Over the past 24 hours, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio has appeared on several major news networks groaning about his curtailed power to enforce immigration laws and denying allegations of racial profiling which many believe are the reason federal immigration authorities decided to present him with a new agreement which limits his authority. However, in a CNN interview with Rick Sanchez this afternoon, Arpaio revealed that his deputies are in fact arresting people based on the way they look:
SANCHEZ: You just said you detain people who haven’t committed a crime — how do you prove they they’re not illegal?
ARPAIO: It has to do with their conduct, what type of clothes they’re wearing, their speech, they admit it, they may have phony IDs. A lot of variables are involved.
SANCHEZ: You judge people and arrest them based on their speech and the clothes they’re wearing sir?
ARPAIO: No, when they’re in the vehicle with someone who has committed a crime. We have the right to talk to those people. When they admit that they are here illegally we take action…the federal law specifies the speech, the clothes, the environment, the erratic behavior. It’s right in the law.
Arpaio insists that his deputies do not employ racial profiling. The 2,700 lawsuits collecting dust on Arpaio’s desk seem to suggest otherwise. Complaints of discrimination finally mounted to the point where the Department of Justice had to intervene and open up an investigation of Arpaio’s immigration enforcement tactics which the Sheriff has refused to cooperate with. Arpaio probably won’t be receiving any awards from the Obama administration, but he has acquired a few neo-Nazi fans.
The Department of Homeland Security ordered the standardization and review of all agreements between local police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement after the Government Accountability Office released a report showing that many local police are using their authority to deport immigrants stopped for minor violations such as speeding. Arpaio’s new agreement with ICE will only allow him to scan the immigration status of his inmates. While Arpaio is already acting as if his new agreement is a done deal, ICE head John Morton has yet to officially sign off.