Obama’s harassment of Sheriff Joe

By Tom Tancredo

As part of the Obama administration’s lawsuit against Arizona’s new law, SB 1070, President Obama’s lawyers had an Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement bureaucrat, Daniel Ragsdale, file a brief to the court against the state of Arizona. What Ragsdale said about immigration law enforcement gives the lie both to the Obama lawsuit and to the administration’s current attacks on Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

ICE bureaucrat Ragsdale argued that Arizona did not need SB 1070 because the feds were already enforcing immigration law in the state. He even allowed for some cooperation with local officials. Ragsdale specifically noted that as part of the vigorous federal enforcement operation, “Phoenix … has a fugitive operations team, a robust criminal alien program, and it manages the 287(g) programs in the counties of Maricopa, Yavapai, and Pinal, as well as at the Arizona Department of Corrections.”

The 287(g) program was created by the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. It authorized federal immigration authorities to train and deputize
 state and local law enforcement to fight illegal immigration.

Despite using the success of 287(g) in Maricopa County (where 58 percent of the state’s residents live), as a justification for suing to invalidate SB 1070, the Obama administration has now revoked the program as part of an all-out assault against Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The justification for revoking the agreement comes from a 22-page letter written by Thomas Perez, the head of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department. The letter accuses Sheriff Joe of “discriminatory policing” and not giving enough bilingual services to Spanish-speaking prisoners.

According to Perez, the letter to Arpaio is a result of a three-year-long investigation. The investigation was aided “by four leading police practice experts, one jail expert, and an expert on statistical analysis; we reviewed tens of thousands of pages of documentary evidence; toured [Maricopa County’s] jails; and interviewed over 400 individuals, including approximately 150 former and current … inmates, and more than 75 former and current [Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office] personnel.”

While Perez presumably included these details to argue that his investigation was thorough, what this really means is that he has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on this Obama witch hunt. Perez gave Arpaio the option of allowing left-wing bureaucrats in the Obama administration to micromanage his department, or face litigation.

Prior to working for Eric Holder and the Obama administration, Perez was on the board of Casa De Maryland. CASA is a National Council of La Raza affiliate organization that receives millions of dollars from George Soros and Hugo Chavez’s state-run oil company. They have set up day-labor centers for illegal aliens and even printed Spanish-language pamphlets to encourage illegal aliens not to cooperate with the police or immigration authorities.

Perez’s main allegation is that Sheriff Joe is racially profiling in his enforcement of laws against illegal immigration. The principal basis for this is a statistical study that claims that Hispanics are more likely to be pulled over and searched by Arpaio’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies. 
However, the Obama administration refuses to release the data behind the study.

Even Robert Robb, a liberal columnist of the Arizona Republic, who previously accused Arpaio of running a “rogue agency,” wrote that “the letter is uncomfortably weak regarding evidence to back up its sweeping charges of pervasive racial discrimination.”

I should note that while Sheriff Joe is not racially profiling, the Supreme Court has ruled that ethnicity may be a legitimate factor in immigration enforcement. In the 1975 case United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled “the likelihood that any given person of Mexican ancestry is an alien is high enough to make Mexican appearance a relevant factor, but, standing alone, it does not justify stopping all Mexican-Americans to ask if they are aliens.”

No one is accusing Sheriff Joe of indiscriminately stopping all Hispanics and demanding their papers. But neither the Constitution, Supreme Court precedent nor the truth matters to the Obama/Holder Justice Department. Instead, they are determined not to enforce our immigration laws on the federal level and attack anyone who does the job on the local level.

Under the leadership of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, 25 percent of all deportation in the United States since
 2007 came from Maricopa County. Arpaio’s success in identifying and deporting illegal aliens stands in sharp contrast to ICE’s weak enforcement across the rest of the nation. That success is an embarrassment to the federal immigration authorities, and this is why they are suing him and revoking his 287(g) authority. Apparently, Arizona’s enforcement efforts must be brought down to the levels of New York and Chicago and other sanctuary cities.

A Department of Homeland Security press release claimed that even though they are breaking the agreement, “The Department will continue to enforce federal immigration laws in Maricopa County.”

The hypocrisy and political motivation behind the Justice Department’s actions are both obvious and odious. If the Obama administration is serious about enforcing the law, they should be emulating Sheriff Joe across the country instead of harassing him.

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