| Arpaio |

ICE Dedicates 50 Officers to Maricopa Jails Following Canceled Agreement with Sheriff Arpaio; "No Gap" in Enforcement Expected

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Federal authorities promised today to take up the slack in Maricopa County jails following the severing of ties with the sheriff's office over allegations of widespread racial profiling.

In a letter today to Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, an official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security vowed to leave "no gap" in immigration enforcement.

Fifty agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau have now been assigned to "screen, identify, apprehend and remove criminal aliens found in the jails of Maricopa County," wrote Nelson Peacock, DHS assistant secretary for legislative affairs, in the letter.

Until last week, ICE had allowed Sheriff Arpaio's jail officers to screen inmates suspected of being illegal immigrants through a program known as 287(g), in which deputies were cross-trained as immigration officers and allowed to access federal databases. The feds had canceled the 287(g) privilege for Arpaio's street-level deputies in 2009 following complaints by the community, but had let the jail program continue and even bragged about its successes.

Peacock's letter, sent in response to a letter sent to DHS on Friday by Senator Kyl, notes that the systemic civil-rights violations in Arpaio's shop extended to the jail system, and ICE has "no interest in supporting" the pattern of racial discrimination.

Peacock says the newly reassigned federal officers:

...will perform the work previously conducted by 287(g) officers and will ensure that criminal aliens and other removable public safety threats are not released into the community. These federal officers will have full access to Secure Communities and will continue this work until such time as DOJ is satisfied that MCSO has remedied the unlawful practices outlined in the DOJ report. In short, there will be no gap in immigration enforcement in Maricopa County.

DHS sent New Times Peacock's letter this afternoon to answer some of the questions we asked. We're still wondering how and why ICE and DHS managed to let this problem fester for so long, and what the failure to stop the racial discrimination sooner says about the feds' ability to act as a replacement for Arpaio's team.

But the addition of 50 officers will be better than nothing. All Arpaio needs to rally his supporters -- and divert attention from his office's "culture of bias" -- is one illegal immigrant to commit a serious crime after being released from jail, or for ICE to deport a high-level felon before a trial.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.