You'd have to mine Davy Jones' locker to discover the true depth of our Democratic ex-governor's duplicity over the federal government's 287(g) program, the new rules for which were announced with great fanfare by Janet Napolitano's Department of Homeland Security two weeks ago.
The press was informed that the DHS was instituting a brand-spankin'-new, standardized memorandum of agreement, a sort of contract governing the training of beat cops to enforce federal immigration law. All 66 localities that already had memorandums with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which falls under the jurisdiction of the DHS, would have to sign new contracts. Homeland Security also announced the expansion of the program, with 11 new law enforcement agencies signed to the new memorandums.
Homeland Security offered up a side-by-side analysis of the new and old memorandums, giving everyone the distinct impression that bad actors, such as our own Sheriff Joe Arpaio, would be reined in under the novel dictates.
Arpaio's high-profile abuses of the program since he joined it in 2007 were ignored: You know, immigrant moms torn from their tots; women who ended up with a broken arm or jaw after being coerced by one or more of Arpaio's 160 287(g)-trained thugs; unconstitutional sweeps that sowed fear in Hispanic neighborhoods and brought on a federal civil rights lawsuit against the sheriff because of his racial-profiling ways.
All such deeds would be forgiven and forgotten by Homeland Security if Arpaio were to sign anew on the line that is dotted.
Homeland Security spokesman Matt Chandler explained to me from D.C. that the new memorandums would target "criminal aliens," with prioritization given to rapists, killers, and drug dealers. You know, instead of the landscapers and car-washers the MCSO's used to collaring. As for the sweeps, Chandler suggested that if Arpaio wanted to use his 287(g) authority in a sweep or worksite raid, an "ICE supervisor" would have to approve "a copy of the operation plan."
The department's press release stated that arresting someone on a bogus charge — as is often done by the MCSO — for the actual purpose of turning over the warm body to ICE would be discouraged.
"To address concerns that individuals may be arrested for minor offenses as a guise to initiate removal proceedings," reads Homeland Security news release, "the new agreement explains that participating local law enforcement agencies are required to pursue all criminal charges that originally caused the offender to be taken into custody."
Nationally and locally, journos reported that the new memorandum could crimp Arpaio's style. Arpaio played along, kvetching — but not too loudly or long — that the new rules were aimed at him and would mean fewer illegals pulled in by his gendarmes. He referred to the new memorandum as "sugar-coated amnesty."
But Arpaio didn't walk away from the 287(g) program. Rather, he said the Sheriff's Office would review the changes. According to Homeland Security, he has 90 days to do so. Even before the actual boilerplate of the memorandum was released, the expectation at ICE was that Arpaio would comply. After all, Arpaio knows how to stretch a loophole 'til it bursts, noted one ICE guy I know And even with (possibly) increased federal oversight, Arpaio could still conduct sweeps under state law.
Notably, Homeland Security did not release the language of the new memorandum until a full week after its press release announcing the expansion and revision of the 287(g) program. The American Civil Liberties Union had to file a Freedom of Information Act request to get Homeland Security to produce the goods, and when the goods were got and passed around, it was immediately apparent to everyone in the immigrant-rights crowd that they'd been had. The ACLU issued a searing indictment of the new memorandum, bemoaning the government's mainly "cosmetic" changes.
"Contrary to [the] announcement, the new 287(g) memorandum of agreement is not substantially different from the Bush administration's memorandum, observed ACLU legislative counsel Joanne Lin, "including the much-abused agreement currently in place in Maricopa County, Arizona."
Mimicking Homeland Security's side-by-side PR doc, the ACLU issued its own side-by-side analysis, contrasting what Homeland Security said the new memorandum established with reality. Indeed, laying down the new and old memorandums and reading them together is a little like comparing "new and improved" coffee with its old version and finding out that what's new about it is less coffee in the can.
In fact, the new agreement expands the powers of 287(g) officers, lessens the amount of experience a 287(g)-man (or -woman) should have (from two years of law enforcement experience to one), and maintains vague requirements for data collection.
Infuriatingly, despite President Barack Obama's call for openness and transparency in government, the memorandum actually states that documents resulting from the partnership between ICE and locals "shall not be considered public records."
