From The Arizona Republic:
Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl are continuing to press Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on the decision to limit Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s immigration-enforcement authority.
Amid controversy over Arpaio’s ongoing crime-suppression sweeps, Immigration and Customs Enforcement dropped the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office from the 287(g) “task force model” that allowed deputies to enforce federal immigration laws on the streets. (The Sheriff’s Office still can enforce immigration laws in the jails.) Homeland Security officials have said Arpaio’s wide-reaching operations don’t align with ICE priorities of targeting only “serious criminal aliens.”
McCain and Kyl, both Arizona Republicans, have been exchanging letters with Napolitano on the topic since October.
“It is our desire that (the Department of Homeland Security) continue to have a productive working relationship with its local law-enforcement partners in Arizona,” McCain and Kyl wrote last month in their most recent letter. “To that end, we would appreciate a specific response outlining what steps are necessary for all 287(g)-participating jurisdictions within Arizona to take part in the task-force model.”
The senators have not received an answer, but on Thursday, Napolitano was asked what it would take for Arpaio’s office to rejoin the model.
“It would require them to agree to the standards that the other law-enforcement agencies have agreed to do,” Napolitano said during a meeting with reporters and editors at The Arizona Republic.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Joe Arpaio has escalated his tactics, not only defying the federal government on immigration but launching repeated investigations of those who criticize him.
Reporting from Phoenix – The day after the federal government told Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio that he could no longer use his deputies to round up suspected illegal immigrants on the street, the combative Arizona sheriff did just that.
He launched one of his notorious “sweeps,” in which his officers descend on heavily Latino neighborhoods, arrest hundreds of people for violations as minor as a busted headlight and ask them whether they are in the country legally.
“I wanted to show everybody it didn’t make a difference,” Arpaio said of the Obama administration’s order.
[He] has escalated his tactics in recent months, not only defying the federal government but launching repeated investigations of those who criticize him. He recently filed a racketeering lawsuit against the entire Maricopa County power structure. On Thursday night, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued an emergency order forbidding the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office from searching the home or chambers of a Superior Court judge who was named in the racketeering case.
Last year, when Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon called for a federal investigation of Arpaio’s immigration enforcement, the Sheriff’s Office demanded to see Gordon’s e-mails, phone logs and appointment calendars.
When the police chief in one suburb complained about the sweeps, Arpaio’s deputies raided that town’s City Hall.
A local television station, KPHO, in a 10-minute-long segment last month, documented two dozen instances of the sheriff launching investigations of critics, none of which led to convictions.
The most notorious case involves county Supervisor Don Stapley, a Republican who has sometimes disagreed with Arpaio’s immigration tactics. Last December, deputies arrested Stapley on charges of failing to disclose business interests properly on his statement of economic interest.
Stapley’s alarmed supervisor colleagues had their offices swept for listening devices. Arpaio contended the search was illegal and sent investigators to the homes of dozens of county staffers to grill them about the sweep.
A judge in September dismissed several of the allegations against Stapley, and prosecutors dropped the case. Three days later, Arpaio’s deputies arrested Stapley again after he parked his car in a downtown parking structure near his office.
Arpaio brushes off suggestions that he’s used his office to go after critics. Many of the complaints, as in the Stapley case, come from targets of anti-corruption probes that started with tips rather than the sheriff’s personal intercession.
“We don’t abuse our power,” Arpaio said in an interview. “We do what we have to do.”
Arpaio, a Republican, is highly popular in Arizona. He won reelection last year with 55% of the vote in the state’s most populous county.
The sheriff was not always at war with much of the region’s political establishment. A former official with the Drug Enforcement Administration who was first elected sheriff in 1992, Arpaio had support from the majority-Republican county Board of Supervisors and from local Latino leaders.
But by 2005, central Arizona was seething over illegal immigration. Crime was rising in Phoenix, a key smuggling hub that was becoming the kidnapping capital of the country.
Arpaio received a federal waiver, known as a 287(g), that allowed his deputies to enforce federal immigration laws. He said he had identified more than 30,000 illegal immigrants through his sweeps and interrogations in the county jail.
In October, the federal Department of Homeland Security revoked the 287(g) for Arpaio’s street operations, though he could continue to question jail inmates about their immigration status.
Latino community leaders say Arpaio has become more aggressive since he was stripped of some authority in the 287(g) program.
The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a civil rights investigation into Arpaio’s tactics. The sheriff has refused to cooperate and has called for an investigation of the investigators.
As Arpaio has fenced with the Obama administration, he has become embroiled in a sometimes-surreal battle with the five county supervisors who oversee his budget. Amid the recession, they have cut the sheriff’s budget by 12.2%.
Arpaio and Thomas filed a federal racketeering lawsuit against the county supervisors, administrators and several judges who have ruled against the two in prior cases.