New DHS Rules Threaten Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Immigration Enforcement Regime

The Department of Homeland Security recently decided to issue a new set of rules that will force local police who are enforcing immigration laws under the 287g program to focus on arresting immigrants charged with violent and serious crimes (as opposed to those who commit minor offenses). That’s bad news for Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio who’s been known to terrorize and raid immigrant communities for little reason at all.

Last week, Arpaio announced that he refused to cooperate with Department of Justice authorities investigating allegations of racial profiling brought against his police department. Yet, DOJ investigation or not, it now seems that Arpaio’s immigration enforcement days might soon come to an end. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has indicated that local law enforcement officials will no longer be able to pull someone over for a broken tail light and deport them the next day. Instead, they will have to prosecute every crime, or, more formally, “pursue all criminal charges that originally caused the offender to be taken into custody.”

As usual, Sheriff Joe Arpaio thinks it’s all about him, telling a local Phoenix news station:

“I don’t think they like my crime suppression operations. I also feel this is somewhat going toward amnesty…we’ll see if I agree with any changes that they make…You know what, I’ll be doing another crime suppression really soon. You think I’m going to stop? Because of all this heat? I’m not stopping. I’m going to continue to do my job.


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Arpaio also defiantly told the Wall Street Journal, “If I’m told not to enforce immigration law except if the alien is a violent criminal, my answer to that is we are still going to do the same thing, 287g or not.” But Arpaio might not have much of a choice. Napolitano indicated that all law enforcement agencies currently operating under the 287g program have 90 days to review the rules and will have to re-sign an agreement with the Immigration Customs and Enforcement Agency (ICE). Secondly, DHS’ decision has nothing to do with amnesty, rather, its purpose is to make sure local law enforcement officials don’t lose sight of what their main mission should be: keeping communities safe. That’s something Sheriff Arpaio’s office has failed at miserably.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon praised DHS’ decision:

“Todays announcement carries another message for our community. Let me be blunt, this confirms that Homeland Security has taken the concerns about Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s abuses and misallocation of resources seriously. He can no longer hide behind the illusion that breaking up families at car washes and amusement parks is somehow making us safer as a community.”