Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beware of "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act"

I mentioned in an earlier post about Arpaio citing a fake law to justify his actions, that the anti-immigrant movement has been citing fake statistics such as the number of "Americans" killed each year (or day) by undocumented immigrants. Then I'm doing reading on Russell Pearce's newish efforts for legislation and see this statistic I discussed in a post long ago (Fake Death Statistics Prompt Anti-Immigrant Event). So the statistic is that 25 Americans are killed each day, and Russell Pearce wrote:
9,000 Americans killed each year, 25 each day, 12 by stabbings and shootings, 13 by DUI and related crimes (Congressional Report; Drawing a Line in the Sand).
I'm going to look further into this, but check out my earlier post for more information on the source of the stat.

Meanwhile, review this. It is very important to know what we're up against...
1. Illegal Sanctuary Policies: Eliminates ALL sanctuary cities in this state and allows legal citizens the right to sue their government for violating this law.

2. Trespass: Makes entering or remaining in Arizona in violation of federal law a state crime and “allows” law enforcement to arrest them on trespass violation or just call ICE to take them and deport them. (law enforcement’s choice). This allows them to hold those that are being investigated for serious crimes and not have deported before the investigation is completed.

3. Employers Sanctions: Tightens up our Fair and Legal Employment Act and gives an additional ability to enforce the Nations Toughest Employers Sanctions Law, with a civil subpoena power for County Attorney and AG with the courts for the proper checks and balances.

4. Day Laborer Enforcement: Makes it illegal for an illegal alien to solicit work (day laborers) and makes a misdemeanor for anyone with a license to do business in Arizona to pick up any day laborer without filling out a employment application. Makes it a state crime to aid, harbor, conceal transport or attempt to aid, harbor, conceal or transport an illegal alien for work with a mandatory impoundment of their vehicle under 28-3511 for 30 days. Also with mandatory $1000 fine per illegal alien being transported.

Closing our borders is a must, however it must be coupled with interior enforcement. Attrition by enforcement. Strict enforcement. It is time to renew our efforts to end ALL sanctuary policies in our states and our nation: Require officials to fully enforce federal immigration laws of the United States. NO MORE TAXPAYER BENEFITS OF ANY KIND, No Amnesty, No retreat, No surrender. We will take back America one state at a time. It starts here!!!!! Read more...)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Racial Profiling Focus is Distraction

I have become convinced that the focus on racial profiling is a distraction to the detriment of migrants' freedom. I am not saying racial profiling is okay, but it implies that what is wrong is that people who are being stopped because of their skin color (or other physical cues) are innocent, implying that those who have broken immigration law are not those worth our concerns. Yet, i would hope that those who claim to be allies or advocates for undocumented immigrants would not allow this idea to be promoted.

Okay get this. Anti-Arpaio folks are so focused on these sweeps and the racial profiling and all that, yet only 6% of the arrests of undocumented immigrants occur out in the community, whereas the other 94% of migrants are identified for deportation when they go through the jails (and the folks in the jails are those arrested by the various police departments in the valley) (Source). (This is partly why DHS is continuing the agreements of 287(g) that involve jail checks.) Other police departments are arresting more migrants than the MCSO without these hyped-up "crime supression sweeps", as i discussed further in If Phx and Mesa PD are arresting more immigrants, why is focus on Arpaio?

Clearly, if we are concerned about migrants, we would be focused on the various police departments' arrests, on the jail checks, and on the legislation Pearce is trying to push, as well as on the federal laws. If it weren't for the federal laws, there wouldn't be arrests and deportations of migrants.

Overall, the lefty migrants' rights movement is unwilling to oppose the federal laws, and is therefore limited to using the available laws to advocate for migrants. When the justice department and the fbi announced their investigations of Arpaio, many activists jumped on the opportunity to bring Arpaio down. Yet they are obviously limited to what is already against the law. "The Civil Rights Division has an open and ongoing investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office into alleged patterns or practices of discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures, and on allegations of national origin discrimination. As part of that investigation, we had observers on the ground in Arizona last week." (Source). Ignoring that the federal government is oppressing the migrants just as much, incidents of racial profiling and perhaps other things were reported to the feds.

