After last week’s release of the Department of Justice’s three year investigation, seventeen months of which was delayed by Arpaio’s typical stall tactics and outright refusal to cooperate, the Department of Homeland Security pulled the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office 287g certification which allowed them to check the legal status of suspected undocumented Immigrants.
There was some brief celebrating regarding the possibility of Joe Arpaio’s demise, perhaps one similar to the one Russell Pearce fell victim to, the will of the people working together in a concerted effort to remove a political cancer.
As the news developed rapidly many of us in the Immigrant community were met with the false hope that undocumented Immigrants would no longer be detained for processing by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
MCSO’s 287g agreement with the Feds allowed Arpaio’s detention officers to check the legal status of those detained in MCSO’s jails. The myth was that only criminal aliens were run through the Fed legal status verification system, however, even those detained for failure to present proper ID or for minor traffic violations were run through the system and detained for ICE. The damage to the Immigrant community is immeasurable. Families are split up and employers loose valued employees.
However Senator Jon Kyl wasn’t about to stand by and allow harmless Immigrants to be given a break. He immediately shipped a letter out to the Feds complaining about a possible lapse in the screening of Immigrants processed through MCSO’s jails. The Feds always willing to oblige a U.S. senator, and in order to avoid bringing on the wrath of the Republicans and those hell bent on making the Immigrants the scapegoats for this nation’s problems, responded with a letter outlining their plans for closing that void that might have been left by denying Joe Arpaio the 287g certification and access to the secure communities program.
In a detailed letter to Senator Kyle the DHS assured the senator that a gap in coverage due to MCSO losing their 287g certification would not occur. DHS indicated in part:
Although ICE has terminated its 287(g) agreement with MCSO, ICE will continue to advance our immigration enforcement and public safety efforts in Maricopa County. ICE has dedicated 50 federal immigration officers to screen, identify, apprehend, and remove criminal aliens found in the jails of Maricopa County. These ICE officers will perform the work previously conducted by 287(g) officers and will ensure that criminal aliens and other removable public safety threats are not released into the community. These federal officers will have full access to Secure Communities and will continue this work until such time as DOJ is satisfied that MCSO has remedied the unlawful practices outlined in the DOJ report. In short, there will be no gap in immigration enforcement in Maricopa County.
I’m sure that Kyl was thrilled that the good people of Maricopa County would not be at risk of harm from their dishwashers, landscapers, housekeepers and cooks.
Meanwhile families will continue to be separated and you might just find that the sushi or the steak that you love to eat might taste a little different. Well, that’s based on the fact that there’s now a new cook working at your favorite restaurant and the guy who normally cooks your food in that fine food restaurant might have been picked up for a traffic violation and is being held for processing by an ICE officer in Joe’s jails.
Carlos E. Galindo is a radio talk show host & political analyst conducting radio shows in both English and Spanish on four radio stations in Arizona. Mr. Galindo is a weekly contributor to KPFK 98.7 FM Los Angeles and W60 AM Radio, Los Angeles, San Diego and has appeared on CNN, Univision and Telemundo as a political analyst. Mr. Galindo is also an Op-Ed columnist on Prensa Hispana and the Tucson Citizen in Arizona.