Let's be honest, there are a lot of nativists out there who are caressing their hands at the prospect that an Arizona cop might soon be killed by an illegal alien.
What better way to attack both the U.S. Supreme Court's recent 5-3 decision tossing three sections of Senate Bill 1070, and the Obama administration's PR move, cutting 287(g) agreements in Arizona that were destined to be phased out anyway?
There is no statistical link between undocumented immigrants and crime, save for the bogus ones promulgated by the Mexican-haters. Anecdotal evidence is as close as they come. Which is why they would love to have a cop corpse to stand on as they wave their "Don't Tread on Me" flags.
The haters will seize upon anything they can to further their nefarious ends. That's not surprising.
But Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery's leading the way in exploiting one recent incident? A tad disappointing, considering the circumstances.
I'm talking about Montgomery's press release today blasting the Obama administration after the revelation that Jose Manuel Cuevas, a man shot by a Phoenix police officer following a struggle on Tuesday, is an illegal immigrant who (apparently) has been booted from the country more than once.
Cuevas' immigration status was not announced immediately following the incident, which involved Cuevas allegedly hitting a Phoenix police sergeant in the head several times after the sergeant pulled up next to him in an unmarked car.
According to a Phoenix police spokesman, the unnamed sergeant shot Cuevas, 26, in the chest in self-defense. Cuevas is currently at Good Samaritan Hospital until he's well enough to be booked.
Today, Montgomery's office issued a press release, revealing that Cuevas, "had been deported numerous times, including a court ordered 10-year bar to reentry and a previous felony conviction for assault."
Montgomery then went on to blame the federal government for the incident with the following statement:
"In a week in which the United States Supreme Court underscored the responsibility of the federal government to carry out immigration law and at a time when the current federal administration would tell us that 'the border is more secure than ever,' this incident reminds us that the federal government has failed us. I warned the current federal administration that failure to cooperate with local law enforcement may result in a situation where the blood of a victim would be on their hands should anyone unlawfully present in the United States hurt or kill someone.
"This assault on a police officer by someone whom the federal government failed to properly preclude from reentry is the first incident following the administration's childish cessation of 287(g) programs in reaction to the Supreme Court's ruling. It will not be the last, and if responsible steps are not taken to establish operational control of the border and uphold our immigration laws, I fear that the next incident may involve the loss of life."
Thing is, if the information we have about Cuevas is correct, then the federal government in this instance did what it was supposed to do: remove, repeatedly, a criminal alien who was in the country illegally.
Following Monty's press release, the Phoenix Police Department issued a statement on Cuevas' immigration status, without the finger-pointing.
"The suspect has a criminal record in Phoenix dating back to 1989 with numerous alcohol related arrest[s]," the statement reads, in part. "Our records show a 2011 conviction for a Extreme DUI and an Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer (a Phoenix Police Officer) in 2011."
Barring the erection of a 2,000-mile electric border fence and an equal-sized moat filled with piranha right next to it, keeping certain people out of the country will be no more possible than stopping habitual criminals from returning to a life of crime after they've done their time.
As for the 287(g) agreements suspended this week, they would not have prevented what happened Tuesday. Indeed, the sergeant himself could have been a cross-trained 287(g) officer capable of enforcing federal immigration law, and the same exact thing would have occurred.
So I find Montgomery's lecture disingenuous. See, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement maintains a program called Secure Communities in all 15 of Arizona's counties, including Maricopa County.
S-Comm uses biometrics to identify illegal aliens who end up in local incarceration facilities.
And even though ICE jerked Arpaio's 287(g) agreement a while back, ICE keeps some 50 agents assigned to the Maricopa County jail system.
Moreover, not all 287(g) agreements in Arizona have been pulled. According to ICE, eight jail agreements remain in effect, with four being actively utilized. These four are with the Arizona Department of Corrections, the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, the City of Mesa Police Department, and the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.
Only the 287(g) "street" agreements in Arizona -- i.e., those applicable to 287(g) officers in the field -- have been curtailed.
Also, there are no fewer ICE officers or Border Patrol agents in this state.
So why would the "blood of a victim" be on the hands of the "current federal administration"?
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Montgomery is Maricopa County's top prosecutor. Why wouldn't he be responsible for not putting a dangerous criminal away before that criminal kills or maims someone?
Although it's de rigueur for Sand Land politicians to fan the flames of nativism, Montgomery doesn't need to follow suit. He faces no primary opponents in his run this year for county attorney, and his only general election competition is Libertarian candidate Michael Kielsky.
Sure, in 2010, when he was locked in mortal combat with fellow Republican and then acting County Attorney Rick Romley, his pandering to the GOP's nativist base was understandable, if repugnant.
There's only one reason I can think he's grandstanding on the issue in this election year: Old habits are hard to break.