I have been in San Francisco (thus the picture) for the past few days at a training with the New Organizing Institute. The training was a wonderful experience and I met some amazing people doing very exciting and important work (more on this later). But being away from the blogosphere for even a few days always stresses me out. So much has happened while I’ve been gone. There are a couple of things I want to write full-length posts on, but in the mean time, I’m going to do a quick round up of updates and news.
First things first, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, long time Latino terrorize in Maricopa County, has lost some of his swagger! It was decided that Arpaio is to be stripped of his power to arrest undocumented immigrants in the county. What this actually means is that he can no longer racially profile and target people of a certain skin color. Though Arpaio says that he will continue to conduct raids, this is at least a step in the right direction coming from the Department of Homeland Security. Read more about it here and here.
Next up, this week the Department of Homeland Security announced its plans for reform of the nation’s immigrant detention system. DHS announced its outlines for reform this past Tuesday. And, like I’ve said before, they are certainly a step in the right direction. However, they will not be effective unless they are incorporated into a comprehensive reform of the full immigration system in this country. Kevin Johnson from NILC sums it up nicely here:
The DHS announcement today identifies several of the steps the agency must make to create a “truly civil system” and correctly notes that our current immigration enforcement programs “identify large volumes of aliens with low level convictions or no convictions” who should not be the focus of immigration enforcement efforts. The detention system can’t be viewed in isolation from how immigration enforcement is conducted.
Read more about proposed detention reform here and here.
In other news, Marisa Treviño from Latina Lista reports on the over 3,000 veterans who have fought for a country that won’t even make them citizens. And to repay them? They are now battling deportation. Read her full post here. And also check out the Reform Immigration FOR America blog’s write-up of a new documentary on military families being torn apart of the broken immigration system. Those who risk their lives for our country deserve better – and as Marisa points out they even “deserve extra kudos because their volunteerism runs much deeper than someone who is a citizen.”
Last on the list (which is by no means exhaustive) is a report that was released by the U.N. on Monday. The report’s main finding is simple: migrants contribute much more to their new countries than they take. For more on this check out CAUSA Oregon’s blog and listen to their podcast. So for all of the folks out there who continue to shout about immigrants who are “draining” our country, listen up!
Last week, it was announced that the Department of Homeland Security was signing 11 new local law enforcement agencies onto the program known as 287(g). The program grants local law enforcement agents the authority to enforce federal immigration laws. The destructive program cultivates a culture of fear among immigrants and communities of color, pours resources into the rounding up of immigrants instead of the protection of public safety and has been condemned by everyone from independent think-thanks to the Police Foundation.
So why is DHS continuing this failed program? While the announcement was made alongside the pledge of a long overdue “review” of the program, it is a mistake to expand any failed enforcement program in the absence of satisfactory comprehensive immigration legislation.
Let me be clear, this is the program that gives Sheriff Joe “I don’t have to answer to the DOJ” Arpaio the authority to round up Latinos like cattle and ignore his commitment to the actual protection of the public. This is the program under which Juana Villegas de la Paz was shackled to her hospital bed while giving birth to her child. This is the program that was found to “create a climate of racial profiling and insecurity” by a leading national university.
I am disappointed that the announcement of a review of this program was accompanied by an ill-advised expansion. This, more than anything, points to the need for a FULL OVERHAUL of immigration policy. We cannot continue failed programs in the absence of comprehensive reform.
As an editorial in the NY Times today stated:
Enforcement-only schemes were the rage back when anti-immigrant demagogues were in full roar and Bush officials wanted to show how tough they were. They bring us no closer to an immigration system that works. Mr. Obama promised fresh ideas on immigration reform. So far we don’t see them.
I have been posting for at least a year about the negative impacts of the so-called 287(g) program that allows local police agencies to enforce federal immigration laws. The most notable case of 287(g)’s negative impact on communities is that of Maricopa County and our food friend Joe Arpaio. 287(g) is the program that gives Arpaio the authority to continue his reign of terror in Arizona.
Recently the Police Foundation, a non-partisan Think Tank whose stated goal is “Supporting innovation and improvements in policing“, released a study on local enforcement of federal immigration laws. The result? To be brief: Federal Immigration laws should not be enforced by local police agencies. Period. (Tell us something we don’t already know…)
Some interesting conclusions from the report:
- The costs of participating in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) 287(g) program outweigh the benefits.
- Police officers should be prohibited from arresting and detaining persons to solely investigate immigration status in the absence of probable cause of an independent state criminal law violation.
And my own personal favorite:
- Local law enforcement leaders and policing organizations should place pressure on the federal government to comprehensively improve border security and reform the immigration system, because the federal government’s failure on both issues has had serious consequences in cities and towns throughout the country.
