Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio Promises Anti-Immigrant Sweep in Three Weeks, and Russell Pearce Struggles to Get His Police State Legislation Passed

Look out Latinos, whether or not you're a citizen, or otherwise here legally.

Sheriff Joe's announced that his next anti-immigrant dragnet will occur within the next three weeks, according to a just-posted AP report.

As everyone was reminded after Arpaio's recent raids on four area McDonald's, it's round up the brown folk first, ask questions later. That's what happened to Viridiana Ramirez, a worker at one of the McDonald's in question, who was arrested and held for four hours by the MCSO before being released, even though she's an American-born citizen.

What did Arpaio have to say about it afterward?

"That's just normal police work," he shrugged.

Normal police work if you happen to be a sheriff's deputy in Maricopa County, that is.

The timing is interesting, considering the fact that Arpaio's ally state Senator Russell Pearce is still trying to drive his police state bill SB 1070 through the legislature.

He's promising that the bill, which gives cops the authority to detain you if you can't prove your citizenship or legal residency, will come up on Tuesday's House floor during the Committee of the Whole.

"This is an important bill," writes Pearce in an e-mail alert sent out to followers. "I need calls and e-mails. I have a firm commitment from the Speaker to have the bill 3rd read next Tuesday. I need to make sure our Republicans stay firm for the rule of law."

Note that last line, "I need to make sure our Republicans stay firm for the rule of law."

That means Pearce is in trouble. In fact, if Pearce had the votes, it would have gone to a voice vote on COW this week, and on to a third read, where a roll call vote is taken.

From there, it has to go back to the Senate. If approved, it'll be transmitted to Governor Brewer. It's unlikely Brewer would veto it.

But Pearce is running into several problems. First, the libertarians hate it. And Pearce didn't help matters by claiming that a mass e-mail sent out by libertarian and Freedom's Phoenix Web site owner Ernie Hancock was "just short of a domestic terrorist act."

Hancock was so ticked, he had his lawyer write a letter to the state Senate ethics committee demanding Pearce be censured for the remark.

The lawyer for the ethics committee got back to Hancock's legal beagle this week, politely informing him that, basically, unless Pearce breaks the law, he doesn't meet the high bar of violating the Senate's lofty -- ahem -- ethics.

In other words, name-calling, fear-mongering and McCarthyism are A-OK.

Hancock, and writers at Freedom's Phoenix remain opposed to the bill because of a provision that allows for the sharing of an individual's information between local authorities and the feds -- in essence a gateway to Real I.D., and a national I.D. card.

Freedom's Phoenix columnist John Green alerted his readers today that,

"Despite several amendments and revisions, Russell Pearce has ignored the concerns of pro-liberty folks and conservatives regarding the national id provision in his bill. Arizona will have a national id on Friday, April 16th unless YOU take action NOW."

The libertarians have leverage on independent-minded Republicans, who may be all for immigration crackdowns, but who are leery of a national I.D. card and want nothing that greases the skids for it.

The business community's also been lobbying hard against the bill, particularly Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform, which has published an open letter urging against the Pearce legislation.

"While SB1070 purports to address the failure of government to enforce the rule of law and make us safer," reads the statement, "it does not. It makes us less safe, places a crippling unfunded mandate on our cities, towns and counties, damages our state's economy and codifies racial discrimination."

There are a number of Republicans against the Pearce bill, but they're deathly afraid of Pearce, chairman of the powerful Senate appropriations committee. They fear being harassed by Pearce's passel of on-call nativists, and they're petrified of having to deal with primary opponents backed by Pearce.

On the other hand, the business community, the libertarians, and the cities and towns, which  could be bankrupted by a provision of the bill that allows anyone to sue a police agency or other entity not enforcing federal immigration statutes to the fullest extent of the law, they're all pressuring the same fence-straddlers not to kowtow to Pearce. 

Pearce, for his part, is practically aiming to take the legislature hostage this Tuesday. In his e-mail alert, he writes that he'll be "holding a Press Conference at noon and an all afternoon hearing on border violence along with Ranchers and Farmers from the border and the cost of our open border to citizens."

For the record, the Arizona-Mexico border is not "open," unless you're willing to traverse miles of treacherous desert with the Border Patrol on your heels. Some are, to be sure, but calling that "open" is a joke.

Moreover, any rancher or farmer worth his or her salt should know after one look at this bill that it would have done nothing to save murdered rancher Robert Krentz, whose death Pearce is shamelessly exploiting.

The Arpaio sweep to take place within three weeks may have been coordinated to fall just after Pearce bill's becoming law. But there may be too much gumming up Pearce's proposed legislation, despite all of his bullying. His lackeys in the legislature are working overtime to placate the recalcitrant with amendments to SB 1070, careful not to water it down too much for their master's tastes.

Even this effort at amendments could derail Pearce when he has to take the bill back to the Senate and get a new version through. 

Pearce is desperate. Believing that Democrat Terry Goddard will become Governor with middling GOP opposition, and knowing Goddard would veto any such legislation, Pearce realizes this is his last chance with a compliant governor.

He will fight to the very end. Or at least until sine die.

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