When we look to the federal government to protect us (or others) from the local government (or anyone), we are confined to the law. If detaining migrants is legal, but racial profiling is illegal, then we document the racial profiling and hand over the videos to the feds, hoping something will come of it. The problem is, much of the injustices against migrants are perfectly legal.

In a lot of ways Arpaio is a clown, a decoy, distracting everyone's attention away from everything else that's going on. (Unfortunately because i'm not an investigative journalist, i rely on what the other media covers and so i end up focusing on these things as well). He's waving his arms, saying "look over here!", creating stunts and various media circus tricks, saying shocking things, and meanwhile his antics are not even accomplishing much at all. That is the funny thing about it. Sure, the sweeps might be terrorizing people, but he's not arresting all that many people, like i mentioned earlier. Meanwhile families are getting torn apart, people are having their dignity, health, and safety ripped away by other police departments, ICE/border patrol, the private detention centers. (I discuss this further in Federal Government Will Not be Maricopa County's Savior).

And so while folks are waiting for the federal government to save the day, they mustn't question the immigration laws or the enforcers themselves. I discussed this back in April in Racial Profiling Discussion Undermines Solidarity with Immigrants when Al Sharpton and a representative of ACORN were on the Lou Dobbs show discussing racial profiling.

The problem is that the way it's being discussed constructs a hierarchy in which people who are not "illegal" are the unintended targets who do not deserve to be stopped, while undocumented migrants are the correct targets of the racial profiling sweeps. Unfortunately, it is difficult to characterize commentators' position on the issue, and to separate media interpretation from advocates' stances. Additionally, racial profiling is often not defined, nor is it explained why it is wrong.

The ACLU defines racial profiling in this way:
"Racial Profiling" refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual's race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. Criminal profiling, generally, as practiced by police, is the reliance on a group of characteristics they believe to be associated with crime. Examples of racial profiling are the use of race to determine which drivers to stop for minor traffic violations (commonly referred to as "driving while black or brown"), or the use of race to determine which pedestrians to search for illegal contraband.
The idea here is that one should not be suspected of a crime because of how they look, but if one has committed a crime, the way they are caught should not be by appearance. However, one could argue that those who are guilty of a crime should be caught no matter the means. Frankly, there are people who would make themselves out to be advocates for migrants when in fact they do not want to question the law, and therefore do not openly oppose the arrests of migrants under any conditions, involving racial profiling or not.

While some may say that this racial profiling is only wrong when it catches legal residents and citizens up in its net, others may say that what is wrong is for officers to investigate someone's citizenship status just because of the way they look- that a person who is undocumented should have the benefit of the doubt like everyone else. Yet the immigration laws themselves are rarely questioned. Some might state that the offense is only a misdemeanor and therefore should not be treated like worse crimes, yet hardly anyone says that movement should not be a crime.

The racial profiling issue is a big one right now, which is why i bring this up again (i discussed it earlier here and here). Stephen Lemons is writing an interesting series in the Phoenix New Times about legal residents and citizens getting arrested by MCSO during the racial profiling (and workplace raids). There was a great video put out called Arpaio's Reign of Terror. And just recently Arpaio has gotten a lot of media coverage for his statements on their ability to continue to enforce immigration law.

Arpaio recently has had to defend his immigration enforcement after having his 287(g) status limited by the feds. He has cited nonexistent laws to justify continuing his targeting of migrants. In addition, he has said that there are ways his officers can identify undocumented immigrants: "There are certain criteria. No identification, looking like they just came from Mexico, and they admit it. So that's enough." (Source).

He also denied and admitted to racial profiling on another show.
SANCHEZ: You just said you detain people who haven’t committed a crime — how do you prove they they’re not illegal?

ARPAIO: It has to do with their conduct, what type of clothes they’re wearing, their speech, they admit it, they may have phony IDs. A lot of variables are involved.

