See also SB 1070: Supreme Court Upholds "Papers Please" Section, Invalidates Others
See also Brewer Declares "Victory" as Court Tosses Unconstitutional SB 1070 Provisions
See also Babeu Turns Distortion of Truth Into an Art Form
See also Babeu Calls Obama's DREAM Act Policy "Shocking"
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is aghast that one of his deputies pulled over a 17-year-old Latino who reportedly admitted he was undocumented, and federal immigration authorities were "not interested in him unless he committed a felony crime."
In a press release, the gay border hawk wails that this encounter with the young man -- whom Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials wouldn't deport -- is the "first of many examples in which law enforcement across Arizona shall be left without assistance from ICE."
In reality, the incident serves as another example of what the Latino community has been concerned would happen when local cops start acting as immigration enforcement agents.
The PCSO deputy didn't only call ICE to report the young driver who allegedly committed a traffic violation, the deputy also reported the teenager's parents after the driver "admitted both he and his parents were in the United States illegally," according to Babeu's press release.
The parents had no lawful contact with police. They weren't in the car. They didn't violate any Arizona laws. And yet one of Babeu's deputies called ICE to see if the agency was interested in picking up the parents.
Round 'em all up -- that is the aim of laws like SB 1070.
Supporters of such laws, including Governor Jan Brewer, deflected concerns from the Latino community in 2010 by saying that federal immigration laws would only be enforced after a "lawful stop, detention, or arrest.''
Clearly, this deputy's actions don't fall under the guise of SB 1070 because the section that mandates local law enforcement officers acts as immigration-enforcement agents remains blocked by the courts.
But the actions demonstrate how deputies and police officers are capable handling situations involving undocumented immigrants.
Brewers' mouthpieces insisted that enforcement of immigrant laws would be secondary and would only occur after police made contact with an individual for some other lawful reason.
Latino activist and Phoenix attorney Danny Ortega believes the deputy overstepped his authority. He noted that even if the young man volunteered information about his parents' status, "the deputy has no authority to go beyond [dealing with] the young man, no authority to deal with his parents' legal status."
Ortega predicts that Arizona will experience such situations more often (when, and if, the injunction is lifted on the provision of SB 1070 that specifically mandates that cops act as immigration-enforcement officials).
"You're going to see overzealous officers, deputies who go beyond the authority granted to them by the law," he says.
Babeu claims that with a "wave of their hands," President Obama and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano have "made what was illegal one day, legal the next."
That simply isn't true.
No one has gained legal status because of Obama's policy shift that grants temporary immunity from deportation for certain undocumented individuals brought to the U.S. as children.
(But let's say laws did change, as Babeu erroneously believes, and what was illegal one day was legal the next. If it's legal, then it can't undermine the rule of law because it is the law.)
In his press release, Babeu also quotes Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scailia's dissenting opinion in Arizona v. United States -- the lawsuit against Arizona over SB 1070: "Arizona bears the brunt of the country's illegal immigration problem. Federal officials have been unable to remedy the problem, and indeed have recently shown that they are unwilling to do so."
The Supreme Court shot down three provisions in the law and allowed a fourth that mandates local and state cops enforce federal immigration laws.
"How have we arrived at this point in America, where our own President decides what laws don't apply to illegals," Babeu laments.
But he obviously ignores other passages from the Supreme Court decision that would clearly answer his question.
"Removal is a civil, not criminal, matter," the Justices wrote in the majority opinion. "A principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials...Federal officials, as an initial matter, must decide whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all."
And, later, the justices reiterated that "as a general rule, it is not a crime for a removable alien to remain present in the United States."
Obama and ICE officials now are trying to focus their limited time and resources on deporting undocumented immigrants who are committing felony crimes. It's called "discretion."
Who knows why Babeu is getting so twisted up about Obama's exercising his discretion when it comes to enforcing federal immigration laws. Babeu has done the same thing.
When he was campaigning to serve as Pinal County sheriff the first time, he said publicly that he would not enforce immigration laws on farms or in government buildings. In fact, he made a "commitment" to that effect.
Let's recap Babeu's pledges of selective immigration enforcement.
On February 9, 2011, Babeu appeared on a KVOA, a Tucson television station, and said: "We're not going on farms. We're not going into government buildings looking for illegal immigrants or workers without proper ID. I'm going directly after the armed threat from cartels."
On February 24, 2011, Babeu also discussed his own discretion with KGUN, another Tucson television station:
"I've never, I've never gone onto farms. You know how many people would like me to do that? Quite a few. You know how many people want me to pursue, uh, employers? You know how many people want me to aggressively, um, go into other workplaces and government buildings? I've never done that. One, I don't have the resources to do that. Two, that is not my primary focus...The threat and the dangers are too great and too real when it comes to cartel activity and trafficking through my county...I barely have enough resources to bring the fight against them. And that's the most severe threat."
And during an appearance before the American Agri-Women's Annual Symposium on April 9, 2011, Babeu was adamant:
"I'm not against any type of guest-worker program! Obviously. I made a commitment when I ran for sheriff -- I don't go on farms. I don't go into government buildings. I don't do all of that! We've got enough on our hands!"
Given Babeu's own track record with selective enforcement of federal immigration laws, it's ironic to read in his press release that "America is a nation of laws, and the President can't simply pick and choose what laws to enforce."
But the sheriff can.
And, just as ironic, is Babeu claiming that Obama simply is trying to "get votes this election year rather than to follow the rule of law."
Because that is
not at all exactly what Babeu was doing during his first run for sheriff.