Friends, there are some things that cannot go unchallenged. They are affronts to human dignity and to what it means to live in America.
Yesterday one of those things happened in Maricopa County, Arizona, the mega-county that contains Phoenix. In a move that smacks of the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo Bay and that harks back to the days of the chain gang in the South, the Sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, is clustering 200 undocumented inmates of the County Jail in their own special tent city. The tent city is surrounded by an electric fence, further bringing home the treatment of human being as chattel. The Phoenix New Times has a compelling story detailing yesterdays outrage.
We cannot let this stand. We are circulating a petition that asks Congressman John Conyers, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, to hold hearings into this latest outrage and the long history of abuse carried out by Sheriff Arpaio.
What makes this move especially troubling is the Sheriff’s determination to expand his tent city to accommodate up to 2500 prisoners, an indication of the scope of his determination to continue his devastating policies of racial profiling, retaliatory arrests aimed at silencing critics, and forced family separation.
These actions are an affront to anyone who cares about human rights and are the logical outcome of a police state mentality that sees the only solution to our immigration challenge coming at the end of a gun.
Therefore, we at ACORN, through our Arizona ACORN members, are taking a stand against this action and the on-going immigration enforcement policies of the Sheriff that have resulted not just in this indefensible move, but in widespread human rights abuses of American citizens and our immigrant cousins.
We are following the lead of community leaders like AZ ACORN Board Member Alicia Russell who said, “This march is an extremely callous and inhumane move, aimed directly at degrading undocumented immigrants. In claiming to justify this action as a way to improve ‘budget savings,’ Arpaio is degrading these immigrants, violating their civil rights, and overreaching his jurisdiction”, the entire Maricopa County town of Guadalupe, and Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability (MCSA) who recently staged a “Death of Democracy” funeral procession protesting the Sheriff’s actions.
We are answering the call of local leaders like Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon who has demanded a federal probe into Arpaio’s recent crime sweeps in Hispanic neighborhoods using tactics that are tantamount to racial-profiling and reflect poorly on all Arizonans, regardless of their ethnic heritage. We are answering the call of Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, who said, “We treat people equally in America. I think it’s wrong.”
Even the conservative Goldwater Institute calls Apraio’s policies “ineffective” in a report released in December. “[He] has diverted resources away from basic law-enforcement functions to highly publicized immigration sweeps, which are ineffective in policing illegal immigration and in reducing crime generally[.]”
Help us take a stand by asking Rep. Conyers to lead an investigation into these tactics. America needs to stand for justice under the law, not the law of “just us”.
Follow Bertha Lewis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@TheBlackInst