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Immigration Holds Mostly for Minor Offenses, Sheriff's Data Shows; Office Thwarted New Times' Attempts to Get Same Data

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The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office released records last week showing what New Times readers already knew:

Most jailed inmates kicked out of the country under the county's 287(g) agreement with the feds were picked up by local police forces for relatively minor crimes. Our September 30, 2008 article, linked above, detailed why this is happening and passed on plenty of stats from various law enforcement agencies as factual evidence.

One group of stats we didn't get, though: The kind of stats just released by the county, which the Arizona Republic used as fodder today for a front-page article.

Not that we didn't ask for them -- as part of the research for "Police State," we asked Sheriff's Joe Arpaio's office for exactly those inmates stats, (though from earlier, random dates).

Paul Chagolla, (pictured above), now a deputy chief with the office, refused to release the data, telling New Times that satisfying the request would violate federal law. Did something change, or was Chagolla lying?

Chagolla, who left the sheriff's public relations office on a bad note, is now the records division chief. [P.M. Correction to this A.M. blog post: That's criminal records, not public records, which dulls our point here but does not totally blunt it]. Oy. With him in charge, we don't have to wonder why Arpaio's office has failed to release a completed report we requested last August, or why he reportedly gave false information last week to the state Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on fugitive warrants.

As to the stats themselves:

We didn't notice any "passenger failed to show ID" arrests, which could be considered the most minor of crimes -- especially when those arrests are based on bogus underlying violations. There were a few "driver failed to show ID" arrests. And there was one arrest -- and subsequent voluntary deportation, no doubt -- for fishing without a license.

The alleged crimes committed (sample below) by the illegal immigrants booked into jail, however, are not mostly victimless. Advocates for undocumented workers who commit crimes have a tall hurdle to clear in explaining why society would benefit more from the old "catch-and-release" method.




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