Category Archives: Press (Arizona)

Joe Arpaio Racial-Profiling Trial Draws Protestors’ Calls for Justice on Opening Day (Phoenix New Times)

Joe Arpaio Racial-Profiling Trial Draws Protestors’ Calls for Justice on Opening Day

By Jason Lewis

Dozens of protestors converged on the Sandra Day O’Connor federal courthouse today to monitor the opening proceedings of the ACLU’s racial-profiling lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his office.

Melendres v. Arpaio, filed about four years ago, is a class-action lawsuit that includes plaintiffs alleging civil-rights violations committed by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

“We do want to see that this justice system finds [Arpaio] guilty of abusing his powers as sheriff of Maricopa County,” Promise Arizona executive director Petra Falcon says.

Falcon doesn’t believe that Arpaio is untouchable.

She cited the disbarment of former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and the recall of former state Senate President Russell Pearce as proof that public officials who abuse their power can be removed one way or another.

“That’s why we’re here,” Falcon says. “I do think that justice will be served.”

Members of the human-rights group Puente Arizona brought two undocumented members of their group out to the forefront of their demonstration. They proudly revealed their names for all media in attendance.

“I’ve been living in fear for a couple of years now with Arpaio’s raids,” Puente member Natally Cruz says. “My family has suffered from it. I think it’s enough. You’re not going to scare us anymore. We’re tired of it, and we’re undocumented and unafraid.”

Less than a handful of pro-Arpaio protestors — three from what we saw — came out to support their beloved sheriff for a short time.

One pro-Arpaio protestor — hoisting a stopthebias.org picket sign — declined to speak with New Times

There was a brief exchange of words between a couple of members of Puente and two of the three Arpaio protestors who showed up, but it quickly died down as the two Arpaio apologists left the area.

Puente Arizona and Promise for Arizona will be back in full-force on Tuesday, when Arpaio is set to take the witness stand.

The 'Arizonification' of the US immigration debate (Guardian)

The ‘Arizonification’ of the US immigration debate
However the supreme court rules on Arizona’s SB1070, the real racial-profiling problem is President Obama’s deportation policy
by Sarahi Uribe
Friday 27 April 2012 11.03 EDT

Maria Leyba, of Phoenix, protests against Arizona’s SB1070 illegal immigration law, during the US supreme court hearing on 25 April 2012. Photograph: Matt York/AP

While many focused on the US supreme court’s consideration of Arizona’s SB1070 on Wednesday, events on the streets of Phoenix and not in the court, foreshadow the future of the country’s immigration debate. Within the supreme court, a very narrow legal principle was discussed – as to whether Arizona was infringing on the federal government’s right to set immigration policy. In Phoenix, hundreds of demonstrators were clear about what was really at stake in the high court: a negative decision would clearly worsen Arizona’s human rights crisis, but even a positive ruling would not solve it.

The simple fact is that SB1070 is merely a symptom of a far greater problem in Arizona where anti-immigrant sentiment has been used as an excuse to codify racism. Despite its repugnant stated intent to wage a war of attrition against immigrants, SB1070 at its core suggests that people who aren’t white have a lesser right to be an American. It’s a view that is spreading throughout the country, and it’s a view that is threatening our proudest tradition as a nation of immigrants.

In Phoenix, this Wednesday hundreds gathered for a march that was led by a child carrying a banner that read La Lucha Sigue (“The Struggle Continues”). The march made stops at a number of key sites that represent the human rights crisis, including the downtown courthouse and notably the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) offices, the agency responsible for deporting more than 1 million people under the Obama administration. The march ended when nine protestors occupied the street in front of ICE and unfurled a banner demanding the federal government stop the deportations. Their message was clear: whether it’s state-sponsored hate bills like SB1070 or the federal government’s own deportation policies, immigrant communities across the country will resist and indeed break unjust laws that criminalize and separate communities.

So, while pundits in Washington, DC sought to gain political advantage from the narrow debate about SB1070, people in Arizona mobilized to hold both parties, and the country, accountable. Before SB1070 was passed, the Latino and immigrant community in Arizona was already facing mass deportations, egregious racial profiling, and state-sanctioned terror. This happened not because of SB1070, but rather through federal deportation programs like the “Secure Communities” program, a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s immigration policy. As the Orwellian character of its name implies, “Secure Communities” actually makes people like me, a Latina with immigrant parents, feel insecure, and makes our communities less safe.

