In Major Blow To Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Federal Government Cancels Scores Of Deportations In Arizona


Carlos and Sandra Figueroa with their children (Credit:

Carlos and Sandra Figueroa with their children (Credit:

Christmas came early in Arizona as the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency stated that it would drop the deportation proceedings against dozens of people, the New America Media reported on Monday. The decision for ICE to exercise prosecutorial discretion for these immigrants living in one of the most anti-immigrant states shows not only its commitment to stop the deportation of low-priority undocumented immigrants, but its close scrutiny of arrests made by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The news was an unexpected joy to Carlos and Sandra Figueroa, who have been in deportation proceedings since 2009. The couple was picked up after ICE raided the car wash where they worked. The incident occurred in Maricopa County where Sheriff Arpaio and a television crew were on hand to document the capture. The Figueroa’s nine-year old daughter Katherine witnessed the event on live television. She later told immigration advocates that she started to cry. “I was waiting for them to come home again and that wasn’t going to happen that day,” she said. “I found out on the TV.”

ICE’s decision to close deportation cases in Arizona highlights its shift away from Arpaio’s racial profiling tactics which arrests people based on suspicion instead of solid proof. Partially because of limited resources, ICE indicated that it will focus on removing criminal immigrants instead of low-priority cases. Other federal officials have rejected Arpaio’s tactics. In June, a federal judge ruled for Arpaio’s office to temporarily suspend immigration enforcement because his patrol officers profiled against Hispanics. Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) also sued the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) for racial profiling.

Meanwhile, Arpaio’s office stuck to its proverbial guns. Arpaio issued a statement to The Arizona Republic, “If the Obama administration wishes to permit convicted felons who are legal residents of another country to take up residence in the United States…that is the U.S. government’s decision to make.”