So, let’s go back through the list. Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Alan Greenspan, Rahm Emanuel, the two biggsest Labor Unions in the country, the Faith community, Latino and New American Voters and a majority of the American Public all want immigration reform.
And as for 287(g), none of the conclusions of the report are surprising. Let’s hope the administration listens up, instead of pouring even more money into enforcement.
In 2007, reporters Paul Giblin and Ryan Gabrielson began investigating Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. Their findings (as many of you know) were that Arpaio’s hellbent focus on hunting down undocumented immigrants was detrimental to overall public safety in the county. The five-piece set of articles entitled “Reasonable Doubt” highlighted the racial profiling inherent in Arpaio’s 287(g) campaign.
With the help of an editor, the two exposed slow response times to emergencies and reduced law enforcement as the sheriff dedicated more of his agency’s resources to seeking out and arresting illegal immigrants.
Yesterday, it was announced that the two reporters were awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their work on Sheriff Joe. Meanwhile, Joe himself made an appearance on the Colbert Report. Barely coherent, the nation’s toughest Sheriff bumbled his way through Colbert’s questions and seemed oblivious that the two reporters who had done such a compelling expose of his hypocrisy even existed. Click here to watch the video (I will embed later).
Colbert took it easy on him, since it was clear Arpaio had no real answers to even the simplest questions. Avoiding the truth about Arpaio’s backlogs of warrants, thousands of complaints of racial profiling and egregiously press-hungry efforts to self-publicize, Colbert asked
“How do you determine that someone might be Hispanic without using your eyeballs?…How do you do it? Do you have a secret sixth sense that you’re going to ask for one guy’s ID, and not another?”
Arpaio never gave a clear answer to that question. And though Colbert did ask for his ID, multiple times, it was never really clear whether Arpaio knew he was being mocked.
While I would have loved to see Colbert rip him to shreds, I am at least satisfied with Arpaio’s own attempts to make himself look incompetent. They were effective.
Congratulations to Giblin and Gabrielson for their Pulitzer Prizes, they deserve them for going after a villian like Arpaio. Let’s hope this draws more attention to the injustices facing the immigrant community across the country.
There’s only one thing that’s a bigger threat to our country than bears – and that’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Sheriff Arpaio’s civil rights abuses are unacceptable and you know Joe’s under federal investigation now because we spoke out against his illegal tactics. Well, today Arpaio is skipping out on his duties as Sheriff to go on The Colbert Report. That’s right–he’s going to film a comedy show in New York today – instead of testifying at a Congressional hearing because he doesn’t want it to turn into a “media circus”.
Ha, we can explore the hypocrisy of that later. But for right now we want to make sure Colbert’s producers have all the info they need to expose Joe. Send a letter, “outing” Sheriff Arpaio for the rights-abuser he really is:
In Joe Arpaio’s world, if you are an immigrant detainee, you should be marching in chains to segregated “Tent Cities” in the Arizona desert, surrounded by electric fencing. It’s up to us to shout, “Not so fast, Nation!”
The show is being filmed at 4pm EST today, so please send your email now:
People like you — from all across the country — are speaking out against Arpaio’s blatant civil and human rights violations. We’re taking a stand for justice and “truthiness” in this country.
From our friends at Rights Working Group:
Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Terminate Arpaio’s 287(g) Contract
Support the National Day Laborers Organizing Network’s action to call on Secretary Napolitano to terminate Arpaio’s 287(g) contract.
To call on Secretary Napolitano to terminate Arpaio’s 287(g) agreement, click here.
In recent months, the hard work of many has raised the profile of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the most infamous Sheriff since Bull Connor, as the ugliest face of the failed national 287(g) program. The Sheriff’s march of migrant inmates in a chain gang the New York Times described as “ritual humiliation” revealed the racial profiling and terror he’s carried out on Maricopa County, and made urgent the need for federal intervention.
40,000 people recently signed petitions condemning his actions. 5,000 people marched peacefully in Phoenix on February 28 demanding federal intervention. Our voices have been heard. The Department of Justice formally launched an investigation of Sheriff Arpaio. The GAO has declared the 287(g) program a disaster. And on April 2, the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Congressman Conyers, held hearings revealing the 287(g) program has endangered communities and led to racial profiling on a scale this country has not seen in a generation.
Yet, Sheriff Joe continues to terrorize Maricopa County, taunting the federal government, and daring them to act. We say, “Enough is enough!” President Obama and his Secretary of Homeland Security, former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, need to sever Arpaio’s 287(g) agreement now and restore safety and the rule of law to Maricopa County.
To call on Secretary Napolitano to terminate Arpaio’s 287(g) agreement, click here.
