A Taste of Real American Justice for Sheriff Arpaio


Video by America’s Voice.

Even immigration hardliners have to shake their heads at Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose anti-immigrant publicity stunts have angered countless across the nation. The Arizona Sheriff’s latest immigrant exploit, which reads like something out of a super villain’s Do It Yourself manual, involved rounding up immigrant detainees, shackling them and forcing them to march to a segregated tent city surrounded by an electric fence-something even Lex Luthor might think twice about.

But enough is enough. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced an investigation of Sheriff Arpaio’s Department over “allegations of discriminatory practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures.” DOJ’s Civil Rights Division sent a letter to Arpaio detailing the investigation’s focus on his “alleged patterns of discriminatory police practices and on discrimination based on a person’s national origin.”

And true to form, Arpaio responded to the investigation with his usual lack of accountability and unapologetic tone.

Well, I’m not surprised. No way do I feel this investigation is warranted…I’m not really concerned with the Department of Justice. If they want to come down, we will cooperate with them. If there’s something to learn from them, we will.

Today, in a demonstration of what “justice” really means, House Judiciary Chair John Conyers, Subcommittee on the Constitution Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox as well as a bevy of civil rights leaders, presented a petition to the Department of Justice and Homeland Security signed by more than 38,000 Arizona residents calling for an investigation of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Conyers opened the event with a call to end racial profiling in police enforcement.

Law enforcement officers have a very valuable and important function. The problem is they can’t interpret the law their own way to harass or use racial strategies to determine who they arrest and who they put in prison. We think, in a lot of ways, our Hispanics brothers and sisters are becoming the new targets of discrimination and profiling that used to occur to African Americans. What we’re saying together, African Americans, Hispanic Americans and everyone else–No more racial profiling!

Over the last few weeks, more than 5,000 activists from around the nation marched in protest of Arpaio’s egregious abuses of the law and discriminatory practices. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee even sent a letter to Attorney General Holder and Secretary Napolitano to conduct a federal investigation of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s enforcement tactics.

But perhaps “tactics” is too forgiving a word. Arpaio has racked up more than 2,700 lawsuits filed against him, yet continues on his fear-mongering immigration crusade in the name of American justice. If Arpaio really intended on enforcing the law, he might do well to take a look at the 40,000 outstanding felony warrants gathering dust in his office. Sheriff Arpaio is clearly set on making a mockery of our immigration system and will continue to create a climate of fear while real criminals walk freely.

I’ve said it over and over again. Even if they take away that federal authority, it doesn’t matter, I’m still enforcing two state laws. If they want to change the laws, I naturally won’t enforce it if there are no laws. As long as there are laws, this sheriff will enforce them, including the employer sanctions.

Arpaio sounds a lot like a “decider who decides things.” Unfortunately for Arpaio, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice have taken on a new tone of accountability. Last month, Secretary Napolitano issued a directive ordering an internal review of multiple immigration enforcement initiatives within DHS. And last week, the Government Accountability Office issued a report criticizing the 287(g) provision which DHS has “failed to develop key internal controls over.”

Hopefully, the Department of Justice’s investigation will make it clear to Arpaio that people have had enough of racial profiling and discrimination in the name of immigration enforcement.

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