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38,000 + signatures against Arizona Sheriff brought to DC

Video of Press Conference University of New Mexico/Talk Radio News Service

by Christina Lovato, University of New Mexico-Talk Radio News Service

“All I want to do is except these petitions, welcome you, advise you that the Department of Justice has an investigation going on surrounding activities in Maricopa County and guess what, your not the only ones that have a sheriff that needs to be investigated in this country.” said Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) at a press conference to present a petition of more than 38,000 signatures calling on the Department of Justice and Homeland Security to investigate Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s alleged civil rights abuses.

Arpaio has 2,700 lawsuits filed against him and this month the House Judiciary Committee called for the Justice Department to conduct a federal investigation on Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s enforcement tactics.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) expressed that the sheriff’s tactics are examples of police power and are a violation of federal law. Nadler said, “In 2009, in the United States, we simply cannot tolerate such patterns of discrimination and denial of due process. Sheriff Arpaio’s malicious and vigilante practices are not immigration enforcement.” stated Nadler.

“We carry the burden of being stuck with this man but it is not an Arizona problem, this is a national disgrace…It can’t be tolerated.” said Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Grijalva said he never supported the 287(g) program which trains local officers to enforce immigration law. “Put it in the wrong hands, it becomes abusive, discriminatory, and breaks the law and that’s what happened here…That particular program, the worst case scenario was in front of you and that Sheriff Arpaio.” he said.

Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said that the 287(g) program is the Bush Administration’s failed experiment to outsource federal responsibility and expressed that the change we all voted for last November will soon bring order to the broken immigration system. “We must turn the page and we must together restore the nation’s promise for life, liberty and for the pursuit of happiness for all.” concluded Alvarado.


http://talkradionews.com/2009/03/38000-signatures-against-arizona-sheriff-brought-to-dc/

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Arpaio target of Justice Department probe

By East Valley Tribune
East Valley Tribune
updated 1:47 a.m. PT,  Wed., March. 11, 2009

Mesa, Arizona – The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department over allegations of discriminatory practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures.

House panel wants Arpaios policies examined

In a letter dated Tuesday to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the department’s Civil Rights Division said investigators will focus on alleged patterns of discriminatory police practices and on allegations of discrimination based on a person’s national origin.

Arpaio has gained a national profile for several controversial practices, including ongoing efforts to arrest illegal immigrants in the Phoenix area.

Arpaio called the investigation unwarranted and a political situation. He defended the arrest methods of his deputies, contending they are well-trained and do not racially profile during crime sweeps.

The letter, signed by Loretta King, acting assistant attorney general, “We have not reached any conclusions about the subject matter of the investigation … We also will offer to provide recommendations on ways to improve practices and procedures, as appropriate.”

“Well, I’m not surprised,” Arpaio said about the investigation. “No way do I feel this investigation is warranted. (Phoenix Mayor) Phil Gordon went to the Department of Justice about a year ago and wanted them to look into my office, and I’m sure the FBI has looked into it. The allegations are the same types that have been going on, and that we arrest dishwashers, and on and on …”

In February, four Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate possible civil rights violations based on complaints that Arpaio’s deputies are targeting people based on their skin color during neighborhood crime sweeps and raids at work sites.

Among the congressmen pushing for the investigation were: Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich., and chairman of the judiciary committee; Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., immigration subcommittee chairwoman; Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.; and Bobby Scott, D-Va.

Last year, FBI agents were reportedly investigating racial profiling allegations in response to Gordon’s request for a federal inquiry.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement also conducted an audit of how its Arizona office oversees the sheriff’s immigration enforcement, but has not made its findings public.

The Government Accountability Office last week reported its investigation found that ICE has not sufficiently overseen its local immigration enforcement program, which includes the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

Arpaio was steadfast in defending his office’s arrest practices and told the Tribune on Tuesday he is being used as the “poster child” for the enforcement of the 287G Program that has allowed his deputies to be trained in the apprehension and arrests of illegal immigrants.

Today, Mary Rose Wilcox, who serves on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, was scheduled to appear before Congress with a petition signed by more than 35,000 people from around the nation calling for a Justice Department investigation into Arpaio’s office.

“I’m not really concerned with the Department of Justice,” Arpaio said. “If they want to come down, we will cooperate with them. If there’s something to learn from them, we will.”

The Justice Department declined comment beyond the contents of the letter sent to Arpaio’s office, said spokeswoman Laura Sweeney.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29630232/

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Arpaio to be investigated over alleged civil-rights violations

The U.S. Justice Department has launched a civil-rights investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office after months of mounting complaints that deputies are discriminating in their enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Officials from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division notified Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Tuesday that they had begun the investigation, which will focus on whether deputies are engaging in “patterns or practices of discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures.”

An expert said it is the department’s first civil-rights probe related to immigration enforcement.

