Saturday, February 14, 2009

Finally! House Judiciary Committee calls for investigation into Sheriff Joe

-- by Dave

When he isn't hosting Brazil-esque "reality" shows and having his deputies arrest people for applauding at county council meetings, Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been making Maricopa County's law enforcement a national disgrace.

Now, finally, the House Judiciary Committee is calling for the Justice and Homeland departments to investigate Arpaio's activities:

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), and Immigration Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Constitution Subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Crime Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.) called on Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to investigate allegations of misconduct by Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Sheriff Arpaio has repeatedly demonstrated disregard for the rights of Hispanics in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Under the guise of immigration enforcement, his staff has conducted raids in residential neighborhoods in a manner condemned by the community as racial profiling. On February 4, 2009, Arpaio invited the media to view the transfer of immigrant detainees to a segregated area of his "tent city" jail, subjecting the detainees to public display and "ritual humiliation." Persistent actions such as these have resulted in numerous lawsuits; while Arpaio spends time and energy on publicity and his reality television show, "Smile… You’re Under Arrest!", Maricopa County has paid millions of dollars in settlements involving dead or injured inmates.

"Racial profiling and segregation are simply not acceptable." said Conyers. "Media stunts and braggadocio are no substitute for fair and effective law enforcement."

As Frank Sharry observes:

The Judiciary Committee also asks the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review the agreement that DHS has signed with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which Joe has so roundly abused. Report after report has shown that Sheriff Arpaio regularly engages in racial profiling in Latino neighborhoods. It's part of the reason he has 2,700 lawsuits filed against him.

For his latest publicity stunt, Arpaio paraded immigrant detainees through the streets of Phoenix in order to segregate and relocate them to a "Tent City" surrounded by electric fencing. The 287 (g) agreement gives the Sheriff authority to enforce federal immigration laws, but it does not provide permission to use racial profiling or other tactics that violate an individual's constitutional rights.

It does not give one the right to create mini-Gitmos.

Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.

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