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AMERICA'S TOUGHEST SHERIFF, PART II

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In the Oct 2009 SOF issue we began a series on the adventures of the colorful Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County and his accomplishments, America’s toughest Sheriff.

 

We left off with two threats that were shadowing the gutsy lawman. The first threat was made by the hapless Rev. Al Sharpton, who warned Sheriff Joe that if he did not resign, he (Rev. Al) was going to Phoenix to incite Black and Hispanic citizens and illegal immigrants to force him out of office for “Racial Profiling.”

 

The second threat was more ominous, and if true is an outrageous abuse of power by the Obama administration, which mobilized an army of officials to descend on the sheriff’s office to “investigate” his “racial profiling.”

 

By the second time we met with Sheriff Joe, in mid May, he had been informed of both threats by Rev. Sharpton and officials of the Obama administration.

 

SHERIFF JOE THE SACRIFICAL LAMB?

“Bring them on,” he said, telling us that he was not bothered in the least by the coming storms.

 

I didn’t believe it—even the toughest of the tough struggle. “You look beat up today,” I told him.

 

“The Obama administration, Rev. Sharpton, ACORN and, including the Board of Supervisors and the City Mayor, only listen to the media lies; they don’t bother to find out the truth,” he said. “They have cut my budget by 17 percent. It’s about attacking my illegal immigration law enforcement efforts.

 

“Its about the Hispanic vote; the Administration and activists don’t want to piss off employers and the Hispanic population, so they are all pushing for amnesty for the thousands of illegal immigrants, inviting another flood of illegals,” he said, his craggy face wracked with frustration.

 

MEDIA—WATCHDOG OR RABID PIT BULL?

In a democracy, the media in theory is independent—a vigilant watchdog keeping the people informed of corrupt or improper government behavior. That is one aspect of the First Amendment. Another aspect of the First Amendment is the right of an individual, whether in government or not, to defend himself or herself against lies.

 

Sheriff Joe is no exception. He must be held accountable, and he must be able to defend against false accusations and lies. The blog media treatment of Sheriff Joe’s actions, which often results in twisting the facts, only represents a lop-sided story of Sheriff Joe’s actions.

 

I was amazed at the repeat of the same hysterical reports, not confirmed by those regurgitating them, that are circulating the web and newspapers.

 

Granted, Sheriff Joe is a media hound, and some would argue that he asks for it by publicizing his nearly every move; but nothing justifies the events that have unfolded in the months since our visit.

 

At the same time, in all fairness to the mass media, it cannot be held responsible for reporting lies that an  administration feeds them regarding specific events.

 

Little did Sheriff Joe or SOF have the slightest idea of the third world politics that were going to be used in the following months, and the trashing of First Amendment rights that was to follow by a new bullying administration

in Washington.

 

“THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT OF THE 21st CENTURY”

The Rev. Sharpton teamed up with ACORN’s Bertha Lewis in Phoenix in June. For some illogical reason, Rev. Sharpton and the ACORN chief had decided that the issue is about civil rights. Lewis said she went to Phoenix “because African–Americans need to be part of immigration reform, the civil rights movement of the 21st Century,”

New America Media reported.

 

“We’re gonna start some freedom rides around this county, to show how people of a certain skin color are treated different than other people,” Sharpton told several hundred parishioners in Phoenix.

 

“We are not here about Sheriff Joe, as much as we are here about Citizen Jose. I would not fly all the way across country to engage in the personality of Sheriff Joe. But I will fly anywhere to protect the rights of Citizen Jose and Citizen Jamal.” AP reported Sharpton as saying.

 

The Sheriff Joe controversy is not about Citizen Jose and Citizen Jamal. It is about illegal non-citizens.

 

If the Rev.’s fight is about illegal immigration, he never bothered to check out the statistics of the nationality of those crossing over the Arizona border. Nearly all are Hispanic.

 

“I rarely run across people other than Hispanics crossing the border illegally. I never saw an Iraqi or terrorist,” Sheriff Joe told us.

 

WHICH IS IT, CRIME OR ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION?

“You cannot have law enforcement that is based on skin color rather than proper deeds,” Sharpton said. “If I break the law, arrest me. But don’t make me a suspect because of the color of my skin, or because of my language.”

 

The Census Bureau reports the population in Arizona as 58.4 percent Caucasian (7 percent less than the national average), and 30.1 percent Hispanic population (double the percentage of Hispanic population nationwide). I doubt those figures include illegal immigrants. Black persons are listed at 4.2 percent, 8.5 percent less than the national average.

 

KNXV TV in Phoenix reports that of 10,000 inmates in Sheriff Joe’s jails, 44 percent are Hispanic (half legal and

half illegal), 37 percent are white, and 14 percent are Black.

 

It is impossible to draw accurate conclusions about arrests in Maricopa County without a complete, independent statistical analysis because of the complexity of the issues.

 

“When they say illegals don’t cut crimes, they cut palm trees, a lot of them do, but 20 percent of those illegals locked up in my jails are in jail for other crimes,” Sheriff Joe told us. Human trafficking has various criminal elements. The smugglers charge up to $6000 dollars for each person and if they don’t pay, the smugglers brutalize them.”

 

60 detention officers trained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have conducted over 106,000 interviews and investigations of inmates booked into jail since April of 2007, according to the Sheriff’s office.

