Feathered Bastard

New York Times Blasts Joe Arpaio, Urges Obama Administration to End 287(g)

Say what you will about our Yankee brethren, the editorial writers at the New York Times have consistently seen the immigration situation in Maricopa County through an unfiltered lens.

This is because the Times' unsigned, editorial writer of all opinion pieces having to do with immigration and Arizona has visited our state and the front lines of the immigration debate. He's spent time with Arpaio and perceives him as the scalawag that he is. This scribbler may be penning his polemics in some aerie-cubicle high above Manhattan, but it is with a knowledge born of being here and regularly speaking to those committed to this fight, pro and con.

Local civil rights activists should be grateful that their cries for justice are taken seriously beyond the confines of Sand Land. The New York Times has heard them and responds, as it has in a new editorial blasting Sheriff Joe Arpaio, demanding that all Arpaio's 287(g) power be severed, and that the 287(g) program come to an end nationwide.

In a just published editorial titled, "Wrong Paths to Immigration Reform," the Times argues first in the specific that our corrupt top constable should rightfully be denied all federal authority to pursue illegal immigrants.

"Sheriff Arpaio has a long, ugly record of abusing and humiliating inmates," reads the opinion piece. "His scandal-ridden desert jails have lost accreditation and are notorious places of cruelty and injury. His indiscriminate neighborhood raids use minor infractions like broken taillights as pretexts for mass immigration arrests."

Then, like all good editorialists, this one broadens his argument from the specific to the general topic of why 287(g) should be scuttled altogether:

"Rather than broadening the reach of law enforcement, using local police can cause immigrant crime victims to fear the police and divert the police from fighting crime. It leads to racial profiling, to Latino citizens and legal residents being asked for their papers. Responsible sheriffs and police chiefs across the country have looked at 287(g) and said no thanks."

The anonymous scribe concludes with a verbal hand grenade of sorts for the Obama-ites, liberal though they claim themselves to be:

"Programs like 287(g) rest on the dishonest premise that illegal immigrants are a vast criminal threat. But only a small percentage are dangerous felons. The vast majority are those whom President Obama has vowed to help get right with the law, by paying fines and earning citizenship. Treating the majority of illegal immigrants as potential Americans, not a criminal horde, is the right response to the problem." (Italics mine.)

The editorial's lobbed right at the gaggle of wonks in the Obama White House and at DHS who'll be calling the shot on Arpaio's 287(g) jails agreement, which still lacks ICE head John Morton's signature. For that crowd, Arpaio's a card to be played. And as the Times' opinion piece suggests, it's a losing card for the administration with its liberal and Latino supporters. Consensus has been building on the left that 287(g) needs to go, Arpaio being the perfect example of why.

If Obama & Co. decide to keep on a bad actor such as Arpaio in their camp, they will alienate many on the left who normally wish them success. Arpaio is a lead weight dragging the administration down. If they cut him loose completely, he ceases to be an issue in the 287(g) wars. Keep him, and by doing so DHS honcho Janet Napolitano will give the left a cudgel with which to incessantly beat the administration to a pulp.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons