Local humanitarian groups such as Respect/Respeto have been scrambling to help families devastated by this latest salvo in Joe Arpaio's war on immigrants.

Why is the DHS letting Arpaio raid workplaces as ICE has shifted to less-militaristic means of dealing with undocumented workers? I called DHS spokesman Matt Chandler for a comment.

"Our worksite-enforcement protocol is on employers who knowingly hire illegal workers to circumvent the law," Chandler said. "You're referring to a criminal case in this particular case right now."

Congressman Shadegg blows smoke at his August 8 town hall in Scottsdale.
Stephen Lemons
Congressman Shadegg blows smoke at his August 8 town hall in Scottsdale.
Immigrants Maricela Garcia and Felipe Meza.
Stephen Lemons
Immigrants Maricela Garcia and Felipe Meza.

Chandler insisted ICE was still performing worksite raids as part of criminal investigations into employers, but he offered no recent examples of this.

Then there's the problem of ICE's Arizona-based LEAR program, which operates as part of ICE's Office of Detention and Removal Operations. LEAR stands for Law Enforcement Agency Response. It was set up in 2006 to address complaints by local cops that ICE was not picking up the undocumented they were arresting.

LEAR operates 24-7, and despite ICE spokesman Vinnie Picard's recent assurances to the Arizona Republic that DRO puts priority on the aliens who "pose the most danger to our community," LEAR does pick up non-criminal aliens.

All the time.

Remember the jornalero I wrote about recently, the one Phoenix Law Enforcement Association President Mark Spencer called ICE on, even though the day laborer was booked with no crime? Picard confirmed that it was the LEAR program Spencer phoned.

In an even more egregious example, the Paradise Valley Police Department called LEAR on a husband and wife after they were caught — gasp — fishing from a canal near Stanford Drive and 32nd Street.

Felipe Meza and his wife, Maricela Garcia, had parked their pickup next to the canal. Meza had a fishing permit but not a driver's license. According to Meza, when questioned by a female officer, they both admitted to being in the country illegally.

The PVPD report states that Meza and his wife were warned not to drive the vehicle and to call someone for a ride. The couple claim the cop told them to move the truck two blocks from the canal, park it, and wait for a ride. Either way, the PV police later stopped the pair and arrested Meza for not having an Arizona driver's license. His wife was in the passenger's seat but was taken into custody, too. Both were turned over to LEAR.

The couple have been in the United States for nearly two decades and they have four children who are U.S. citizens. They own a home, Meza is gainfully employed as a painter, and neither have criminal records. Meza is even a fill-in pastor at a local church.

Meza was taken straight to Florence Detention Center, where he was able to call his kids. His wife, ironically, got the worst of it. A diabetic, she says she never received medication her son dropped off at ICE's detention center in Phoenix. She was shipped first to Florence, then to Madison Jail in Phoenix, then to Estrella jail, where, inexplicably, she was put in the hole for 24 hours. Then she was removed to Eloy Detention Center.

ICE tells me this hell ride was due to a lack of bed space. In any case, both she and her husband were lucky. Mesa immigration attorney Delia Salvatierra took them on as clients. Salvatierra cajoled ICE officials, pestering them in person until they gave way and allowed her clients to go, after days in custody, on the condition of a $3,000 bond for each. If Salvatierra hadn't stepped in, both parents would've had to wait much longer to see an immigration judge, who might've set a very high bond, like $10,000 apiece.

They were also fortunate that they are beloved by their community, and those whom Señor Meza helps as a pastor — people who helped take care of their young ones while they were locked up.

Why were these people, who'll likely receive amnesty if Obama ever gets off his duff and pushes immigration reform, not cut loose as the non-criminal aliens in Arpaio's custody were during the East Valley sweep?

Heck, if Arpaio is getting grief from ICE through 287(g), why not call LEAR every time he picks up a non-criminal alien?

Neither Vinnie Picard at the local ICE office nor DHS' Matt Chandler in Washington, D.C., could give me an explanation. Picard pinged his higher-ups numerous times, looking for what to say to me, but he never received a response.

