Arizona’s Sheriff Arpaio rounds up immigrant workers

Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies arrested nine day laborers on Sept. 27 near the Good Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church in the town of Cave Creek, Arizona, north of Phoenix. For more than six years the church has been a safe haven for laborers looking for work. Sheriff Joe Arpaio ordered the arrests after the town passed two new ordinances on Sept. 24 targeting day laborers: one toughens the town’s ban on loitering; the other prohibits cars from stopping on town streets. The new laws are set to take effect on Oct. 24. Arpaio praised the new regulations, but said: “We’re not waiting for the 30 days for these ordinances to be implemented.”

In the Sept. 27 arrests, agents from Arpaio’s Illegal Immigration Interdiction (“Triple I”) Unit stopped two vehicles as they exited the church’s parking lot, one for speeding and the other for a broken taillight, Arpaio said. The drivers were given warnings; the day laborers riding in the vehicles were arrested. No citations were issued. “The drivers were legal, but the passengers were illegal,” said Arpaio. “We’ve been doing this all over the Valley.” (Arizona Republic, Sept. 28; KPHO, Phoenix, Sept. 28)

On Sept. 25, Arpaio announced that his deputies had arrested 34 out-of-status immigrants that day in Maricopa County’s West Valley area. “We’re up to over 730 that we have arrested under that state law that nobody else is enforcing,” Arpaio bragged, referring to a 2005 Arizona law that makes smuggling people a felony. Arpaio claimed that he’s getting a 90% conviction rate. “And my message to all these illegals—stay out of this county,” he said. (KTAR News, Phoenix, Sept. 25) Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies have been trained by ICE to enforce immigration laws; in addition to arresting immigrants under state laws, they have detained more than 4,200 people under federal immigration laws. (KPHO, Sept. 28)

On Sept. 20, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas signed an agreement with Arpaio to cooperate in enforcing a new state law that will impose sanctions on employers who knowingly or intentionally hire undocumented immigrants. Thomas said he chose to partner with Arpaio’s office because of its “track record of enforcing our immigration laws and not caving in to political correctness.” Thomas will assign up to $1 million of the $1.4 million budget that the legislature gave him to enforce the new law to pay for the Sheriff’s Office investigations. (Arizona Republic, Sept. 21)

From Immigration News Briefs, Sept. 30

Maricopa County has recently been the scene of anti-immigrant vigilante terror.

See our last post on the immigrants rights struggle.