SANCHEZ: You judge people and arrest them based on their speech and the clothes they’re wearing sir?

ARPAIO: No, when they’re in the vehicle with someone who has committed a crime. We have the right to talk to those people. When they admit that they are here illegally we take action…the federal law specifies the speech, the clothes, the environment, the erratic behavior. It’s right in the law.

By the way, the law he is referencing might either be the nonexistent law he cited earlier this week, or an old ICE manual, which is not law and doesn't apply to officers in the field because their jurisdiction under 287(g) has been restricted.

As part of Arpaio's defense, this was included in yesterday's press release:
Some of the indicators listed in the attached ICE training manual are:
(1) does the detainee have a thick accent or not comprehend English;
(2) whether the individual had identification;
(3) is the location of the stop a known illegal alien locale;
(4) is the detainee’s appearance unusual or out of place in the specific locale;
(5) does the detainee appear to be in transit or recently traveling;
(6) did the detainee’s demeanor (i.e., “freeze or take flight” when first spotted by
the officer;
(7) did the vehicle seem overcrowded or ride heavily; and
(8) did the passengers in the vehicle slouch down, slump or attempt to avoid being
detected in the vehicle. (Source).
But as the Feathered Bastard quoted an ACLU lawyer as pointing out, this ICE manual is not law, nor is it relevant to the MCSO's duties on the streets since they no longer have auhtority under 287(g), and this manual is from 2005.

Racial profiling is a problem. And it is positive that shedding light on this blatant injustice shows that Arpaio is a hypocrite.

Okay, so say we stop the racial profiling. What then? Are we done or do we move on to the injustices that are sanctioned by the government? What if we start on those now instead of getting distracted by Arpaio's antics?

Arpaio's New Tool is a Joke

What a joke. Sheriff Arpaio had been hyping a "new tool" that he would use to counter those who document/videotape the stops during the immigration sweeps. Specifically it was said that this new tool would be used by "his deputies to overcome safety and security concerns of deputies being videotaped and interfered with during the course of their duties." (Source.) We were waiting to see what it would be. Something to block the camera? Arrests of observers? What would it be?

Well, the first day of the sweeps last weekend, we found out. MCSO is countering the videotaping by videotaping themselves! Bam! Take that copwatchers!

Seriously, this is really the "new tool". According to their press release that day,
Starting today, Sheriff’s deputies will utilize special teams to video tape deputies’ contact with the public to preserve an accurate account of any incident and to assist deputies during law enforcement operations.
The Sheriff stated that he understands and respects citizen’s first amendment rights. However, he also understands those rights need to be balanced by the possibility of danger to his deputies when they are distracted by these agitators approaching while they are trying to focus on their already difficult duties.

I, along with others I've talked to, suspect that they may have had a different "new tool" but realized it was unconstitutional, and so they came out with this really silly solution to their "safety and security concerns". In what way exactly does having an officer (or posse member?) videotape officers solve their concerns about officers getting videotaped and allegedly interfered with? How does it balance the possibility of danger to deputies when they are distracted by "agitators"?

This partially explains their logic:
"I too will now have people videotaping our deputies," he said. "We won't edit the tape the way they do." (Source).

This seems to be the only specific reason they've given for doing this; that they won't edit the tape. Yeah, the problem is the editing. Because the people who put their footage on youtube (seen here) edited out the parts in which the cops were nice. Right.

This really doesn't address what is implied by their reference of safety and security concerns. In fact, there really were no safety and security concerns in the legal sense. Copwatchers stay a safe distance away, the officers know what we're doing, there is absolutely no interference except when an officer himself chooses to interfere with his own investigation by going to harass the observers. As I have pointed out in the past, the officers themselves cause most of the problems they wish to blame copwatchers for. And I find it interesting that they are putting officers (or posse members) in charge of filming each stop- which means that person filming is not out there arresting people.

Overall, the filming by MCSO of MCSO is good news to copwatchers. We are out there partly to gain footage that can be used to stop the harassment of migrants, the racial profiling, and any other abuses, but mostly to prevent it. It is possible that the additional cameras around will help to accomplish this. We have no illusions that the MCSO would allow any of their footage to be used against them, however. Therefore we will continue to do what we've been doing.

