork, the cries go out for more donations.

One other thing I noticed was that the FAIR annual report included the "Accredited Charity" seal from the Better Business Bureau, something the SPLC cannot claim, due to "...a lack of commitment to transparency." Check them out for yourself, Gerry. (

I have to admit, Gerry, your defense of Morris Dees accepting $5,000 from the KKK was touching. Mo Dees DID say the event was a "turning point" in his life, but apparently not quite to the point of turning the money over to the needy. Five thousand 1962 dollars would have fed a LOT of hungry people, Gerry, but Millionaire Mo just chucked it into the vault with the rest of his money.

And the difference between the Pioneer Fund and the KKK? The Pioneer Fund has never once broken a single law. You may not like their research but they are 100% entitled to study anything they want. The $1.2 million dollars the Fund donated to FAIR over the course of nine years was entirely legal and about a third of what Millionaire Mo scooped out of the donor pot.

I hope I've answered all of your charges and smears, though I doubt it. Somehow, no matter what proof you provide you can never satisfy a bigot.

Gerry Larson
Gerry Larson

Richard Keefe\'s malignment of Morris Dees, a great American and founder of the SPLC, is sinister and full of duplicity. For instance, he mentions a passage from Dees\' 1991 autobiography \"A Season for Justice,\" where Dees talks about defending a Klansman for $5,000 early in his legal career. What Keefe fails to tell you is that the experience transformed Dees, and that Dees holds himself accountable in his book after he\'s challenged by a black man who asks him, \"How can you represent people like that?\"

Dees remembers the incident as a watershed moment: \"I felt the anger of a black person for the first time...Here I was feeling that I was friends with blacks, remembering that I had spoken up for Emmett Till and Autherine Lucy, and all of a sudden this young man was doubting me. I vowed then and there that nobody would ever again doubt where I stood.\"

Keefe compares this moment in Dees\' life to F.A.I.R. taking $1.2 million from a group that believes in scientific racism? Maybe if F.A.I.R. one day decides to advocate for illegal immigrants. Otherwise, there\'s no comparison. Such are the lies of the far right, that they twist the words of an honest man in order to blacken his name.

As for the comments about the salaries of Dees and Mark Potok, please note that Keefe gets his info from an IRS disclosure form published by the SPLC on its own Web site. Can Keefe point to the same document online for F.A.I.R., stating how much F.A.I.R.\'s staff of dissemblers are paid for lobbying for the cause of nativism? Till then, may I suggest that Keefe keep his filthy racist mouth shut.


Whether you folks consider the article as valid or fitting really is not important. I see that both of you read it, so that must mean it's of interest to others, such as myself. What you folks don't like is that the story chronicles many facts and truths that you folks don't like to see in print. I can see how an arpaio supporter would be upset to see the truth about the MCSO misapplication of 287(g) authority being told to the world. Unfortunately for MCSO and I.C.E. it's becoming well known that MCSO and some other organizations are, indeed, misusing or abusing said authority and victimization is occurring as a result. That victimization is going to result in removal of 287(g) authority from some agencies, such as MCSO.

For the record I am NOT 'pro-illegal anything'. Nor am I against the ideal of a policy such as 287(g). Rather I am FOR professional law enforcement, and that's NOT what is happening with MCSO under the control and direction of the MCSO county shurf.


Wow, this is pretty embarrassing to read. You can usually judge the strength of an argument by the number of ad hominem attacks, but this one is really sad.

"...Federation for American Immigration Reform," an organization that has taken $1.2 million from a group dedicated to eugenics, according to the SPLC."

Well, on pages 84-85 of his autobiography, SPLC founder Morris Dees brags about taking $5,000 from the Klan to represent Klansman Claude Henley in Federal Court. Henley was charged with attacking Freedom Riders on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1962. Dees got Henley off scott-free, the Klan cut a check and Dees kept the money. (Dees, Morris, "A Season for Justice", Charles Scribner's Sons, 1991).

Wouldn't this make Dees a "Klan lawyer"? That's how his PR man Potok would have smeared him if he wasn't the boss. Dees and Potok split just under half a million dollars in donations between them last year, including the $20,000 donor dollar raise multimillionaire Dees gave himself. (

"...they got Gasc�o acknowledge that his ticket was paid for by non-profit immigration-reform groups that wanted him to testify."

If Gasc�dmits to accepting the money why not identify the groups? FAIR is a non-profit immigration-reform group. Why not identify the others as well so we know who all the players are?

Again, this is one of the most embarrassing things I've read in years.


Is this considered a serious article by a supposed newspaper reporter?

No wonder newspapers are losing money and circulation!

This guy calling himself a reporter, aptly named Lemons or is Lemming, is hilarious and sad, very sad...

Hello ever heard the definition of "Editorial"? If you have not this article is the prototype for one!!!

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