This Soviet-style regulation reminds me of what I had to go through to get a list of the names of the MCSO's 287(g) officers. After several weeks, the federal government "responded" to my FOIA request, but with a list minus the actual names. (You'd have to see the doc, with deputies' names blacked out, to believe it.)
Yet the Sheriff's Office, not usually known for its willingness to comply with public-records requests, forked over the names almost immediately. That roster would now be unobtainable under the new memorandum.
But what really made my noggin go kablooey like an American hotel in Jakarta was examining, line by line, the verbiage in the new memorandum that supposedly supports Homeland Security's initial claim, in its July 10 press release, that "participating local law enforcement agencies are required to pursue all criminal charges that originally caused the offender to be taken into custody."
What does the new memorandum state?
"The AGENCY is expected to pursue to completion all criminal charges that caused the alien to be taken into custody and over which the AGENCY has jurisdiction."
Compare this to the language for the current memorandum for Maricopa County, which says, "The [MCSO] is expected to pursue to completion prosecution of the state and local charges that caused the individual to be taken into custody."
See any bloody huge difference? I certainly don't. So what is it that keeps the MCSO from arresting immigrants "for minor offenses as a guise to initiate removal proceedings"?
There is new language in the agreement about the "purpose" of the "collaboration" between locals and feds, this being to "enhance the safety and security of communities by focusing resources on "criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety or a danger to the community." And there is a three-tiered prioritization of these criminals, with violent offenders at the top. But will the oversight or the political will be there to pull back Arpaio from collaring corn vendors?
Ultimately, you have to ask yourself why Homeland Security even bothered crafting a new agreement if it was going to continue to allow room for abuse on a broad scale. The reason is, Napolitano wants to maintain 287(g) but has to fend off pro-immigration voices demanding an end to the raids, sweeps, and other abuses that Arpaio and other rogue lawmen have instituted.
One of the most passionate and intelligent critics of 287(g), Aarti Shahani — co-author of Justice Strategies' devastating report on 287(g), "Local Democracy on ICE" — was never fooled. In an appearance on the lefty Webcast program GRITtv, she told host Laura Flanders that Napolitano's 287(g) flimflammery reveals the essence of who Janet Napolitano is: an "immigration hawk" and a "law-and-order extremist."
Bravo. Those on the left who demand justice and compassion for the undocumented should have no illusions about Napolitano. She is their enemy, and every move she makes should be suspect.
Whenever ofays start whining about brown and black folk being biased against crackers, I hark back to my youth in North Carolina, growing up the eldest of three boys.
As my parents can testify, three boys in a household ensure a constant state of warfare. When we weren't fighting, we were trying to one-up each other and get each other in trouble.
Before we hit our teens, my mom and dad tried to enforce clean language amongst us. (After becoming teenagers, they realized it was hopeless.) So one way I could make sure my siblings received punishment from on high was to accuse them of using certain ribald words. Frequently, I'd use them myself then accuse one brother or another of the same offense, for which he'd promptly get sent to his room.
Accusing others of something you are guilty of often works. Coming to maturity in the South, I wish I had a dollar for every time some dumb racist said, "Why isn't there a National Association for the Advancement of White People?"
Such are my thoughts observing the treatment of two wise Latina jurists, U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and U.S. District Court Judge Mary Murguia, who sits on the federal bench in Phoenix.
In Sotomayor's case, the tactic fell flat.
Southern senators, such as Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, homed in on Sotomayor's previous comments concerning her Puerto Rican heritage, suggesting they rendered her incapable of making judgments based on the law. But Sotomayor was the one who came away looking earnest and impartial.
With Murguia, the tactic worked beautifully, albeit with the help of a few subpoenas.
See, Murguia was, until recently, the judge hearing the big racial-profiling lawsuit filed by the ACLU, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Phoenix law firm Steptoe & Johnson against Arpaio and the MCSO. On July 15, she recused herself from the case in response to a motion from Arpaio's lawyers.
Aside from being the first Latina appointed to the federal court in Phoenix, Murguia is also the twin sister of Janet Murguia, the president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, the most powerful Hispanic-advocacy group in America. And as you can imagine, neither Janet Murguia nor the council is a fan of Arpaio, the Hispanic-hunting ogre.
