This ornery oriole's given up on expecting candor from the new head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Arizona office, Matthew Allen.
Back in April, hard on the heels of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Hispanic-hunting sweeps in Phoenix and Guadalupe, Allen (who'd just inherited the job from departing AZ ICE honcho Alonzo Pena) tut-tutted allegations that the Sheriff's Office was in violation of its 287(g) agreement with ICE. You know, the contract that gives Arpaio 160 cross-trained officers empowered to enforce federal immigration law.
"[The sheriff] has stayed within the bounds of the agreement," chirped Allen to journos back then.
This, despite Arizona's already looking like Alabama in the '50s, with skin color used as the "probable cause" for pulling over drivers. The cover for this was provided by the pursuit of traffic offenses, such as cracked windshields and broken tail lights. Of course, ofays need not worry about such trifles during a Sheriff's Office sweep.
Rather, it's the brown folk Joe's goons have been after, because in the MCSO's eyes, everyone out there with a too-dark tan is illegal 'til proven otherwise, even though racial profiling is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution and by the dictates of the very Memorandum of Agreement ICE has with the MCSO.
This year alone, Joe's extra-constitutional activities have been the subject of exposés in the East Valley Tribune, New Times, and even our gun-shy paper of record, the Arizona Republic.
Mayor Phil Gordon, the Arizona Anti-Defamation League, the Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus, and others have written U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey requesting that the MCSO be investigated for racial profiling over claims that the Sheriff's Office has misused its 287(g) authority. Gordon's actually written Mukasey twice on the subject, offering detailed accounts of Arpaio's abuses. The FBI is probing these allegations.
If that isn't enough, both MALDEF (the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund), and the Arizona branch of the ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit in July against Arpaio, the MCSO, and Maricopa County, alleging violations of the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions, and Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The lawsuit specifically cites MCSO's agreement with ICE.
Yet, when ICE honcho Allen made an appearance on KAET's Latino-issues program Horizonte recently for a one-on-one with host Jose Cardenas, he feigned disbelief that any complaints about Joe had been lodged.
"So far, we have not been able to identify any allegations against Maricopa County," said Allen with a straight face. When Cardenas mentioned the ACLU lawsuit, Mayor Phil's letters, etc., Allen replied, "As far as I understand, none of those allegations focus on ICE's authority."
Allen blathered on like the baron of bureaucratic bull that he is, saying when sheriff's deputies pull over some Hispanic dude for, say, failure to signal or whatever, they're operating under state law. These 287(g)-men begin enforcing federal immigration law only after the stop has been made, he told Cardenas.
"Our vision for the 287(g) authority kicks in after a cross-designated officer has exhausted all [his] resources under state law," said Allen.
In reality, all the 287(g) officer has to do is come up with a flimsy excuse to pull over people of Latino descent and then question them about their nationality. Yet, the ICE-MCSO Memorandum of Agreement makes it clear that:
"Participating [law enforcement personnel] who perform certain federal immigration enforcement functions are bound by all federal civil rights statutes and regulations."
These include U.S. Department of Justice guidelines, which repeatedly proscribe the use of race in broadly identifying suspects. The guidelines refer to racial profiling as "not merely wrong, but ineffective."
The ICE-MCSO pact targets dangerous criminal enterprises like drug trafficking and gangs. Nowhere does it mention landscapers whose headlights are out or maids whose car windows are tinted too darkly. Until recently, ICE had a page of frequently asked questions on its Web site, which stipulated that 287(g) officers can use their authority only "when dealing with someone suspected of a state crime that is more than a traffic offense."
Asked about this statement by Cardenas, Allen claimed Arpaio wasn't doing anything like that, when it's clear to anyone with working pupils that Arpaio's twisting ICE's rules into pretzel knots.
The MCSO didn't pull any "crime suppression sweeps" before the ICE-MCSO agreement was signed. If Arpaio didn't have that ICE memorandum in his shirt pocket, the anti-brown dragnets never would have taken place.
Truth be told, Allen's looking the other way, while Arpaio and other agencies supply ICE with the body count required to justify ICE's existence. As long as ICE can say it's removing an increasing number of aliens, Congress will keep giving it more loot. Or so goes the logic.
Throughout his Horizonte interview, Allen asserted no one had made allegations about Arpaio's using traffic stops as an excuse to enforce immigration law, as if he'd had his head up his backside (or Arpaio's) since he took over as Sand Land's immigration czar. Neither ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility nor the U.S. Attorney for Arizona had received such complaints, he repeated.
But even by Allen's own very narrow definition of what agency should have received formal complaints, he's as wrong as white shoes after Labor Day. Both the mayor's letters, the letter of the Latino Caucus, and that of the ADL were addressed to Attorney General Mukasey. Mukasey heads the U.S. Department of Justice, for which Diane Humetewa, the U.S. Attorney for Arizona, works.
This plumed penman also knows that the letters of the mayor to Mukasey and that of the Latino Caucus, were each cc'd to U.S. Attorney Humetewa, contrary to Allen's statements on Horizonte.
Allen also stated that a "review" of the MCSO-ICE agreement was complete, but he did not know when it would be released. Considering Allen's obliviousness to the MCSO's violations of the law, The Bird wonders why ICE even bothered.
Bottom line, if the MCSO is in violation of federal law and the U.S. Constitution, then Allen and ICE are aiding and abetting. Allen is an accessory to Arpaio's unconstitutional shenanigans. All so ICE can collar otherwise law-abiding residents, who are, at best, guilty of the civil offense of being present in the U.S. without papers.
As this column goes to press before election results start coming in, The Bird's still holding onto a thin strand of hope that Democrat Dan Saban will become Maricopa County's newly elected sheriff. If the good Lord has seen fit to bless us in this manner, then feel free to skip over this item.
