Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio Defends Separating Parents from Children in Worksite Raids

Videographer Dennis Gilman covered Sheriff Joe Arpaio's recent worksite raid at the Phoenix company Great Western Erectors, and challenged Joe on separating mothers and fathers from their children during these immigration-enforcement stunts of his.

Arpaio tries to slough it off, claiming he's just enforcing the law and that you could say the same for all of the prisoners in his jails. But Gilman stays on him, pointing out that the seven people arrested for "forgery" really weren't stealing anything. In fact, they were using their fake ID's to work, and paid payroll taxes in the process.

The sheriff says it's a class four felony, whether you're using the fake ID to steal someone's credit or score a job. 

(Actually, Arizona's forgery statute says the offender has to have the "intent to defraud." How you'd be defrauding anyone by working and paying taxes that you'll likely never get back is a conundrum.)

What Arpaio doesn't tell you is that for someone suspected of being in the country illegally, a class four felony or above means they can be held without bond in the state of Arizona

And if the Maricopa County Attorney doesn't have enough evidence to take the case to trial? By that time, there's likely already a hold on the person from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has cross-trained MCSO/287(g) officers in the jails for just this purpose.

So despite the fact that ICE has jerked Arpaio's 287(g) agreement for field enforcement, and the fact that the U.S. Department of Justice is currently investigating the sheriff's office for civil rights abuses, ICE continues to benefit from its partnership with Arpaio in the county jails. Every time Arpaio does a raid like this, ICE scores a few more warm bodies. And its statistics on aliens removed from the country go up.

Ironically, ICE has mostly discontinued worksite raids like these, opting for what they call "desktop raids," where an employer is audited for the hiring of illegal aliens. Those on an employer's rolls get the boot, and the employer avoids being raided.

In general, though, Arpaio's raids are a colossal waste of time that net very few people and do not make the community any safer. As Gilman illustrates, Joe simply succeeds in separating families. Since they're the families of the undocumented, I'm sure that warms the hearts of nativists everywhere. But as far as law enforcement goes, it's a joke.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons