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Frank Sharry

Frank Sharry

Posted February 13, 2009 | 11:29 AM (EST)

House Judiciary Committee Calls for Federal Investigation of Sheriff Arpaio's Abuses


We couldn't be happier to hear that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee released a letter today calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct a federal investigation of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's enforcement tactics.

Ever since he landed his own reality TV show, we've been arguing for Joe to get the attention he really deserves-- an investigation by the DOJ. Kudos to Chairman Conyers (D-MI), and other members of the House Judiciary Committee, for publicly speaking out against Arpaio's tactics, and for demanding the same.

Their letter begins:

Dear Attorney General Holder and Secretary Napolitano:

We write today concerning allegations of misconduct on the part of Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio that we believe merit federal investigation and action.

In a press statement today, Conyers argues:

"Racial profiling and segregation are simply not acceptable." said Conyers. "Media stunts and braggadocio are no substitute for fair and effective law enforcement."

The Judiciary Committee also asks the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review the agreement that DHS has signed with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which Joe has so roundly abused. Report after report has shown that Sheriff Arpaio regularly engages in racial profiling in Latino neighborhoods. It's part of the reason he has 2,700 lawsuits filed against him.

For his latest publicity stunt, Arpaio paraded immigrant detainees through the streets of Phoenix in order to segregate and relocate them to a "Tent City" surrounded by electric fencing. The 287 (g) agreement gives the Sheriff authority to enforce federal immigration laws, but it does not provide permission to use racial profiling or other tactics that violate an individual's constitutional rights.

It does not give one the right to create mini-Gitmos.

The Joe Arpaio approach to law enforcement is un-American and ineffective -- not to mention expensive. Joe's actions are the perfect example of why local enforcement of federal immigration law is inherently flawed, and they point to the increasing need for comprehensive immigration reform.

Arpaio is a modern day Bull Connor and his publicity-seeking crusades have made the Latino community scared and Maricopa County less safe by prioritizing racial profiling over executing the felony warrants that have piled up on his desk. His most recent scheme, rounding up immigrants and shipping them off to separate "tent cities," is just the latest in a career filled with dangerous and anti-Latino demagoguery.

Thankfully, Chairman Conyers, and other members of the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives, will be able to catalog the range of abuses he has heaped on the residents of Maricopa County and will hopefully bring long-awaited justice against a man who doesn't appear to understand the word.

Cross-posted at AmericasVoiceOnline.org/Blog