 

“In those 18 months, 16,000 inmates were determined to be illegal aliens. Either they have already been deported or will be deported after being tried and/or serving their sentences for crimes committed in the valley. The work being done be Arpaio’s detention staff is a likely contributor to the recent reduction in crime in the valley,” Sheriff Joe said in a press release.

 

“That number of 16,000 represents a full one-third of all inmates in the United States who have had holds placed on them after being identified by jail or prison officials as illegal aliens.”

 

“20 percent of inmates in the Maricopa County Jail are illegal aliens and of those, 2,000 illegal aliens—70 percent—were arrested for felony crimes,” the press release said.

 

THE DESERT DIVAS

Just a quick overview of the highly publicized Maricopa County Sheriff Office’s programs did not indicate racial profiling.

 

Take the DEADBEAT PARENTS HALL OF SHAME, for example. “I started that on Valentine’s day,” Sheriff Joe told us. Most of the mug shots of parents who are far behind in child support are Caucasian.

Then there is the hooker roundup.

 

“I go after hookers because I needed to clean up the streets of downtown Phoenix,” Sheriff Joe told us. Statistics show that race and position are not a factor.

 

A proud LEGAL Hispanic citizen who had recently gained his citizenship was selected to swear Joe Arpaio in the fourth time he was elected.

 

The Rev. Sharpton’s threat to the Sheriff’s office was much ado about nothing. But that from the Obama administration takes us into a pre-constitution twilight zone.

 

AN AMERICAN TWILIGHT ZONE

Robert N. Driscoll, the attorney representing the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office and a District-based lawyer for Maricopa County, served as a civil rights official at the Justice Department in the last Bush administration. He has been representing Sheriff Joe in the three investigations launched in the first 100 days of President Obama’s tenure for alleged discrimination and abuses in searches and seizures.

 

“When one law enforcement agency becomes subject to three federal investigations in a matter of weeks immediately after a shift of political control in Washington, it is difficult not to speculate that politics played a role in the decision or that policy differences related to hot-button topics such as local law enforcement’s vigorous enforcement of immigration related crimes are being litigated through enforcement actions,” Driscoll wrote to the DOJ.

 

A MAJOR ACHIEVEMENT??

The Justice Department included their investigation of Sheriff Joe in a list of accomplishments it prepared for reporters in April, the Washington Post reported. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. stressed civil rights laws as a high priority for the new administration.

 

Since our visit, Arpaio’s office has been complaining that the team of investigators had not given notice before busting in to gather documents and interrogating witnesses without legal counsel. Driscoll requested the DOJ to investigate ethic violations carried out by their agents.

 

In the meantime, the new administration has watered down the 287(g) provision that allows federal and local law enforcement officials to coordinate apprehending illegal immigrants.

 

Driscoll wrote in a letter to Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security; Mr. Skinner, Inspector General of Homeland Security; and Attorney General Holder: “On July 10, 2009, John Morton, Assistant Secretary for ICE, personally called Sheriff Arpaio to assure him that the existing 287(g) agreement would continue for 90 days and that the Sheriff could take the next 90 days to review and express his concerns regarding the new program…. the current 287(g) agreement would remain firmly in place.”

 

A shocking deception unfolds in the letter. The ICE agents came to Phoenix and illegally released suspects who had been picked up by the sheriff’s office for probable cause pursuant to the 287(g) procedures which applied. The Sheriff notified local ICE officials of the round up; they showed up and issued G-56 letters to the suspects, which gave them an instant release, probably never to be seen again.

 

The three-day operation netted 74 arrests, including 10 admitted illegal aliens whom the Sheriff’s office said should have been arrested and turned over to ICE for immigration violations.

 

IT’S AMNESTY WITH OFFICIAL LETTERING

G-56 letters are a release card that have allowed millions of illegal immigrants to stay in the United States, according to the Sheriff's office. Those given a G-56 card are on their honor to appear at a later date. Right.

 

According to a Washington Times editorial, when confronted, the ICE agents blamed the release on the Sheriff’s office. Matthew Chandler, DHS spokesperson in Washington, told the media that “The determination to release these individuals lies solely within the MCSO office, and that ICE officials gave permission to the MCSO officer to question the individuals and had no other engagement and that ICE gave the MCSO permission to interview the individuals, arrest and initiate removal proceedings—instead Sheriff Arpaio released them. On Friday night, the Sheriff’s Office was given specific instructions on how to institute immigration proceedings against any individuals suspected of being in his country illegally, however they declined to do so. These actions are disappointing and detract from immigration law enforcement efforts not only in Arizona, but throughout the rest of the country as well,” Driscoll wrote.

 

Sheriff Joe immediately disputed the DHS account and released audio recordings confirming that ICE repeatedly refused to authorize 287 (g) guidelines.

 

After the Sheriff publicly exposed the “inaccurate and deceptive statements,” the DHS contacted Sheriff Joe. Matthew C. Allen, ICE Special Agent in Charge, threatened to immediately terminate MCSO’s involvement in the 287(g) program because the Sheriff contacted the media without first obtaining approval from DHS. The 287(g) agreement provisions call for asking permission from ICE for what content is allowed in reports to the media , according to Driscoll.

 

We have no reason to suspect that Sheriff Joe’s account is not as Driscoll portrays it in his letter to the administration. If his interpretation of the events is confirmed and Sheriff Joe did not have the guts to fire back and disregard the ICE’s censorship procedure, we would know nothing about this outrage.