Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sheriff Joe’s Desert Disaster: What Happens When Nativists Get Their Way

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

The East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Arizona, recently ran a five-part series on Crazy Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the wingnut nativist who has been doing his damnedest to round up and deport every illegal immigrant in Maricopa County.

It’s really quite damning from the outset; the initial piece makes it clear that Arpaio has transformed what was once a typical local law-enforcement agency into an immigration bureau. Even more damning is the reportage on how grossly "America’s sheriff" and his crew violate federal laws along the way:
But the deputies’ work that morning, as with dozens of similar MCSO immigration patrols across the county, violated federal regulations intended to prevent racial profiling, a Tribune investigation found.

Those regulations specifically forbid crackdowns like Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s “crime suppression/anti-illegal immigration sweeps” unless there is “reliable, empirical data” that serious crime is taking place. That’s defined as 911 calls and crime statistics based on reports, among other things.

But the sheriff’s office conducts large-scale operations without any evidence of criminal activity. The sweeps are billed as crackdowns on general crime, primarily in neighborhoods where many Hispanics live and work.

That’s exactly what federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement rules are designed to prevent.
What’s perhaps most outrageous about this: Even though Arpaio is clearly flouting the regulations, officials at ICE in Arizona have given him their official imprimatur.

And what do the Maricopa County taxpayers get out of all this? Why, crappy law enforcement, of course, as Part IV reported:
In Guadalupe, grocery store employees waited in vain for help during an armed robbery.

In Queen Creek, vandalism spread through a neighborhood where Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies rarely patrolled.

In Aguila, people bought guns in the face of rising crime that deputies couldn’t respond to quickly enough.

And in El Mirage, dozens of serious felony cases went uninvestigated.

Response times, arrest rates, investigations and other routine police work throughout Maricopa County have suffered over the past two years as Sheriff Joe Arpaio turned his already short-handed and cash-strapped department into an immigration enforcement agency, a Tribune investigation found.
Another point worth noting, and not mentioned in this series: Arpaio’s raids are not only a waste of his deputies’ time, they also suck up the resources of the local LEOs where the raids occur. When Arpaio repeated the Mesa raids this summer, it also cost the Mesa city government absurd amounts of overtime for its own officers to keep track of Arpaio’s deputies.

The standard nativist position on immigration — and it is largely now the position of nearly every Republican politician — is that we simply need to enforce the laws on the books, round up every illegal immigrant and deport them; if they want to immigrate, let them do it legally, blah blah blah.

Here’s a good example of what happens when you do that.

[H/t to bmaz for the Mesa info.]

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