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CHART: Arizona Immigration Law Could Lead to Surge in Violent Crime

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio, poster boy for SB 1070, has failed to fight crime in hunt for immigrants

Washington, DC – Today, a federal judge in Arizona will hear a case brought by a Tucson police officer who is seeking to block implementation of Arizona’s controversial new anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, which would force police statewide to adopt the law enforcement approach of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ.  However, a new chart released by America’s Voice Education Fund shows in stark relief that while crime rates are down across the state of Arizona, violent crime has actually increased in Maricopa County, the home of the notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

According to crime figures published by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Arpaio approach is a proven failure at reducing crime.  From 2002 to 2009, the crime rate in Maricopa County increased 58 percent, while the state as a whole averaged a 12 percent decrease. Compare that 58 percent crime increase to other localities of Arizona that did not use the immigrant-targeting approach. In that same time period, Phoenix enjoyed a 14 percent decrease; Tempe, a 26 percent decrease; and Mesa, a 31 percent decrease. 

Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, said, “Sheriff Joe likes to call himself ‘America’s Toughest Sheriff,’ but the numbers prove that he is one of the worst crime fighters in the state of Arizona.  Sadly, responsible law enforcement officials throughout the state are about to have this failure foisted upon them by politicians foaming at the mouth to one-up each other on bashing immigrants.”

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ has become a hero of the anti-immigrant right for his hard-line tactics to enforce immigration law in any way that he sees fit.  During his infamous “crime suppression sweeps” he floods Latino neighborhoods with officers and volunteer members of what he calls his “posse” to stop Latinos for minor infractions such as broken taillights and exceeding the speed limit by a hair so his posse can demand immigration papers.  Those unable to produce them are turned over for detention and deportation. 

Despite the fact that his tactics have been proven to be a failure at reducing crime, the Arpaio model is set to be forced upon all police in the state when the controversial new law, SB 1070, goes into effect later this month.  In total, the Arizona Republic reports that SB 1070 is facing legal challenges “filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, civil rights organizations, clergy groups, a researcher from Washington and a Tucson police officer.”

In addition to his failure at combating violent crime, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning investigation by the East Valley Tribune found that:  “Response times, arrest rates, investigations and other routine police work throughout Maricopa County have suffered over the past two years as Sheriff Joe Arpaio turned his already short-handed and cash-strapped department into an immigration enforcement agency.” Of the many investigations that go unfinished, some are special victims cases involving rape.

And in an April 2010 interview on Larry King Live, Sheriff Arpaio admitted that he arrests “very few” non-Hispanics.  Arpaio justified his admission citing Arizona’s proximity to Mexico, but ignored the fact that non-Hispanics still make up 70% of the state’s population.