Jackie at America’s Voice is live-blogging the hearing today. Check it out here!
Today, Members of Congress will hear testimony from an extensive list of witnesses on the civil rights implications of the so-called 287(g) program that allows local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law. Recent studies have shown just how damaging this program can be to communities. It is this same law that allows infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio to continue his operations in Maricopa County, Arizona. Let’s hope that isn’t true for much longer.
Below is the full witness list for the hearing:
Julio Cesar Mora
Frederick, Maryland Community Advocate
Reef C. Ivey II Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of Clinical
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law
Operations Director, Advanced Technology Center, Virginia Beach,
Adjunct Professor at Cambridge College, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Professor of Law
University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Chief, Mesa Police department
Professor of Law University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law
Also, watch the hearing live here: http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/calendar.html
We all remember America’s favorite sheriff, Mr. Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. How could we forget the time he marched hundreds of inmates through the streets in chains to a tent city surrounded by electric fences? Or the time he said he was “honored” to be compared to the KKK? Or his many (MANY) accusations of racial profiling?
Lots of you helped by petitioning the Department of Justice to investigate good old Joe and we need your help again. Tomorrow there will be a hearing in Congress to investigate the violations of civil rights under 287(g) (the law that allows Joe and others to locally enforce immigration laws). We want to know – what do you want to ask folks like Sheriff Joe?
What issues do you think are most important for Members of Congress to investigate at the hearing? Is it ending racial profiling? Is it finding the best ways to ensure community safety?
Now is your chance to speak up. Visit http://americasvoiceonline.org/FIRMtoCongress to submit your questions and tell Members of Congress what you think the priority of the investigation should be.
Our partners at America’s Voice will be delivering your suggestions directly to Congress – so make your voice heard! This hearing is an important first step towards leaving behind the Bush enforcement-only era and pushing towards comprehensive immigration reform.
Visit http://americasvoiceonline.org/FIRMtoCongress to make sure Members of Congress are on the right track!
And be sure to tune into the hearing – you can watch live at http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/calendar.html – tomorrow, April 2nd at 10AM EST.
Alright folks, I’ve been away from the blogosphere for a week and a LOT has happened. Most importantly the Department of Justice has finally called for an investigation into Sheriff Joe Arpaio! This comes on the heels of a major action in Arizona, an online petition from America’s Voice and a nation-wide outcry against the antics of Sheriff Joe.
From the AP:
Federal authorities told a high-profile Arizona sheriff Tuesday that they will investigate his department over allegations of discrimination and unconstitutional searches and seizures.
The U.S. Justice Department said in a letter to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio that investigators will focus on alleged patterns of police discrimination based on national origin.
This announcement was made Tuesday and on Wednesday America’s Voice delivered the online petition with over 38,000 signatures supporting the DOJ investigation. Below is a video from the event that features Rep. Nadler, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.
Thanks to everyone who signed the America’s Voice petition and helped in the effort to Bring Joe to Justice!
On Saturday, February 28th, one of FIRM’s lead organizers was on the ground in Phoenix, Arizona, marching alongside thousands of others, demanding justice for immigrants and an end to the authority of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Here is his experience:
We were demanding that Sheriff Arpaio must go and with him the infamous 287(g) agreement, and a stop to the ICE raids. But the march was more than that; it was the people’s way to demand justice and respect for all.
Led by The Natioanl Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON), ACORN: Arizona, Tonatierra, SOMOS America and other key organizations and supporters, Phoenix witnessed a peaceful, well-attended march which began at the Steele Indian School Park.
Over 8 thousand marchers walked 4 miles under in the hot sun; mothers with their small kids in strollers, fathers with their kids, elder folks, men and women, youth, latinos, whites, blacks, people of faith, and workers from different industries. All of these people turned out to show that human rights and immigrant rights are supported by the people of this country. What a show of power it was! On Saturday, our demands to stop the abuses against immigrants and their families were made in a powerful way.
At one point the police wanted to keep us on the sidewalk, away from the streets, but thanks to the hundreds of participants we won the streets! Youth were asking as: “whose streets are these?” And we all just took the streets over. That’s how democracy really works; you push yourself all the way until you get what you want. One more time, a peaceful, but massive demonstration can bring the power to change things.
On Saturday, the sense that immigrant communities were afraid of Sherriff Arpaio was totally shattered. The notion that we can defend and demand our rights was affirmed. The march showed that the people in Phoenix, Arizona and throughout the country are tired of the abuse and impunity of authorities.
We marched, and we will continue to march until we assert our rights in this country. So, Sherriff Arpaio, you should take notice, you have been warned.
Keep reading for a roundup of media coverage of the march.