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America’s Voice Commends DOJ for Sheriff Arpaio Investigation

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“Welcome First Step towards Re-establishing Justice”

America’s Voice welcomes the news that controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio will be investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) over his discriminatory and unconstitutional practices targeted at Latinos and immigrants.  If Arpaio follows through on his promises to cooperate, saying “We’ll open our books…We have nothing to hide,” we are confident that investigators will be able to catalog a range of abuses and civil rights violations inflicted on the residents of Maricopa County, AZ.

Below is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“The news of the DOJ investigation is a welcome first step towards re-establishing justice in Maricopa County.  We are confident that the investigation will reveal the Arpaio approach to law enforcement for what it really is – un-American, ineffective, and anti-Latino.  As a result, we expect Arpaio’s authority to check immigration status under the 287(g) program to be terminated.”

“Sheriff Arpaio’s actions have long been the best example of why the federal government needs to take back control of immigration enforcement.  While Arpaio’s abuses are particularly vile, we support Secretary Napolitano’s call for a full review of the 287(g) program and were troubled by the recent GAO report questioning its effectiveness. 

Napolitano’s review should ensure that communities continue to have good relationships with their local police departments, not be scared of them.  The only real solution is enacting immigration reform law that secures our borders, legalizes undocumented workers, and re-establishes a coordinated intergovernmental immigration strategy.  This remains our best path forward to fix a broken system and guard against future abuse.”

Below, please find highlights of the Sheriff’s record, compiled by America’s Voice:

FACT SHEET: Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Notorious Record

Arpaio Paraded Immigrant Detainees through the Streets of Phoenix to Segregate and Relocate them to a “Tent City”

In February 2009, Arpaio rounded up immigrant detainees and forced them to march, shackled, to a segregated “tent city” surrounded by electric fences in the Arizona desert. [Arizona Republic, 2/3/09]

2,700 Lawsuits Filed Against Arpaio

Between 2004 and 2007, 2,700 lawsuits were filed against Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Federal and County Courts – 50 times the number of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston combined. [Phoenix New Times, 6/10/08 and 12/7/07]

Arpaio Prioritizes Immigrant Sweeps Over Serving Felony Arrest Warrants

During an interview by the Arizona Republic, the interviewer pointed out in a question, “You get criticized by local law-enforcement agencies for not serving felony arrest warrants, shirking that responsibility in favor of immigrant sweeps, which requires manpower and other resources. Mayor Phil Gordon says you have created a sanctuary county for felons and that you have “40,000 felony warrants stacked on (your) desk.” Why not go after the “real criminals and actively serve outstanding arrest warrants, which local agencies see as a county obligation and responsibility?” [Arizona Republic, 4/27/08]

Study Finds Arpaio Targets Latinos

The Arizona Republic examined Arpaio’s arrest logs from eight of his notorious and high-profile sweeps. The study “showed that deputies arrested more Latinos than non-Latinos during each of the operations; that even when the patrols were held in mostly White areas, deputies arrested more Latinos than non-Latinos; and that deputies arrested Latinos in greater numbers than non-Latinos following minor traffic violations.” [Arizona Republic, 11/24/08]

Mesa Police Chief: Arpaio’s Approach Hurts Community Safety

Mesa Chief George Gascon thinks “a wedge is being driven between the local police and some immigrant groups. Some law enforcement agencies are wasting limited resources in operations to appease the public’s thirst for action against illegal immigration regardless of the legal or social consequences… If we become a nation in which the local police are the default enforcers of a failing federal immigration policy, the years of trust that police departments have built up in immigrant communities will vanish.” [New York Times, 7/31/08]

Phoenix Mayor Asks US Department of Justice to Investigate Arpaio

The Mayor of Phoenix, Phil Gordon, “wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey asking that the Justice Department’s civil-rights division and the FBI investigate Arpaio’s immigration crackdowns. He alleged that the sweeps included “a pattern and practice of conduct that includes discriminatory harassment, improper stops, searches and arrests.”” [Arizona Republic, 11/24/08]

Members of AZ Legislature Support Mayor’s Call For Federal Probe of Arpaio

According to the AP, some members of the Arizona Legislative Latino Caucus are supportive of “…Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon’s call for a federal probe into…Arpaio’s recent crime sweeps in Hispanic neighborhoods. Lawmakers [said] the sheriff’s tactics are tantamount to racial-profiling and reflect poorly on all Arizonans, regardless of their ethnic heritage.” [AP, 4/18/08]

Arpaio Stages Phony Murder Plot Against Himself, Accused Released for Wrongful Imprisonment, County Pays over $1 million to Settle

In 2004 a man was released from prison after being wrongly accused of plotting to kill Arpaio. Evidence suggested that Arpaio’s office staged the plot and the County agreed to pay over $1 million to settle the case. The County’s insurance policy paid an additional un-released amount. [Phoenix New Times, 10/28/08]

AZ Jewish Leaders Decry Arpaio’s Racial Profiling

According to the East Valley Tribune, AZ area rabbis “…said they found it distressing that „it appears that people are being profiled and detained … on the basis of their race and ethnicity, and that this policy is creating an environment of fear and intimidation” in the community among both legal and illegal immigrants. „We feel that this policy can only lead to the further dehumanization of individuals and groups of individuals in our community”… Arpaio may be acting within the law, they said, but his actions are not consistent with America’s founders “who passionately believed in the value of freedom and justice for all.” [East Valley Tribune, 4/18/08]

Arpaio Advocates Forced Labor

The Washington Post reports that Arpaio favors forcing jailed immigrants to sleep “in tents and feeding them bologna sandwiches,” Arpaio said. [Washington Post, 5/20/06]

Arpaio Proud of Increased Fear in Immigrant Community

“Some undocumented workers say they are afraid to drive because of Arpaio’s crackdown. Others say they are considering leaving the state, which, advocates say, could hurt the economy. Arpaio said that indicates his crackdown, aimed at deterring illegal immigration, is working.” “If you say they are leaving, I have accomplished my mission,” Arpaio said. [Arizona Republic, 10/17/07]

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.