Arpaio vehemently denies that deputies are illegally profiling as part of his immigration crackdowns. He said Tuesday that he welcomes the investigation and intends to cooperate fully.

“We have nothing to hide,” he said.

Although Arpaio’s illegal-immigration crackdowns have broad public support, they also have led to calls for an examination of his tactics.

Last year, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon asked for a federal investigation of possible civil-rights abuses. Last month, four key Democratic members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee asked Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to investigate Arpaio.

The lawmakers said Arpaio had exceeded the limits of a federal program that gives local police federal immigration-enforcement powers by ordering deputies to “scour” Latino neighborhoods looking for illegal immigrants based on skin color.

Arpaio, who was easily re-elected to a fifth term in November, called the investigation politically motivated and vowed to continue to arrest illegal immigrants.

“I am not going to be intimidated by the politics and by the Justice Department,” Arpaio said. “I want the people of Arizona to know this: I will continue to enforce all the immigration laws.”

Arpaio uses the sweeps to enforce the state’s employer-sanctions and anti-smuggling laws. He also participates in a federal program that lets local officers enforce federal immigration laws. The sweeps have taken place in mostly Latino neighborhoods or near where day laborers congregate. They have sparked two racial-profiling lawsuits.

The Justice Department frequently receives racial-profiling complaints against police departments, but investigations are rare, said David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor and racial-profiling expert.

“The fact that this has come to their attention and they have announced their intent to investigate is highly significant,” Harris said. “It says there is enough there to be investigated. It’s not an iffy case that (can be ignored).”

Harris said this is the first civil-rights investigation stemming from immigration enforcement. The probe could last several months.

In a two-page letter dated Tuesday, Loretta King, acting assistant attorney general, said that if the investigation uncovers violations, her office will work with Arpaio to find remedies.

But Arpaio said he will battle the Justice Department in court if he disagrees with any of the changes the department tries to impose.

In the 1990s, the department conducted similar civil-rights investigations and found patterns of police discrimination in about 20 cases, including in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. In those cases, law-enforcement agencies agreed to significant changes aimed at preventing discrimination or face a court injunction, Harris said.

“Once the Justice Department finds violations, the threat of going to court is usually enough to encourage them to agree to change,” Harris said. Changes have included increased supervision and changing policies, Harris said.

Investigations into patterns of police discrimination are “not about punishing individual officers; they are about changing the fundamental” way an agency operates, he said.

Gordon, who met with King and Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Wodatch on Tuesday in Washington, praised the investigation.

“We should all be encouraged that our new attorney general is taking these issues seriously,” he said.

Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, the board’s lone Democrat and most vocal critic of Arpaio’s immigration policies, had planned to help deliver a petition today with 35,000 Internet signatures calling for a Justice Department investigation.

“I think they’re going to find racial profiling, which is a civil-rights abuse,” said Wilcox, who was in Washington for a National Association of Counties conference. “It’s time to put a stop to them. It may cost us millions in lawsuits.”

Board Chairman Max Wilson, one of the board’s four Republicans, said he was surprised by the investigation.

“I know there’s been some accusations made,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s any merits to them. I’ve almost had my hands full of people making accusations without people having some solid, hard evidence to back it up.”

 

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DOJ Launches Investigation of Sheriff Joe Arpaio: Advocates Call for Immediate Termination of 287g Contract with DHS

Press Conference on Capitol Hill, 1 pm, March 11.

Contact:  Chris Newman, 323-717-5310, newman@ndlon.org

Date:  March 10, 2009

On March 10, Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King sent a letter to Sheriff Joe Arpaio announcing a Department of Justice investigation of  alleged “discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures conducted by the MCSO,” among other alleged violations of federal law.  A copy of the letter is available here.  The formal investigation follows a request by Congressman Conyers that the DOJ take action to respond to myriad complaints of racial profiling in Maricopa County.    Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon first requested a DOJ investigation nearly a year ago.   And on February 28, over 5,000 people marched four miles through Phoenix to ask the the federal government to immediately  terminate its 287g(g) contract with Joe Arpaio.

On March 11, at 1 pm,  advocates from across the country and civil rights leaders will join elected officials, including Congressman Conyers and Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox,  to discuss the investigation in a press conference on Capitol Hill.

“We are very hopeful a Department of Justice investigation will vindicate the rights of people who have been terrorized by Sheriff Arpaio,” said Salvador Reza of the PUENTE movement in Phoenix, AZ.  “We also hope the Obama administration will immediately terminate the US government’s 287(g) contract with Maricopa County while the judicial process takes its course.”

“The federal government has the obligation to reform immigration laws and to uphold the Constitution,” said Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.  “Its failure to act has resulted in an emerging civil and human rights crisis.”

Video footage from Maricopa County is available here.