"I know I am undocumented," Maricela Garcia told me through a translator. "I know they have the right to take me to immigration. But not to treat me like an animal."

Indeed, if this is how ICE treats "non-criminal aliens," then Napolitano's calculated attempt to soften ICE's image deserves all the disdain human rights activists and those who call themselves "liberals" can muster.

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13 comments
Todd
Todd

#7 said: [ The 2006 legislation which put Medicare Part D in place included a restriction prohibiting the federal government from negotiating drug prices. That's insane, since every large purchaser (e.g., Walmart) does this with suppliers, so you can bet that the pharmaceutical manufacturing lobby was instrumental in getting this restriction included. ]You are quite right. The sponsor of said legislation is now the chief lobbyist for PHARmA.

William Crum
William Crum

Sorry Tom, I believe that the GOP is so upset that our President is trying to help as many people stay;it's just a crying shame. We can so money on the warsBad) and not dime for our better health(good). You are right that not all do the research but I will leave you with this: the insurance companies are presently exemp from Sherman AntiTrust Law and maybe the first Congress should do is change that. To change should lead to a better pricing for all and maybe we will be able to afford healthcare. Tell me what you think about that. I look for solutions not warfare. Sorry.

Cyrus
Cyrus

Once again, what part of "ILLEGAL" do you not understand? When they crossed the border they broke the law and therefore they are criminals. The couple you were talking about? They have been here to 20 years and they still do not speak English? That's not assimilation and becoming part of our society. They don't want to. They barrio out the neighborhoods, use up countless city, county, state and federal resources (taypayer's money) that Americans could use right now in this economy, then they send the majority of their pay to Mexico, which only benefits Mexico's economy, not ours. There should also be a lot more of employers enforcement, as these companies are saving a lot of money by not having to pay social security, withholding, Medicare, and unemployment taxes, which creates an even bigger financial burden on our social services funding. Why should Illegals (i.e., criminals) get a "get out of jail fee card"?

Delia
Delia

Stephen---thank you for taking an interest in immigration issues and speaking about the problem with dignity and respect on behalf of immigrants. Sadly, what happened to my clients is a recurring theme in federal immigration detention. My clients are true heros for withstanding the indignity they were subjected too. Thanks again, Stephen and I look forwrd to working with you in the future.

Emil Pulsifer
Emil Pulsifer

Frankly, I don't understand why anybody opposes replacing countless private health insurance companies with a single national, non-profit company. By eliminating owner profits and high executive compensation, an immediate cost savings of at least 20 percent would be seen. Additional cost savings would come from eliminating the duplicative overhead costs found among countless private companies keeping track of the same general population pool. And in the insurance game, costs from sick patients are best minimized by spreading them across as large a pool of insured individuals as possible, most of whom are relatively healthy. With a national insurance company the pool would be the entire U.S. population.

Those who want to understand how private insurance works -- why we already have rationed healthcare, why (private) bureaucrats and bean-counters already make life and death decisions about healthcare, why the doctor/patient relationship has already been undermined, and who the real clients of giant healthcare insurance corporations are (hint: it isn't you, even if you are insured through them) -- should read the following website article.

It's written by a whipsmart doctor who spent years dealing with managed private care as the intermediary between patients and insurance companies and HMOs. It's 10 pages, and the really interesting stuff doesn't even start for a few pages into it. The text design and format isn't easy to read and switches around goofily -- somebody get the doctor a webmaster -- but it's detailed, realistic, unsentimental, sizzling hot stuff. Revelatory. And non-partisan. Even if you don't agree on a solution, you need to understand the problem if you're going to make rational decisions on healthcare reform, if not now then in the future. And democracy cannot function properly without rational decisions from the electorate. Read it whether you're opposed to Obama, or for him, or just luke-warm. http://guthealthcare.com/under...

Emil Pulsifer
Emil Pulsifer

See, whenever fat-cat private interests in the Establishment get cozy with supposed reformers, I get nervous. For example, giant insurance companies have their own reasons for supporting some of these proposals, including mandatory insurance. From the LA Times:

Private health insurance faces a bleak future if the proposal they champion most vigorously -- a requirement that everyone buy medical coverage -- is not adopted.

