According to the MCSO's own documents, Israel Correa should never have been arrested, much less the subject of an immigration hold.
Why did the Sheriff's department place an ICE hold against Israel Correa, an American citizen with a valid driver's license and Social Security number, and not notify ICE?
Let's see, could it have been because his skin was brown?
Correa, a one-time candidate for Maryvale JP, was arrested January 18 as part of Sheriff Joe's posse-enhanced anti-illegal crime sweep, one I discussed both in this week's Bird column, and in the blog post, "Sheriff Arpaio unleashes posse on illegals; Depends stock skyrockets."
Correa was stopped for driving without his headlights on, and later arrested for failure to show his driver's license. Judging from the MCSO incident report, this looks like a bogus collar. The report concedes Correa did produce his valid Arizona driver's license for the arresting deputy. And this same license was returned to Correa when he was released from MCSO custody.
Interestingly, Correa was not cited for not having his headlights on, but rather for failure to provide I.D., not having insurance, and not having his registration in the vehicle. Correa’s insurance is with State Farm. He’s got the docs to prove it. As for the registration, the MCSO checked that through his vehicle license plate number, which they found to be under the name of a woman “with the same address as the defendant.”
After his release January 19, Correa told Channel 12 that an INS hold had been placed against him and his release delayed for several hours. I wanted to mention this in my column this week, so I called Vinnie Picard, the PIO for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to verify that such a hold was placed. Arpaio has officers cross-trained as ICE agents, and they can place an immigration hold. But that authority comes from ICE, and ICE should know about it.
Picard told me there was no evidence of such a hold being placed against Correa, and assured me that placing an ICE hold against someone was a serious matter and that ICE would know about it if one of the cross-trained MCSO deputies had done it. So I left the part about the hold out of my column.
Thursday, I made contact with Correa, who showed me his MCSO booking detail report, which has a section called "Holds." Under this, clearly marked, is "MCSO Ice Hold." (You can look for yourself, here.)
So I called Vinnie Picard back, and Picard checked with MCSO. MCSO's line to Picard was that MCSO had not really placed an ICE hold against Correa; this "MCSO ICE Hold" was just an internal "flag," which indicated that Correa needed to be questioned by one of their 287g officers (287g refers to the ICE program that trains local cops in immigration enforcement). When a 287g cross-trained deputy examined Correa, it was immediately determined that Correa was not an illegal alien, and the hold was released. ICE was never informed, MCSO told Picard, because it wasn't a "real" ICE hold.
Confused? You should be. Correa claims he did tell officers at the 4th Avenue Jail that he was an American citizen. MCSO deputies later informed him a hold had been placed against him. And as stated, the computer printout of his booking report reads "MCSO ICE hold." So if it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, etc.
"No wonder he thought he was being held and examined by ICE," Picard observed. "Every indication that he had, from the paperwork, and what he was or was not told, indicated that. That's why I was confused, because we had no record of that."
Picard insists Correa was never under Federal suspicion of being in the country illegally, no matter what MCSO's docs indicate.
Why did the MCSO "flag" Correa as an "MCSO ICE Hold"? The MCSO told Picard that Correa was not responding to questions while being booked, and that's why he was flagged. Correa tells another story of being booked in by some lady MCSO at 4th Avenue.
"The lady was screaming at me," alleged Correa. "I told her, `Ma'am, you don't need to be in my face, plus your breath stinks!' She said, `You're not from here. This is a fake driver's license.' I said, `It's not fake, I want to speak to an attorney, I know my rights.' I told her, `I am a paralegal, I know the law too.'"
Correa said he informed MCSO deputies that he was an American citizen, born in Maricopa County, but that they did not believe him because of his accent. In any case, he cooled his heels in stir till morning, when he was informed that he would not yet be released.
"They told me I had an ICE hold," said Correa. "I said, `But I told you I was a U.S. Citizen!' They said, "Yeah, yeah, come on.' Then they put me with all the immigrants. I was in there for like six more hours. I continued calling my family, and they kept calling the jail."
Correa was freed at 11 a.m., according to the booking report. His wallet with $2,000 cash in it, his 9mm (of which the arresting deputy stated in the incident report, “No criminal record was found on the handgun”), and the pullover he was wearing is still being held by MCSO, he informed me.*** Correa got his car out of impound. It cost him $256, he said.
Correa told me that since the arrest, he's seen MCSO vehicles cruising the street where he lives, that they've flashed his house with lights, and that there was one guy in plainclothes standing outside his home taking photos one afternoon. He fears that Arpaio's goons will try something "tricky." Seems like a valid fear to me.
So this we know: Arpaio's deputies arrested Correa for not providing a driver's license, even though in the incident report, the MCSO says he did eventually provide one. MCSO placed what it calls an "MCSO ICE hold" against Correa, even though deputies had his valid Arizona driver's license, as well as his Social Security number, which appears on the incident report. And though the MCSO report refers to an "MCSO ICE hold," no one at MCSO informed ICE of this.
Now ask yourself, if Correa had been a white guy who spoke English without an accent, would he have been treated the same way by MCSO? A clearer case of racial profiling and Mickey Mouse police work you'll never find. Correa does strike me as an odd, nervous character. But that's no excuse for the MCSO's actions toward him, or their tawdry use of immigration law to mess with someone they thought was giving them some lip.
Bottom line? Yet another example of vindictive, shoddy, racist, and possibly illegal conduct by the MCSO.
Correa told me that he’s already lawyered up, with local legal beagle Steve Montoya. Will this eventually mean another payout from the county because of the MCSO’s keystone kops-like bumbling?
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My fellow taxpayers, I think you know the answer.
Please note the following passage from the MCSO incident report:
"Israel was transported to a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office mobile substation located near Thomas Rd & 32nd St. During this time, Israel was searched for initial booking process and his personal items were placed in a property bag. Israel [sic] behavior and dimenor [sic] continued and [he] was demanding to know where his wallet was. He stated he carried $2,000 dls in his wallet and wanted to know where his money was. During his search in the mobile substation, no wallet was located on his person."