Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sheriff Joe Gets A Clean Bill Of Health?

For months various media outlets and political organizations have levied serious accusations against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, so even I was convinced that the federal audit would uncover clear evidence that he engaged in the systematic discrimination against and abuse of Hispanic inmates. But, surprisingly the Department Of Justice gave Mr. Arpaio a favorable audit. I am increasingly led to believe that the real story is the politicization of the Department of Justice under Holder and Obama. That is, the Obama Administration has become increasingly selective on which laws they choose to enforce. Those who object to our current immigration laws should partake in the marketplace of ideas and the democratic process rather than erode the rule of law through system non-enforcement as seen in the Obama Administration's support of sanctuary cities or in the case of the State of Arizona, the intimidation of localities who actively enforce them. In response to this general criticism, Tracy Schmaler, the spokeswoman for Attorney General Eric Holder stated:

"There is a big difference between a state or locality saying they are not going to use their resources to enforce a federal law, as so-called sanctuary cities have done, and a state passing its own immigration policy that actively interferes with federal law...that’s what Arizona did in this case.”

But, Lamar Smith (R-TX), the author of the 1996 federal law that requires states and localities to cooperate says the administration is misreading it, and says drawing a distinction between sanctuary cities and Arizona is “flimsy justification” for suing the state." Even those who object to Mr. Arpaio and other enforcement zealots must admit that they are on the side of the rule of law. And their uncompromising commitment to the enforcement of the the law is forcing the American People to look at and debate the true, human impact of our current immigration laws. And if in the course of the democratic process, the American people and their representatives must first determine the merits of a final amnesty and then of striking down the existing laws.
Until that day comes, the Obama Administration must aid all officials and localities in the enforcement of the law, no matter how unfavorably they view them.

SEPTEMBER 24, 2010

Arizona Sheriff Arpaio Gets Favorable Audit


A federal audit gave favorable grades to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for his treatment of inmates, amid a Justice Department probe into possible discrimination by the Arizona lawman against Hispanic inmates.

Mr. Arpaio's lawyer said the audit grades from the U.S. Marshals Service show the sheriff runs a clean operation and underscore his contention that the probe is politically motivated.

The Justice Department said in a statement that its investigation "pertains to allegations of discrimination in jails and police practices that are not covered by the Marshals Service review."

Mr. Arpaio has gained a national reputation as an anti-illegal immigration firebrand, using his local agency to round up undocumented immigrants and turn them over to federal officials for deportation. The 18-month Justice probe has looked into how he treats jail inmates and whether he discriminates against Hispanics.

Hispanic and civil-liberties groups have criticized practices of Mr. Arpaio, such as using tents to house detainees and dressing them in pink uniforms.

The Marshals Service conducted routine inspections of jail facilities operated by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in September 2009 and again recently. Those inspections, separate from the Justice civil-rights probe, were done as part of agreements under which the Maricopa sheriff houses some of the Marshals Service's federal prisoners.

Mr. Arpaio's department polices much of the suburban region outside of Phoenix.

In the inspections, the Marshals Service gave Mr. Arpaio's facility "compliant" grades, the highest mark, in all major categories, according to the September 2009 inspection reports. In another series of inspections this month, the Maricopa County jails received the same grades, Marshals Service spokesman Thomas Henman said.

In particular, the Maricopa County facilities received "compliant" ratings related to prevention of discrimination against detainees, according to the 2009 reports.

The inspections cover everything from the cleanliness of kitchens and showers to health care for inmates and security. "This deputy was impressed with the overall facility operation and cleanliness," read one passage in the September 2009 reports.

Mr. Arpaio's lawyers have cited similar high marks received after 2008 inspections by investigators from the Department of Homeland Security to argue that the Justice Department's probe of Mr. Arpaio is without merit.

Robert Driscoll, a lawyer for Mr. Arpaio, said: "These reports are just further evidence that the DOJ's Civil Rights Division has gone rogue, to the point of ignoring the findings of federal law enforcement and other components of the DOJ itself, in its politically motivated pursuit of the sheriff."

One U.S. official said the Marshals' inspections are "check-box" reviews that aren't intended to be as in-depth as the continuing civil-rights investigation, which the Justice Department has said is looking at patterns or practices.

The Justice Department began its probe of Mr. Arpaio in March 2009, and since then the two sides have been at odds for months over his cooperation. In a lawsuit filed earlier this month seeking to compel Mr. Arpaio to turn over documents and allow visits by investigators, Justice Department lawyers said they were probing "alleged national origin discrimination in [Maricopa] police practices and jail operations."

The legal tussles over Mr. Arpaio's policing practicescome as the Obama administration and Arizona's state government battle over immigration enforcement.

The Justice Department sued the state in July seeking to block enforcement of a new state law that required local police to check the immigration status of people stopped for other possible violations. President Barack Obama said the state law could lead to civil-rights violations.

A federal judge has suspended the most controversial parts of the Arizona law based on the Justice Department's argument that it would infringe on federal immigration powers.

Write to Evan Perez at

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