The customer base for private insurance has slipped since 2000, when soaring premiums began driving people out. The recession has accelerated the problem. But even after the economy recovers, the downward spiral is expected to continue for years as baby boomers become eligible for Medicare -- and stop buying private insurance. . . . The industry's real trouble begins in 2011, when 79 million baby boomers begin turning 65. Health insurers stand to lose a huge slice of their commercially insured enrollment (estimated at 162 million to 172 million people) over the next two decades to Medicare, the government-funded health insurance program for seniors.

"The rate of aging far and away exceeds the birth rate," said Sheryl Skolnick, a CRT Capital Group healthcare investment analyst. "That's got to be very scary. . . . This is the biggest fight for survival managed care has ever faced, at least since they went bankrupt in the late '80s."

http://www.latimes.com/feature...

More comments to come including some really useful links.

Emil Pulsifer
Emil Pulsifer

The 2006 legislation which put Medicare Part D in place included a restriction prohibiting the federal government from negotiating drug prices. That's insane, since every large purchaser (e.g., Walmart) does this with suppliers, so you can bet that the pharmaceutical manufacturing lobby was instrumental in getting this restriction included. It is said that this could have cost the government roughly a trillion dollars through 2015, which, ironically, is about how much Obama and related healthcare reform proponents have estimated as the cost of their reforms.

It would be interesting to know where Shadegg stood on the drug lobby's protection clause in the 2006 legislation.

It wouldn't surprise me if the drug lobby supports current legislation with a similar quid pro quo, so in that sense Shadegg may be right. Of course, he has his own, reactionary agenda, but my personal reaction to Obama is that he has slid way too far to the right, and that many of his cabinet members and advisers are in the pockets of big banking and other fat-cat lobbies.

None of which is to say that Obama, as a Clintonite successor, isn't miles and miles better than Bush, or that his proposals and arguments are without merit. Personally though, I wonder if a half-assed approach won't do more harm than good, especially given the fact that the legislation is gigantic and apparently not actually read in totality by anyone except lobbyists and their lawyers, and possibly the congressional staff who expect to get lucrative jobs with them later on.

Supposedly we have a "free market" but cannot freely import drugs from countries like Mexico and Canada which provide equivalent generics for (in some cases) vastly lower prices. I recently spoke with someone with some serious health issues who spends about $25 a month after travelling to Mexico for drugs which in the U.S. cost about $400. He swears by them.

I may have a bit more to add (and more constructively) as a later comment. Not enough online time at the moment.

Tom
Tom

William -- I not only don't believe in the tooth fairy, I don't believe in mandating that someone else be responsible for putting money under my kid's pillow when he does loose a tooth. With regard to my previous comment -- I was just pointing out that there are two sides to every story and a reasonable person could go beyond the stated facts, do a little research, and see that the truth usually lies somewhere in between. I will leave it at that, if you want to continue to attack me personally, don't expect an answer. You won't get one.

Former Republican
Former Republican

Stephen, Great investigative work. Thanks for the public service in following the money and the hypocrisy with these self-serving Arizona congressmen. Time for change and housecleaning!

Tom
Tom

Saying that Shadegg outspent Lord by a million dollars only tells half of the story. The FEC shows that candidate expenditures by the party on behalf of Lord were one million dollars more than Shadegg and party expenditures against Shadegg were one million dollars more than against Lord. That means 1 million dollars more was spent on Lord's campaign (Remember the endless commercials!!!) than Shadegg's. http://www.fec.gov/press/press... And since the Democratic Party gets lots of money from the Healthcare Industry where do you suppose that money spent on Lord's behalf originally came from?

William Crum
William Crum

As soon as the GOP can figure out how they can really make money over these situation, will probaly be the only time that you see movement on this issue. It's all about the money.

Coz
Coz

Shedhead is like any other politician, full of bullshit and what's in it for me.

 
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