The events in Phoenix made two things clear: if the US supreme court sides with the overtly racist Arizona law, it will lead to more robust organizing among the Latino and immigrant community – and surely more acts of civil disobedience like the one this week. It will further prove that there’s an obvious gap between what is legal and what is just. Even if the court rules favorably toward the federal government, immigrant communities in Arizona and elsewhere will continue to urge the Obama administration to put an end to the deportation policies that have led to the “Arizonification” of the rest of the country. As the banner in this week’s march foreshadowed, “La lucha sigue.”

Joe Arpaio's office misused up to $64 million, Maricopa County says (The Arizona Republic)

Joe Arpaio’s office misused
up to $64 million, Maricopa
County says

by Yvonne Wingett – Sept. 22, 2010 11:15 AM
The Arizona Republic

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors
will have to use the general fund to repay as
much as $64 million that county officials
said Wednesday the Sheriff’s Office misused
from a fund for jail operations.

The county’s Office of Management and
Budget on Wednesday unveiled its first
evidence of misuse of public funds by the
Sheriff’s Office, presenting key findings to
the board after hundreds of hours of staff
research.

Officials reviewed findings involving sheriff’s
purchasing-cards, the detention fund, cash
handling and extradition and travel policies,
County Manager David Smith said.

The detailed review of spending by the
county found stays in Puerto Rico and Belize
charged to county credit cards, and unusual
expenditures like first-class airfare
upgrades, stays at luxury hotels and
$2,215.48 spent at the Disneyworld Yacht
Club Resort.

“We have hundreds of dollars spent at
resorts, including room service … in what
appear to be leisurely activities,” said Lee
Ann Bohn, a deputy budget director.

The findings mirror those of an Arizona
Republic
investigation earlier this year into
Sheriff’s Office credit-card use.

According to some financial records, Bohn
said, training trips to Honduras by 10
Sheriff’s Office employees in July 2007 and
October 2007 cost $91,000 in salaries,
overtime, benefits and airfare.

Other major findings by county budget
officials substantiated that the Sheriff’s
Office tapped the jail-operations fund to pay
for functions not allowed under jail-fund
rules, such as salaries for deputies who
worked on public-corruption investigations
into county supervisors and judges.

Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson told
the board the county gathered business
cards left by deputies working Arpaio’s
corruption task force and discovered they
were being paid with detention funds.

County human-resources data, information
from a racial-profiling lawsuit and other
documents show many Sheriff’s Office
employees were not working in the same job
assignments recorded for them in county
records.

Wilson said the Sheriff’s Office kept a
separate set of personnel books detailing
actual work assignments. Those

assignments are different than information
kept on the county’s official human-
resources records.

“They actually kept a shadow system,” she
alleged. Wilson also asserted that the
Sheriff’s Office annually has spent at least
$16 million from the detention fund
inappropriately. The problem could stretch
back at least four years, she said, and could
cost as much as $64 million, possibly more
depending on how long the problem existed.

That money comes from a general sales tax
approved by voters. Its use is restricted to
spending on jail items such as food,
detention officers’ salaries and equipment

“That means there is a state law, and a voter-
protected funding source being violated,
and remedies will have to be taken,” Smith
said. “Is it $60 (million), is it $70 (million) . . .
is it more? That is the most serious issue.”

Wilson said budget officials needed more
records and more cooperation from sheriff’s
officials to determine the extent of the
problem.

Supervisor Andy Kunasek said he believed
the Sheriff’s Office needed an audit of the
fund. The agency over the last year has
resisted at least five audits of their books.

Sheriff’s officials also were alleged to have
misused jail-enhancement funds, backfilling
the account using general fund dollars that
are less restrictive, Bohn said.
“Should we be getting a freeze exemption
approval before processing the (purchase
order)?” one Sheriff’s e-mail said. “This
could be something sensitive that shouldn’t
go through the county.”

Arizona IS America: Federal Immigration Enforcement Policies and Human Rights (Care2)

Arizona IS America: Federal Immigration Enforcement Policies and Human Rights

by Tara Tidwell Cullen

The harshest immigration law on the books in the United States, Arizona’s State Bill 1070, has attracted national attention because it threatens to encourage racial profiling and opens the door for civil rights violations. President Obama has denounced the law, saying it is “misguided” and threatens “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.” [NOTE: Late reports are that the administration will file suit against the Arizona law; we’ll have more on this tomorrow.] But even as Obama and his administration condemn SB 1070, they continue to expand federal programs such as 287(g) and Secure Communities, which would enforce similar policies across the country.