That's 'cause this segment has to do with the outrageous revelation, first outed by The Bird's blogging blood brother, Feathered Bastard, that former U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini, an Arizona Democrat and Barack Obama supporter, had endorsed Joe Arpaio in robo-calls and in a letter to Republicans and Independents.
Why did the three-term senator, who was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention this year for Obama, turn coat in an election many in Maricopa County saw as more important even than the race for prez (especially as it influences us all more directly)?
"I've known him for 25 years," DeConcini, 71, explained via phone from La Jolla, California, where he has a home (he has another in Tucson). "I worked with him for years on drug enforcement . . . So I've known him for a long time, and, you know, he's a friend and a very professional cop."
"Professional cop"?! Has the D-man been smoking the wacky weed over there in Cali? Or has he finally succumbed to hardening of the arteries?
Sure, DeCon's one of the original DiNOs (Democrats in Name Only). His recent political memoir was titled Senator Dennis DeConcini: From the Center of the Aisle. In it, he revealed that he voted for Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter back in 1980.
But when pressed on his support of our corrupt top constable, DeConcini was forced to concede that he knew nada of Joe past Arpaio's days as a DEA agent or the first few years of his sheriff-dom. For instance, DeConcini was ignorant of the recent Robert Cotton snuff film that was executive-produced by the MCSO, and broadcast by local and national outlets. (Cotton was beaten to death by a member of the Aryan Brotherhood in the Fourth Avenue Jail while jail guards were nowhere to be seen for 19 minutes.)
Nor was DeConcini aware of the $43 million in lawsuit payouts because of the inadequacy of Joe's jails. He didn't know federal Judge Neil Wake had recently ruled against the MCSO, ordering it to comply with constitutional standards for inmates. And he was in the dark concerning the national healthcare accreditation that recently had been ripped from Joe's gulags.
DeCon seemed concerned about these revelations but remained supportive of his old pal.
"My knowledge is based on what I know and the experience of Joe Arpaio," stated DeCon. "Not anything current or any of his present policies."
Actually, this avian thinks DeConcini's support of Arpaio may have more to do with the D-man's hatred of John McCain, who back in the '80s shared ignominy with the Democrat as a member of the Keating Five. Both DeCon and McCain had taken money from S&L kingpin Charles Keating. But even though McCain had taken more and was closer to Keating in many respects, he tried to turn the blame on Dennis and the other Dems, McCain being the only GOP-er in the bunch. That's the way DeConcini recalled it in his memoir.
Arpaio also has a longstanding feud with McCain, as McCain endorsed Dan Saban back in 2004 when Saban was running against Joe in the Republican primary. (Saban switched to the Dems to run against Joe this year in the general election.)
This enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend approach to politics may be fine for a rich-ass former U.S. senator with homes in LaJolla and Tucson. But for those of us not so insulated from the scary realities of living under Joe's increasingly tyrannical thumb, the stakes are much higher.
DeCon did have a consolation prize for his fellow Sand Land Dems, his county attorney pick.
"I'm supporting Ben [sic] Nelson," said DeConcini, flubbing county attorney hopeful Tim Nelson's first name. "Matter of fact, Nelson called me and asked me if I'd endorse him in a letter to the same people [as the Arpaio letter]. I said sure."
Gee, thanks, Senator! But do all of us here in the big city a favor: Try reading our local papers occasionally, and get some counseling for your McCain fixation. Either that or keep your trap shut next time you want to verbally fellate Nickel Bag Joe.
HOUSE OF HORRORS
Sniff. This truculent tweeter has to admit he's gonna miss ol' Joe, whether he croaks of natural causes in office, is indicted for his misdeeds and resigns in disgrace, or is finally voted (one day) out of office.
Not since Tricky Dick Nixon have people (at least locally) had so much fun lampooning a political figure. Take the recent Halloween/Day of the Dead Bash held over at the PUEBLO Center for Legal and Human Rights (www.puebloaz.org). PUEBLO is the org that was responsible for the infamous Cinco de Mayo Arpaio-piñata bash, where folks whacked candy-filled effigies of our loony lawman.
PUEBLO's par-tay was a doggone hoot. It featured a jail-themed haunted house with green bologna sandwiches raining from the ceiling, a sheriff's deputy checking your papers, a pregnant mom who lost her baby because of inadequate medical care, and a child weeping for her deported parents.
You know, just like real life.
Attendees to the costume party portion of the event came dressed as versions of Joe, Joe supporters, or anything in keeping with the theme. Activist Chris Fleischman came as "Chicken Joe," in a yellow chicken outfit with an Arpaio head — because Arpaio famously wimped out of debating Dan Saban. Margarito Blancas showed up as "Arpayaso," a play on the Spanish word payaso, meaning "clown." In other words, he had his Bozo suit on.
Pro-immigrant demonstrator Jason Odhner was done up as Arpaio supporter and alleged public urinator Buffalo Rick Galeener, complete with a bottle of pee and a patch on his jacket which read, "Riders Against Brown Folks." (Galeener's a member of United for a Sovereign America and the anti-brown bike club Riders U.S.A.) And guitar-strumming activist John Norris came as Arpaio the horse's ass, with papier-mâché hindquarters covering his face.
Just imagine there's no Joe in power to make fun of and rail against. Sure, this country would be a better, more humane place, but would we have half as much fun lambasting a Sheriff Saban? Nah, he'd be too much of a Dudley Do-Right.
Why, without Joe in office, we all might as well live in some civilized place by comparison, like Los Angeles, Chicago, or Caracas, Venezuela.
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