I blogged about Napolitano's appearance yesterday, and hoped that Maher would question Napolitano about creating a national immigration police force under the 287(g) program. That program transforms beat cops into immigration enforcers empowered to ask Americans and non-Americans alike for "their papers."
Apparently, immigration activists want Maher to ask Napolitano about this and other matters as well, including her relationship with Sheriff Joe Arpaio and her unwillingness to sever his 287(g) agreement despite his numerous civil rights violations and the fact he's being investigated by the Department of Justice.
Let's hope the activists are successful in urging Maher to ask Napolitano about these subjects. They might also want to hit up Maher on his Facebook and Twitter accounts to suggest questions for the DHS head. She rarely has to field tough queries from the media. Maybe this Friday will be an exception.
Here's the NDLON press release:
Contact (Engish y Español): Loyda Alvarado, (323) 434- 8115
What: Press Conference, Rally, and Demonstration
Why: To Urge Bill Maher to Ask Secretary Napolitano about DHS Racial Profiling Practices, 287(g), Joe Arpaio
Where: 7800 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA (Near corner of Beverly and Fairfax)
When: Friday, July 24, 2009
Time: 5:30 to 7 pm
(Los Angeles) Immigrant, civil, and labor rights advocates will hold a rally and press conference outside the taping of Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday at 5:30 pm. Protestors will urge Mr. Maher to ask tough questions of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano about her relationship with the notorious Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Specifically, Secretary Napolitano should be asked why DHS has not severed its contract with Arpaio (Napolitano's hometown sheriff), and why DHS opted last week to expand a failed experimental Bush immigration enforcement policy that has demonstrably resulted in mass racial profiling.
During his press conference yesterday, President Obama used very strong language to denounce racial profiling practices by local police. However, last week week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the expansion of the widely-criticized 287(g) program, which outsources federal immigration enforcement authority to local sheriffs. In recent years, Joe Arpaio has become a symbol of the program's failure, as his use of 287g has resulted widespread allegations of racial profiling. The Department of Justice recently launched a high-profile investigation of Arpaio's practices. Indeed, Sheriff Arpaio's relationship with neo-nazi's has been noted by Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon; Arpaio himself has said it's an honor to be called KKK; and he has even posed for photos with high-profile neo-nazi's. The New York Times has published several editorials calling for the termination of the 287(g) program in general and Arpaio's contract in particular. Those editorials are available here, here, here, and most recently, here.
Salvador Reza, a community leader in Phoenix, issued the following statement: "Secretary Napolitano has the legal authority and the moral obligation to end Arpaio's reign of terror in her hometown of Phoenix. Instead, she is expanding the 287(g) program and intends to make the country look like Maricopa County. We hope Bill Maher has the courage to ask hard questions of Secretary Napolitano."
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.