Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio Whines About Three Illegals Released on Orders of ICE (Or Were They?)

courtesy of Dennis Gilman
Why does this man still have federal power? Ask Janet Napolitano...

Is ICE finally yanking on Sheriff Joe Arpaio's leash? And is it too gentle of a tug to stop the sweeps? Check out the press release below sent out by Arpaio announcing a 4 p.m. press conference today so the sheriff can kvetch about how ICE allegedly ordered three suspected illegal immigrants freed, after it was determined that they had committed no state crime. This supposedly occurred as part of Arpaio's ongoing, three day racial profiling dragnet in the southeast Valley.

This would be in keeping with novel requirements laid out by the new, standardized 287(g) Memorandum of Agreement, which allows local cops to enforce federal immigration law. Arpaio is still operating under his old MOA, which he signed in 2007. The new regulations target "criminal aliens," and prioritize them according to the seriousness of the crime. If strictly enforced, this and other restrictions could put a crimp in how Arpaio does business, pulling over Hispanics for minor traffic violations so as to inquire about their residency status.

However, the Department of Homeland Security, of which ICE is a part, is denying they gave instructions to release the three.

"The determination to release these individuals lies solely within the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office," stated Matt Chandler, a DHS spokesman in Washington, D.C. "ICE officials gave permission to the MCSO 287(g) officer to question the individuals and had no other engagement."

Perhaps Arpaio's trying to kick up a controversy, to push DHS and ICE to see if they push back. Or maybe DHS wants to distance itself from what might look like a controversial decision.

In any case, there's a larger point at stake than these three men cut loose. Although Arpaio's whining about ICE's actions here, stating that DHS had "assured me the old policy that my deputies and I have operated under would remain in effect for the next 90 days," he should, by all rights, no longer have a 287(g) agreement of any kind. Arpaio's gendarmes have consistently and flagrantly violated the civil rights of Hispanics during these unconstitutional sweeps.

If Napolitano had any intestinal fortitude, and if she were opposed to racial profiling, as President Obama says he is, she would suspend Arpaio's 287(g) agreement immediately. What is she afraid of? Does Arpaio have something on her that compromises her position? After all, for many years in Arizona, the two have been allies. Napolitano, a Democrat, even refused to endorse fellow Dem Dan Saban in his near-miss of a run against Arpaio in 2008. (Saban got 42 percent of the vote without Napolitano's help, even though he was heavily underfunded and faced a mud-slinging rival.)

In for a penny, in for a pound. If DHS is serious about saving the 287(g) program and reining in Arpaio, the first step should be stripping the sheriff of federal power so he can never abuse it again.

Here follows Arpaio's press release. I'd love to go to the presser and lob some tough Qs at him, but the MCSO and Arpaio are so afraid of New Times that they block us from all press conferences on county property. How they can do this, I don't know, but they do have the guns.



Phoenix:  Sheriff Joe Arpaio was shocked and unpleasantly surprised by the ICE-ordered release of three detainees from his latest suppression sweep.  The crime suppression operation started yesterday, July 23rd, and was aimed at the southeast valley communities of Chandler, Queen Creek, Mesa and areas of Phoenix.  Of 48 arrests, twelve were determined to be illegally in the United States.  The three released illegals benefited from new directives by the Department of Homeland Security which were not slated to be effective for approximately 90 days.

"The Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security in Washington, D. C. assured me the old policy that my deputies and I have operated under would remain in effect for the next 90 days" said Arpaio.  "I am stunned that this reversal came about so soon after I was promised the old policy would remain in effect for the immediate future."

The illegal aliens released by ICE did not have independent state crime charges pending, but were admittedly here illegally.  Prior to the "new ICE policy" they would have been booked, processed and deported as illegal aliens.  The change in ICE policy was accelerated, the Sheriff believes, by directives from Washington, D. C.

Arpaio's latest crime suppression operation continues tonight with almost 200 deputies and Posse members descending on the same Southeast valley communities at 4 PM.  The Sheriff will also be addressing the media regarding the sudden about-face in ICE policy and procedure at that time, in the Sheriff's Office District 1 Substation, 1840 South Lewis Drive, in Mesa, Arizona.

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