Two Tough Policies

The 287(g) program trains local police officers to enforce federal immigration laws and initiate deportation proceedings against undocumented immigrants. Secure Communities allows the federal government to use fingerprints to check the immigration status of anyone who is processed by a local police department. In both programs, men, women, and children can be turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement before they are even charged with a crime. As a result, immigrant communities have lost trust in the police, and the immigration detention and court system is flooded with the cases of nearly 400,000 immigrants per year facing deportation.

Despite rhetoric from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton that their enforcement initiatives target “criminal aliens,” a study from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse found that fewer  than half of the men, women, and children detained by ICE in 2009 had any criminal history. In Illinois, the National Immigrant Justice Center represents hundreds of immigrants detained and facing deportation from the United States every year.  In one recent month, we tracked the stories behind  the 288 people who,  placed into ICE custody, asked for our help.

Twenty percent of them  had no police record greater than a traffic offense or one DUI.  Among them was a father of three U.S. citizen children who had lived in the United States for 30 years with no criminal history when he was arrested for driving in a bike lane on his way to work. Another man was traveling to work with a group of co-workers when the Illinois State Police stopped their van and asked everyone inside about their immigration status.  The police did not issue a ticket or charge anyone in the car with an offense, but they did turn everyone over to ICE.

As ICE has expanded its enforcement programs, it has refused to ensure immigrant access to legal counsel and humane treatment. To accommodate the growing detention population, up 64 percent since 2005, ICE transfers detainees to isolated jails far from their families, often hundreds of miles from cities where they could find legal counsel. Without a lawyer, detainees are more likely to suffer human rights abuses and, because of the complexity of immigration law, can find it nearly impossible to adequately prepare their case for a fair day in court.

A Legal Double Standard

Here is where a crucial difference between U.S. immigration law and the criminal justice system comes into play: While non-citizens facing deportation have a right to be represented by counsel, they do not have access to court-appointed lawyers. Men, women, and children in ICE custody must locate and hire lawyers on their own Legal counsel is expensive, especially when detained and unable to work.  There are

other obstacles too: physical isolation, language barriers, and broken telephones.

Tragic Stories

One man who suffers from diabetes and asthma was held for five years at a detention facility in Oakdale, Louisiana, before he was able to find legal counsel by contacting the National Immigrant Justice Center. The 562-bed Oakdale facility is located more than 100 miles from New Orleans or Baton Rouge, where Louisiana’s five lawyers who represent detained immigrants struggle to meet the needs of even a fraction of the 2,300 immigrants detained in the state. The National Immigrant Justice Center lawyers, based in Chicago, had to advocate for their client from afar this spring when Oakdale’s medical staff refused to allow him to see a doctor when he suffered an episode of serious respiratory failure. This kind of incident is not uncommon in the sprawling immigration detention system: At least 112 people have died in ICE custody since 2003, and most of those deaths have been attributed to alleged neglect on the part of detention facility medical staff.

The man who has been suffering in Oakdale and the men who were detained during traffic stops on their way to work pose no threat to our communities*.  We shouldn’t spend taxpayer money to lock them up – at an average cost of $95 per person per day – in a system that endangers their health and human rights. If the government continues to expand programs like 287(g) and Secure Communities without oversight    to hold police officers and detention facility staff accountable, none of this will stop any time soon.

U.S. Efforts to Fight Illegal Immigration Divide Some Local Communities (FOX News)

“D.C. Council members Phil Mendelson and Jim Graham are sponsoring a bill that seeks to uphold the city’s policy that local police stay out of immigration enforcement. The legislation is likely to be introduced on May 4, Graham spokesman Brian DeBose said.

Last month, Police Chief Cathy Lanier expressed support for the Secure Communities program, which takes fingerprints when inmates are booked into jail and sends them to ICE and the FBI. A police spokeswoman says the department has not yet implemented the program.

“What happened in D.C. is happening everywhere,” said Sarahi Uribe, the regional organizer for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “No public discourse or accountability.””

Click here to read the whole article.