Homeland Security cuts immigration enforcement ties with Arizona sheriff

By | 12.16.11 | 8:06 am

Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Pic by Gage Skidmore, via Flickr)

The Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday it is immediately terminating its immigration enforcement agreements with the office of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz.

Homeland Security writes:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is troubled by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) findings of discriminatory policing practices within the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). Discrimination undermines law enforcement and erodes the public trust. DHS will not be a party to such practices. Accordingly, and effective immediately, DHS is terminating MCSO’s 287(g) jail model agreement and is restricting the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office access to the Secure Communities program. DHS will utilize federal resources for the purpose of identifying and detaining those individuals who meet U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) immigration enforcement priorities. The Department will continue to enforce federal immigration laws in Maricopa County in smart, effective ways that focus our resources on criminal aliens, recent border crossers, repeat and egregious immigration law violators and employers who knowingly hire illegal labor.

A Department of Justice report released Thursday found that Arpaio, an advocate for controversial immigration enforcement and detention measures, has committed a “wide range of civil rights violations.”

The Department of Justice states that the ongoing civil rights investigation of the Arpaio’s office found “reasonable cause to believe that MCSO, under the leadership of Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio, has engaged in a pattern or practice of misconduct that violates the Constitution and federal law.”

“We are pleased the Department of Justice report compelled the Department of Homeland Security to take steps today that should have been taken years ago,” said Chris Newman, Legal Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network in a written statement.

The Network adds:

As the DOJ report implies, DHS was an accomplice in the rights violations caused by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. DHS enabled Sheriff Arpaio to conduct his reign of terror, and expansion of the Maricopa Sheriff’s approach led to SB 1070 and to the potential Arizonification of the country. Today, the Department of Justice again acted to clean up the mess caused by failed DHS policies that enlist local police into the business of enforcing unjust immigration laws. It is time for DHS to stop contributing to the civil rights crisis described in the DOJ report and end the programs that made Arpaio’s crimes possible.”

The National Immigration Forum writes that the “Justice Department findings confirm what the American public had already suspected: Sheriff Arpaio has been more concerned with headlines than the Constitution and the law,” adding that they “also hail Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s prompt termination of the MCSO’s 287g agreement, which delegates authority for immigration enforcement to local officials, and restriction of the MCSO’s access to the Secure Communities program.”

Immigrant advocates across the U.S. have denounced Secure Communities, a highly controversial federal immigration enforcement program critics say contributes to racial profiling, demanding that the Obama administration terminate the program immediately

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