Green Eggs And Ham
That's why I was delighted by the news that the Department of Homeland Security had issued a rather mild slapdown on Sheriff Arpaio. His response was totally in character.
The sheriff, Joe Arpaio, whose high-profile sweeps have been cited in the fevered debate over the need for an overhaul of immigration laws, said he had sought a renewed agreement with the Department of Homeland Security to allow both field arrests and immigration checks at his jails. But a high-level department official presented a document a couple of weeks ago allowing only for jail checks, Mr. Arpaio said.
That prompted an angry, rambling outburst from the sheriff Tuesday at a news conference at which he called Homeland Security officials “liars” and vowed to press on with his campaign, using state laws, against illegal immigrants. He said he would drive those caught on the streets to the border if federal officers refused to take them into custody.
Here's the deal. Under a law passed in 1996, local police officials were given the power to make field arrests of those in violation of federal immigration laws and to make immigration checks at the jails. The idea was that local officials could help out the federal government by identifying and detaining those here illegally for the federal government. The justification for this outsourcing was that those caught were the kinds of immigrants the US didn't want or need, violent criminals but that's not exactly how it worked out. Some police departments began conducting their own immigration sweeps, usually on the basis of racial profiling. Sheriff Arpaio's department was part of that thuggery. The Government Accountability Office noticed the abuse:
A report this year by Congress’ watchdog, the Government Accountability Office, found that the program had not been closely supervised and that it had often led to the arrest of minor offenders instead of the criminals it was intended to pursue.
The system that evolved from 287(g) is lousy with such abuse. Just as important, however, is that the system is bone-headed policing as well. Witnesses or victims are not likely to cooperate with the local police if there's a chance they themselves are going to be arrested and deported.
But Sheriff Arpaio doesn't care. He sees the program as a "crime deterrent" because some immigrants are leaving Arizona on their own:
“It has to do with public perception,” he said, noting reports that some illegal immigrants are leaving the area in part because of his deputies. “I think the bad guys apparently are leaving because they know they are here illegally. This is a crime deterrent program, too.”
There you have it: illegal immigrants are "bad guys."