Today, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas appeared in a press conference blasting the new interim county attorney, Rick Romley, for requiring verification that the undocumented immigrants that Arpaio arrests and then charges with smuggling themselves over the border are actually in the country illegally.
Arpaio recently arrested 32 undocumented on suspicion of smuggling themselves into the country. Apparently, before Thomas stepped down to run for Attorney General, it would’ve been general practice to prosecute those immigrants with a felony for being “co-conspirators” in their own smuggling without requiring verification of their illegal status before a case was filed. If found guilty, those immigrants would then be jailed for 90 days at the taxpayer’s expense rather than being immediately deported back to their home country. The Phoenix New Times estimates that Romley saved Maricopa County about $212,000 in this case alone by simply turning the 32 suspects over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.
However, Arpaio is furious over the new requirements, stating, “Is he going to request every time that the police arrest someone on a state violation that you have to have documentation?” Thomas responded with a press release reminding the public that requiring documentation is standard and that Arpaio’s and Thomas’ interpretation of Arizona’s smuggling law is unique:
The former County Attorney was the only prosecutor in the state to bring charges of conspiracy to commit human smuggling against the individual paying to be smuggled.
Under the former County Attorney, the Sheriff’s Office wasn’t required to submit certified federal records regarding immigration status of the person arrested before charges were filed.
Records from Federal Authorities are required in order to prove immigration status at trial.
Watch KTVK 3TV’s coverage of the press conference:
Two independent reports by the East Valley Tribune and the Goldwater Institute show that Arpaio’s immigration-enforcement crusade has contributed to a huge county budget deficit and that crime rates have actually escalated as Arpaio has failed to arrest top smugglers and criminals.