Have the extremists won the the day? Almost. Only a blue-ribbon panel stands between them and total victory in this city.
During his campaign for reelection, Mayor Phil Gordon correctly asserted that Phoenix is not a "sanctuary city," despite claims that PHX Police Operations Order 1.4.3 makes it so. That's the cop policy that details how and when Immigration and Customs Enforcement is notified about a suspected illegal alien.
The sanctuary city label was one applied by his only official opponent, Steve Lory, and it was applied incorrectly. Personally, I'd love it if Phoenix offered "sanctuary" to the undocumented. But this is not the case. Operations Order 1.4.3 simply keeps beat cops from turning every brown person they stop for a minor infraction over to ICE. Moreover, ICE officers are embedded with the Phoenix Police, and the PHX PD has reportedly turned over more than 6,000 suspected illegals to ICE in the past year.
Finally, because of Prop 100, suspected illegals who are accused of committing a Class 4 felony or above are identified to the county's jailer, Sheriff Joe. The Sheriff's office has deputies cross-trained as ICE agents, so someone arrested for suspected forgery, which is a Class 4 felony, can be on a bus to Nogales in no time, especially if they agree to voluntary repatriation. This happened in the case of 18-year-old North High honors student Virginia Gutierrez, who was suspected of having a forged Mexican I.D., and is now in Mexico.
What's changed from a few months ago when Goober Gordon was running for reelection? The violent rhetoric of extremist nativists has combined with the incessant howls of wing-nut lip-flappers such as KTAR's Darrell Ankarlo to achieve full crescendo. Goober himself noted this rhetoric in his statement to the press yesterday announcing a blue-ribbon panel to rewrite the operations order in question.
"Rhetoric is replacing reason," he said. "There's too much hate. It's ugly, it's dangerous, and good people continue to suffer."
I agree. So the answer is to give in to the racist rhetoric and get the ethnic cleansing moving in full force?
The only hope I have is that the panel reassessing the policy has some good men on it, notably former AZ Attorney General Grant Woods, former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton, and former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley. These are all moderate guys, and hopefully they'll give the mayor some cover in not turning Phoenix into a reactionary, racial-profiling metropolis where everyone who's brown has to fear for being arrested.
Wait a sec, isn't that already the case? Yeah, but with the old Operations Order on the way out, it could mean a return to the days of "Operation Wetback," the Eisenhower-era program that rounded up anyone "Mexican-looking" in a dragnet. That, of course, would suit the racists just fine.
BTW, this does not leave Phil off the hook for the escalating situation at Pruitt's Furniture, which will likely get worse and closer to violence with the announcement of this panel.