LatinaLista — Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is not a happy camper these days.
It seems the federal government has had enough of the complaints lobbed against Arpaio's use of the government's 287(g) program, which authorizes local law enforcement to enforce immigration policy.
With his infamous "immigration sweep" operations, Arpaio has been accused of abusing the 287(g) program to the extent of conducting witch hunts for undocumented immigrants that result in legal Latino citizens being forced to prove their citizenship status.
So, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE ) officials created a new pact with Maricopa County that they say reigns in his 287 (g) powers. However, the only difference between the new pact and the old one is that now Arpaio will have to wait until he gets those arrested back to the jail to charge them with violating immigration policy, instead of being able to arrest them on the spot.
On the one hand, it means that no longer Arpaio is allowed to use a trumped up excuse to pull somebody over to see whether or not they are in the country legally. The crime for which he stops the people has to be real and warrants being handcuffed and carted back to jail where the citizenship status would then be determined.
Sounds reasonable. In fact, it's the way the 287(g) was originally envisioned to be implemented but Arpaio doesn't like the change and though Maricopa County supervisors have agreed to the new pact with ICE, Arpaio has not and has said he will continue what he's doing.
As a result, Arpaio's actions illustrate the disregard he has for how the 287(g) should be implemented and is practicing what a new report terms "Guilty by Immigration Status."
Guilty by Immigration Status: A report on U.S. violations of the rights of immigrant families, workers and communities in 2008 was compiled by HURRICANE, the Human Rights Immigrant Community Action Network, an initiative of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR).
The report details how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has built up over the last eight years a strategy to promote the criminalization of immigration status to detain and deport persons, often for minor offenses.
Guilty by Immigration Status describes how DHS, along with other police, public officials and agencies, routinely trumped the civil rights and constitutional protections of a person in order to question, detain and/or jail them solely based on their actual or perceived immigration status.
It's a practice prevalent with how Arpaio utilizes the 287 (g) program. A separate report lists various abuses by federal and local officials to capture and criminalize undocumented immigrants and their families.
While immigration policy must be enforced, it's all the more important to recognize that because of an inadequate enforcement, breaches were allowed to be made. Instead of trying to make up for 20 years of bad enforcement by empowering local law enforcement to abuse the 287(g), the federal government should revoke the 287(g) from local enforcement and wait till Congress decides on immigration reform.
Revoking the 287(g) is not detrimental to enforcing our immigration policy. Federal officials would continue to do that but it will take the lure of abusing a vulnerable group of people away from those who have turned the issue into a local political platform for their own benefit with little regard for the law itself.