 

###

 

 

Chris Newman, Esq

Legal Director

National Day Laborer Organizing Network

675 South Park View Street, Suite B

Los Angeles, CA 90057 

newman@ndlon.org

(213) 380-2785

(213) 353-1344 [fax]

www.ndlon.org

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Revisions could prompt Arpaio’s ICE-program exit

Homeland Security officials will make it clear in newly written guidelines that a federal program that lets local police enforce federal immigration laws is primarily for going after immigrants who commit serious crimes.

But Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Thursday that he would likely drop out of the program if immigration officials attempt to curtail his enforcement powers, including his ability to arrest immigrants for merely being in the country illegally.

That wouldn’t be the end of Arpaio’s controversial immigration crackdowns, which have led to allegations of racial profiling. Arpaio said that even if he drops out of the federal program he will continue arresting illegal immigrants under the state’shuman smuggling law and employer sanctions laws. He said he also would turn over any suspected illegal immigrants his deputies encounter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement even if they haven’t committed any offense other than being in the country illegally.

“If the (federal) program gets too strict, then I am going to have to seriously reconsider,” Arpaio said. “But I’m still going to enforce state laws, and when we come across illegal immigrants, we are going to take action.”

ICE officials are rewriting the rules of the program, known as 287(g), in response to a federal report that found the program lacks clear goals about what kinds of criminals should be targeted. The report by the Government Accountability Office also found that the program fails to supervise local officers and does not detail what kind of crime and arrest data local agencies should be collecting.

The new rules and agreements will clarify that program participants are to focus on undocumented immigrants who commit serious crimes, such as assault, rape or murder.

“I like it the way it is now,” Arpaio said of the two-year-old agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The two-pronged agreement allows sheriff’s deputies to identify and arrest illegal immigrants they encounter on the street while investigating other crimes. It also allows jail officials to place immigration holds on inmates suspected of being in the country illegally.

“I signed up not for the jail (portion of the agreement), I signed up to enforce the laws on the street. That is where the action is,” Arpaio said.

Arpaio does not need the ICE agreement to continue his immigration raids. He has classified all of his neighborhood crime sweeps and worksite raids as an enforcement of state laws, not federal immigration laws. He says, and ICE has agreed in the past, that the agreement doesn’t apply to those raids, even though deputies cross-trained as immigration agents frequently arrest people on immigration violations during those operations.

Michael Keegan, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, declined to respond to Arpaio’s comments. He said that while the rewritten agreements will continue to allow local police trained to enforce immigration laws to arrest any illegal immigrants they encounter, the agreements will emphasize a focus on those who commit serious crimes.

Keegan said the rewritten agreements also will call for better supervision and data collection of local police enforcing immigration laws.

With 160 deputies and jail officers trained to enforce immigration laws, Arpaio is the largest participant in the rapidly growing program. His officers have arrested about 1,500 illegal immigrants under the program, and placed immigration holds on more then 22,000 inmates. Four Democratic senators have called for an investigation of Arpaio’s sweeps, concerned about accusations that deputies are unconstitutionally looking for illegal immigrants based on race and primarily target immigrants for traffic violations and other minor offenses.

DHS does not have data that shows whether the majority of immigrants arrested by Arpaio’s deputies committed serious or minor crimes but the department plans to request that data from ICE, Keegan said.

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2009/03/06/20090306immig0306.html

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De La Rocha Rages Against Arpaio


Rage Against The Machine and One Day As A Lion frontman Zack De La Rocha was one of the leaders of a Phoenix, check Ariz. protest against Maricopa County Sheriff (and DMX nemesis) Joe Arpaio and his enforcement of federal immigration laws against Latinos on Saturday.

“Without the proper warrants, he raids the homes and workplaces of janitors and gardeners,” De La Rocha told demonstrators at the end of the rally. “At routine traffic stops, he detains and deports mothers, violently separating them from their children, who are left abandoned.”

The controversial Arpaio was criticized after he recently invited the media to watch as he led undocumented Hispanic inmates who were shackled together by their hands and feet into the infamous Tent City prison, where detainees are forced to wear pink underwear and are subjected to Arizona’s sizzling summer heat. 

The policies and practices of the 76-year-old Arpaio, who describes himself as “America’s toughest sheriff,” have been criticized by Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Arizona Ecumenical Council, the American Jewish Committee and the Arizona chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, among others.

Arpaio’s alleged mis of prison inmates made him the target of 2,150 lawsuits in U.S. District Court and hundreds more in Maricopa County courts from 2004 through November 2007, 50 times as many prison-condition lawsuits as the New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston jail systems combined.

“I don’t know why they have to have signs calling me illiterate and a Nazi and every other name in the book,” Arpaio told the Los Angeles Times newspaper. “I’m not concerned about them or some elected officials, they all seem to be Democrats. 

“Nothing changes. They are not going to deter me.”

De La Rocha performed a free show and addressed the issue of alleged racial profiling used against Latinos the night before the protest.

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