Friday, October 16, 2009

FAIR Lies Blow up in Arpaio's Face

The anti-immigrant movement is known for its lies used to convince the general public that immigrants are a problem. I figured at some point an official of some sort would take one of the lies at face value, such as the made up statistic about how many americans get killed by undocumented immigrants. You gotta love it that this official ended up being Sheriff Arpaio.

Sheriff Joe's bungle reveals that he wants to enforce immigration law- he says its his duty- yet he doesn't even know the law. He has to have someone find some fake law on an anti-immigrant website. Clearly his sense of duty is not what he makes it out to be- it is a political position he has chosen to take.

Arpaio's 287(g) agreement with DHS has expired as of midnight last night. He has said that he still has the authority to do what he has been doing for a couple years: having the trained deputies ask about immigration status during stops and handling suspected undocumented immigrants until they end up in ICE custody. Specifically, his officers do saturated patrols often called "sweeps" in certain areas where many latinos reside, during which people will get pulled over for minor traffic violations or even made-up crimes and asked about their immigration status. As I write this, there is a sweep going on way out in Surprise today- a way of flipping the bird at the federal government and all those hoping that the end of 287(g) would mean the end of these sweeps.

The Feathered Bastard reported on the fake law that Arpaio was citing:
In Joe Arpaio's press conference last week, and since then on several news shows, the sheriff has insisted there is a law in the federal code that allows him to continue his anti-immigrant sweeps without his 287(g) field authority. This is the power stripped from him recently by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, while leaving his jails agreement in limbo.

Indeed, during that press conference, when asked what federal law allowed him to continue the sweeps, he told a reporter, "I'll give you the section, I'll even give you a copy of it, if you want." Reporters were then given handouts with bogus and misleading information, apparently copied -- in part -- from extremist nativist Web sites.
Accompanying the fake law was some additional text, and interpretation of the law that was made to look like part of the law. The Feathered Bastard wrote that "the text seems to be from a document on the Web site of the Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Control, a nativist organization in Darien, Connecticut, which refers to an illegal immigration "invasion" and has "Welcome to MexAmerica" on its home page. The online doc itself says it was prepared by another anti-illegal group, Americans for Legal Immigration". The Arizona Republic says that "the interpretation actually originated on the Federation for American Immigration Reform Web site".

Further, they report:
Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for FAIR, verified that the language cited in Arpaio's document originated from a legal interpretation the group published in 1999.

The Arpaio document cites a provision of Title 8 of the federal code followed by language that says "state and local law-enforcement officials have the general power to investigate and arrest violators of federal immigration statutes without prior INS knowledge or approval, as long as they are authorized to do so by state law."

It also states that "evasive, nervous, or erratic behavior; dress or speech indicating foreign citizenship; and presence in an area known to contain a concentration of illegal aliens" can be used to constitute reasonable suspicions someone is in the country illegally.
Arpaio discussed this alleged law and the characteristics that indicate that someone might be "illegal" on various national television shows such as the Glenn Beck show (the law is discussed at about 4 minutes in on this video).

Despite the fact that he also continues to insist that he doesn't need the federal law to enable him to make arrests of undocumented immigrants (because he can enforce state law such as the human smuggling law which he also uses to get migrants charged with conspiracy) his press people have acknowledged that the law he was citing was not actually real, and is now saying that a federal harboring law gives him the authority to enforce immigration law. The law enables Arpaio's officers to make arrests in cases in which someone is suspected of harboring undocumented immigrants. This is still pretty limiting and certainly doesn't allow officers to pull people over for cracked windshields to check their immigration status.

The whole thing is pretty funny considering that FAIR has somehow maintained a fairly good reputation and political position as part of the anti-immigrant movement, despite the fact that they have been linked to various hate groups and are in fact called a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

This also reminds me of the story i covered in OOPS! Racist AZ politician "accidently" sent out article from National Alliance.