Arpaio Interrupts Arizona's 'Breathing Room'

03/30/2011 04:08 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

When the omnibus package of anti-immigration bills proposed by Senate President Russell Pearce failed to pass, commentators suggested that Arizona was ready to take a breath on the immigration debate.

Any breathing room that existed however quickly filled with the hot air and dangerous dramatics of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Until the Department of Justice intervenes in Maricopa County and SB 1070 is repealed across the state, Arizonans will still be holding their breaths.

Sheriff Arpaio sought to up the ante of the tank raid of a rooster farm he performed for Stephen Seagal's sagging ratings last week by announcing Operation Desert Sky.

The Sheriff's operation is a dangerous escalation of the prejudice and violence for which the state has become known. It will spend taxpayer dollars to put 30 pilots into the air and put everyone at risk by arming vigilantes with M-16s and machine guns according to reports.

Salvador Reza of the Puente Movement commented, "With years of evidence piling up against this Sheriff, it is unconscionable that President Obama and the Department of Justice choose to be part of Arpaio's coalition of the willing. At this point, there is little to point toward that would keep one from concluding that Arpaio is acting with the blessing of the Obama Administration in his pursuits."

Reza knows Arpaio's pursuits personally. The Sheriff is responsible for Reza's wrongful arrest in the vicinity of a protest of a different raid in July of last year.

"He has turned away from any purpose of law enforcement and is arming vigilantes to patrol our county in an anti-immigrant witch hunt," continues Reza. "We are organizing for another mass march on April 23rd. The protests that have roiled the state in the past year will continue until Arizonans do not have to suffer under this type of lunacy. "

Chris Newman, Legal Counsel for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, concluded, "I hate to think what else has to happen in Arizona before the Obama administration will intervene."

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