Next time President Barack Obama comes whistling through Ari-bama, we should greet him with a new ditty: "Hail to the Profiler in Chief."
Because for all the highfalutin speechifying, all the promise of change, Obama has waffled on one thing you'd think would be a top priority for a so-called progressive who counts lefty icon Saul Alinsky as one of his formative influences.
This being the human and civil rights of those living within the boundaries of these United States.
For as Obama polishes his halo and practices his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, he is simultaneously complicit in the nefarious racial-profiling activities of our rogue lawman Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
True, as a sop to the Latino community and some (though by no means all) lefties, Obama's underlings have stripped Arpaio of his 287(g) field authority — and, putatively, the power to lawfully enforce federal immigration statutes.
But the 287(g) program remains unchanged in Arpaio's jails, with a new agreement, freshly minted by the Obama administration, giving federal authority to more than 60 officers to continue breaking the arms, busting the jaws, and violating the human rights of Latinos unfortunate enough to fall into one of Joe's hellholes (see "Driving While Brown," the latest segment in our online series "Are Your Papers in Order?").
When I challenged national ICE honcho John Morton on this very point during a press-conference phone call last week, wherein he discussed an expansion of the 287(g) program across the nation, he grew testy and said he did not wish to discuss "philosophy" with me. I told him there was nothing philosophical about those who've suffered in the barbaric conditions of Arpaio's gulags.
As for nullifying Arpaio's federal mandate in the streets, Morton acted as if ICE had done something principled.
"We ultimately determined that his sweeps were not consistent with our priorities," Morton told me.
Morton regurgitated his line on Rick Sanchez's CNN show, detailing why this Arpaio guy was so heinous while never discussing how he and Arpaio were still joined at the hip in Joe's medieval jails.
"[Arpaio's] sweeps are overbroad," Morton told Sanchez. "They don't have a particular focus or priority on criminal offenders, and he does it in a way that isn't marked by cooperation and coordination with the communities that he serves. And if we're going to enter into a partnership to enforce portions of immigration law, it needs to be done with someone who is working closely with the communities within which they serve, and someone who is focused on the right priorities — namely going after the worst offenders first."
So if Arpaio is not focused on the "right priorities," why did Morton give Arpaio's vast incarceration complex a de facto federal seal of approval? If partnering with Arpaio in the street offends Morton's sensibilities, what makes him think this partnership will be any more palatable behind cage doors, where Arpaio's goons can act indiscriminately, hidden from the prying eyes of activists and lawyers?
As if Morton's flaming hypocrisy wasn't bad enough, ICE facilitated Arpaio's sweep this week in Surprise. Sure, the 200 deputies and posse members who descended on that area like a pack of jackals didn't formally wield 287(g) authority, but as Arpaio pointed out time and time again, he didn't need it. All his beige-shirts needed to do was hit the speed dial for ICE's LEAR, short for Law Enforcement Agency Response, and ICE's dreaded Office of Detention and Removal rolled out and picked up the warm bodies, no questions asked.
During the entire two-day operation, in which 66 people reportedly were arrested, 19 "non-criminal aliens" — people who have committed no crimes other than (allegedly) the civil violation of being present sans papers — were turned over to ICE.
In the past, ICE had refused such low-hanging fruit from Arpaio. See, ICE's PR machine would have us believe that ICE no longer targets all aliens, but instead targets "the worst offenders first," as Morton suggested in the Sanchez interview.
Technically, ICE can claim to be doing this through the 287(g) program, but ICE's LEAR program is not beholden to such niceties. That's the obscene reality dogging Morton's statements. Any police or sheriff's department can call LEAR on anyone they suspect of being undocumented, and LEAR will show up to cart away the human quarry.
This is exactly what happened when Arpaio's big, bad thugs raided Glendale's On Your Way Car Wash and Quick Lube in order to collar illegal auto-scrubbers. You know, men and women who bust tails to keep their kids fed — and who are about as far as you can imagine from being violent criminals.
The TV footage shows a white ICE van pulling up and taking away seven handcuffed souls, each one of them representing a family cruelly crushed by the loss of a breadwinner. One of the women was openly weeping as a female ICE officer led her into the van.