(To those bumpkins who think the "La Raza" in NCLR translates to "the race," it is actually translated more broadly to mean "the people" or "the Hispanic people." You are the same mental heavyweights who would probably agree with that old saw about the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.)
Arpaio counsel Tim Casey, who has enriched himself mightily in county coin by representing the sheriff, argued that Mary Murguia was conflicted by her sibling's position and enmity toward Arpaio. Casey further argued in the motion for recusal he signed that Mary Murguia had a "natural bias" against his client, a suggestion she took exception to.
Murguia observed that the natural-bias assertion "could easily be interpreted as an argument that this court's alleged bias somehow flows from her racial heritage."
The jurist also found the notion absurd that any reasonable individual "would automatically ascribe the views of one sibling to another." She rejected every one of Casey's legal arguments for her recusal. But, ultimately, she concluded that she "must be vigilant to avoid even the slightest appearance of impropriety" and granted the defense's motion. The case is now assigned to Lawrence O. Anderson, a magistrate judge, though it's expected that his role will be temporary.
Both the plaintiffs' attorneys and Judge Murguia noted that her sister's job was no secret, and that the defense counsel should have known about it. However, they didn't object to Mary Murguia until 13 days after she ruled against a February motion to dismiss the case. Keep in mind, Murguia had been assigned to the case since 2007.
Aiding Murguia in her decision was the fact that Arpaio's lawyers hit her sister with subpoenas seeking all written correspondence between them concerning Arpaio, the 287(g) program, and allegations of abuse. There were also subpoenas for correspondence between Janet Murguia and the U.S. Department of Justice, the ACLU, MALDEF, Steptoe & Johnson, Somos America, ACORN, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, Chicanos por la Causa, County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, "the media," any member of Congress, Homeland Security, ICE, and her brother Ramon Murguia, a federal judge in Kansas.
This, of course, is standard operating procedure for Arpaio and his faction. Go on a fishing expedition. Go after family members. Create a conflict where none exists.
MALDEF attorney Kristina Campbell opined that Murguia was probably already going to rule as she did on the motion to recuse herself, but the subpoenas might've helped spur the process.
"I can't fault her," Campbell told me. "If my family were being attacked like that in a very personal way . . . I can understand why she recused herself. I wish she hadn't done it, but I respect her decision, and she set forth her reasons very eloquently."
Strong-arming a federal judge by going after her family. Accusing a Hispanic jurist of having a "natural bias" against whitey, when you're the poster great-granddaddy for racial profiling yourself. Call it brass, call it shamelessness. Arpaio and his flunkies are so weighed down by it, it's a wonder they can bend over to tie their Florsheims.
Anyone catch the item reported by Fox 10 News' Sarah Acevedo about the dozen or more cars hit with swastikas and other racist graffiti in Fountain Hills?
Fountain Hills is Arpaio's stomping ground, and the MCSO provides law enforcement for the town. Acevedo felt duty-bound to give the sheriff a call about the vandalism. Arpaio was out of town, but via long distance, he condemned the vile vandalism to Fox 10, according to Acevedo.
Arpaio has a funny way of showing his disapproval, giving neo-Nazis the time of day and a photo-op at a May 2 counterdemonstration to the anti-Joe "Walk for Respect." As I reported in my May 14 cover story ("Ja, Joe!"), Neo-Nazis, extremist nativists, and white supremacists love the sheriff, and since he's an egomaniac on par with Benito Mussolini, Arpaio tends to love anyone who showers him with affection.
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Call it the love that dare not speak its name — at least not during an MCSO press conference.
One of those affected by the Fountain Hills incident was a resident whose girlfriend's ride was tagged by the not-yet-apprehended neo-Nazi punks involved. The man, who lost family members in the Holocaust, was miffed by the demeanor of MCSO deputies who took his girlfriend's complaint. To another news outlet, he mentioned their "blasé" attitude.
Hey, the swordfish rots from the sheriff down.
The message is clear to the sheriff's National Socialist supporters: On Mexicans, they and Arpaio are on the same page. Arpaio's attitude emboldens them and encourages such pro-Aryan antics. It may be an unintended consequence on Arpaio's end, but it's a consequence all the same.