Last week, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio cited a federal law which allows him to determine if someone is an “illegal” based on their clothing, speech, and conduct. However, Matt Bunk of the Arizona Capitol Times points out that no such language exists in any federal immigration law and that the document that Arpaio continuously referenced and passed out at a press conference is actually a legal analysis published by a designated hate group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is conducting an investigation into allegations of racial profiling and civil rights abuses on behalf of Arpaio’s deputies who have been empowered to enforce immigration law on the streets of Maricopa County by virtue of the 287(g) agreement they have with federal immigration authorities. When the Department of Homeland Security handed Arpaio a new contract that will only allow his agency to check the immigration status of jail inmates, Arpaio defiantly pledged to continue going after immigrants just as he’s always done and cited a federal law which he claimed justified the controversial tactics his deputies employ.
But Bunk was puzzled when Arpaio passed out a copy of Section 8, USC 1324 which stated that “evasive, nervous, or erratic behavior; dress or speech indicating foreign citizenship; and presence in an area known to contain a concentration of illegal aliens” should help officers determine whether a person is in the country illegally. However, there isn’t any citation of that text in the actual US federal code. The language Arpaio cites is present in a document posted by a hate group which explicitly warns that it is only an analysis of federal law and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice.
Arpaio initially told Bunk that the document he disseminated was an actual copy of US code which the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency had confirmed as valid. When pressed, Arpaio admitted that the document might not be part of federal law. Nonetheless, he insisted that it doesn’t make a difference whether the text he cites is law or analysis:
“I thought it was a law. I don’t know what you call it. I still think there’s a federal law out there that gives me the authority to do this, I might not have the right one, but there is one out there. When they [ICE] won’t take them, I’ll take them to Border Patrol. So let’s see what happens now. How can you tell Border Patrol that you can’t take them? If mine are illegal and they don’t take them, are they going to take the other ones that they find?”
Arpaio still believes there’s a law somewhere out there that allows him to “detain an individual for a brief warrantless interrogation.” His next immigrant “crime sweep” is scheduled for later this week.