A local Phoenix news station reports that Sheriff Joe Arpaio admitted last Saturday that his deputies are suspicious of people “who look like they just came from Mexico.” Arpaio has adamantly denied racial profiling allegations, but at a press conference yesterday morning, Arpaio refused to provide a straight-forward comment on the remarks he made this past weekend. In fact, he became confrontational with the reporter who asked him what someone who “just came from Mexico” looks like:
REPORTER: What does someone who just came from Mexico look like? What are the characteristics? You said it over the weekend.
ARPAIO: I never said the characteristics. Don’t mislead me. Hold on — no — I said we are using the protocol and the indicators that ICE has taught my deputies.
REPORTER: What are the indicators?
ARPAIO: No, I’m not going to talk about this anymore. I said we’re doing this legally. Put that in your camera and just say I said we’re doing it legally.
Arpaio later sent the news station a list of “indicators” his deputies use to determine if someone is an undocumented immigrants. Those indicators include a “thick accent” and riding in an “overcrowded” automobile. On CNN a couple weeks ago, Arpaio cited a nonexistent law which he claimed allowed his deputies to determine if someone is “illegal” by looking at their “clothing, speech, and conduct.” The “law” was actually an anti-immigrant designated hate group’s “legal analysis” of a federal statute that says nothing of the such.
Immigration authorities recently took away Arpaio’s authority to enforce immigration laws on the streets of Maricopa County. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is conducting an investigation into widespread allegations of racial profiling and civil rights abuses on behalf of Arpaio’s deputies. However, Arpaio has vowed to continue his immigration “crime sweeps” and is now calling on the county attorney, a “close political ally,” to give him an “official opinion” as to whether he can continue to enforce federal immigration laws. Arpaio’s other friend, Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce (R) has introduced local legislation to support the Sheriff’s activities. The “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” would allow Arpaio’s deputies to arrest undocumented immigrants under the state’s trespassing statute and bar cities from enacting policies that would prevent them from enforcing federal immigration laws.