In an act of solidarity with the immigrant community, National Action Network’s Reverend Al Sharpton and ACORN‘s Chief Organizer and CEO, Bertha Lewis called for Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s resignation and an end to racial profiling on a national media call today. Never one to miss the national spotlight, Sheriff Arpaio is currently the focus of a Department of Justice investigation for abuses of the 287(g) program, “alleged patterns of discriminatory police practices, and discrimination based on a person’s national origin.” Rev. Al Sharpton charged Sheriff Arpaio with egregious civil and human rights violations:
I am calling for an end to the civil and human rights violations being committed in Maricopa County, the termination of the 287(g) program through which local agencies can enforce Federal immigration laws, and the immediate resignation of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The egregious nature of Arpaio’s abuses, marking him as the Bull Connor of the 21st Century, demands nothing less.
The 287(g) program consists of a partnership between local police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which gives police the power to enforce immigration laws. Sheriff Arpaio, whose actions have been described as a “reign of terror,” has drawn criticism from all over the country for staging publicity stunts in the name of immigration enforcement—requiring detainees to wear pink underwear, segregating inmates, and most recently, marching shackled inmates to a tent city surrounded by an electric fence. But what has everyone’s underwear in a twist is the racial profiling that leads to inmates’ arrest. Arpaio has been accused of “using minor traffic violations as an excuse to conduct invasive questions regarding citizenship status.” An unsatisfactory answer wins a 10-day detention for citizens and non-citzens alike.
House Judiciary Chair John Conyers said it best when he handed over a petition to the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security signed by more than 38,000 Arizona residents calling for an investigation of Arpaio:
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, is no more racial profiling!
And the African-American community isn’t the only group speaking out against Arpaio. Last week, Arpaio’s own Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted to postpone the acceptance of $1.6 million in supplemental funding from the state that would help pay for Sheriff Arpaio’s controversial enforcement tactics. ACORN’s Bertha Lewis is also demanding justice and accountability:
We are sending an important message to Sheriff Arpaio and everyone who seeks to scapegoat communities of color. By forging unity between the African-American and Latino civil rights movements and the immigrants’ rights movement, communities of color will act in solidarity in defense of our rights and demand justice in every corner of this great nation.
While taking up the immigration mantle today, ACORN and Sharpton are sending a crucial message—immigration is not just a Hispanic, Asian or African issue—it’s an everybody issue. Enforcement officers can’t determine immigration status by looking at skin color and when you discriminate against one person, be they busyboys, dishwashers or doctors, you discriminate against us all. As Rev. Al Sharpton articulated on today’s call:
We need to stop comparing disparities and start finding solutions. It is imperative for the African American community to stand together with the Latino community and for the Latino community to stand with the Asian community. You cannot have human rights for some—we need it for all. We must stand together with all our brothers and sisters against this national outrage.
Photo by cobalt123.