Show them the door: Arpaio and 287(g)

By Terry Keleher Oct 12, 2009

In the wake of last week’s actions by the Department of Homeland Security to limit Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s ability to enforce federal immigration laws—and Arpaio’s open defiance–today’s New York Times raises the right questions in its editorial “Wrong Paths to Immigration Reform." link here “One is the specific question of whether the federal government should keep Sheriff Arpaio in its 287(g) program, which deputizes local law enforcement to act as immigration agents in street patrols and in jails. The answer is absolutely not. “…To the broader question of whether federal immigration enforcement should be outsourced en masse in the first place, the answer again is no.” Joe Arpaio’s abhorrent behavior—the sense of entitlement that it perfectly fine to abuse and humiliate whoever he and his deputies deem too foreign-looking for their liking—gives us repeated proof positive of this bad immigrant policy run amok. Yet, in his press conference last week, Arpaio said, "Those that have criminal offenses go directly to jail. Those without criminal charges will be turned over to ICE (Immigrant and Customs Enforcement). If ICE refuses to take them, then I’ll take a little trip to the border and then turn them over to the border." The New York Times editors correctly point out that, “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…Programs like 287(g) rest on the dishonest premise that illegal immigrants are a vast criminal threat.” Chicago-based organizer Rey López-Calderón, in his blog Cockroach People he aptly writes, “Sheriff Arpaio is Obama’s Geroge Wallace,” López-Calderón points out that the attitude and rhetoric demonstrated by Arpaio at his press conference last week is “eerily similar to that of Wallace, who famously said in his 1963 gubernatorial inauguration: “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.” He concludes, “If removing Arpaio’s 287(g) powers won’t stop him, then I dare say it’s time to federalize the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department.” Amen to that. Its time to demand that President Obama, Congress and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement ICE) put an end to this kind of racial profiling and inhumane treatment.