The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau isn't ready to comment this morning on the impact of severing ties with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
Which is a shame, because we have some good questions for them. Like, why was ICE supervising operations (see the last couple of pages of its agreement with MCSO) up until yesterday in what the Justice Department yesterday called a "culture of bias." Weren't they part of the culture?
Were the supervisors clueless to what the DOJ called the worst organization for racial profiling in US history? Or did 287(g) supervisors act as secret spies, collecting data on discriminatory policies and reporting it to their own ICE superiors, but not speaking up publicly about them?
ICE has a 287(g) "success stories" page that lists several "successes" of the Maricopa jail program. In other words, ICE is still bragging about the Maricopa program it just canceled.
The impact of severing ties with MCSO will present logistical challenges for ICE. A letter to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery by ICE boss John Morton says agents will be brought into the state to help with "existing immigration enforcement priorities," but doesn't detail how it will take up the slack in county jails. Will the gang members and repeat offenders listed in the "success stories" still be dealt with properly, or released to the streets, as Sheriff Joe Arpaio warned yesterday?
Morton's letter says ICE will no longer respond to MCSO calls on traffic stops and other minor offenses. That seems to mean the sheriff's immigration sweeps and human smuggling enforcement until won't be able to function at all. Without access to federal computers, the sheriff's office will, in many cases, be unable to identify whether they've caught an illegal immigrant or someone who has the legal right to be in the country.
Calls to the sheriff's office this morning weren't returned.
Montgomery has a news conference scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to talk about this issue. We'll let you know what he says.
Below: A flow chart one ICE 287(g) jail procedures from the Migration Policy Institute: