Friday, December 16, 2011

Feds Kick Joe Arpaio Out of Immigration Enforcement Program

Kicking out America's most popular sheriff would seem to be a bit of an "own goal" for the Obama admin.

Hours after the release of a Justice Department report that said that Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio fueled a culture of anti-Latino bias in his office, the Department of Homeland Security said it was kicking him out of an immigration enforcement program.

Secretary Janet Napolitano said Thursday the department is ending an agreement with the Maricopa County sheriff's office that allowed trained deputies to enforce immigration laws.

It's also restricting the office's use of the Secure Communities program, which uses fingerprints collected in local jails to identify undocumented immigrants.

Napolitano's announcement came shortly after the Justice Department released a scathing report accusing Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his office of committing a wide range of civil rights violations against Latinos.

The report, which includes findings from a three-year investigation by the federal agency, says the Arizona sheriff's office engaged in a pattern of racial profiling and discrimination, and carried out heavy-handed immigration patrols based on racially charged citizen complaints

The Justice Department's conclusions in the civil probe mark the federal government's harshest rebuke of a national political fixture who has risen to prominence for his immigration crackdowns and became coveted endorsement among candidates in the GOP presidential field.

Arpaio has prided himself on being as unceasingly tough on crime and pushing the bounds of how far local police can go to confront illegal immigration. He has been a hero to conservatives who prefer a tough approach to illegal immigration, and a worst-case scenario symbol for immigration advocates who oppose the trend of local officials enforcing immigration laws.

“Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s blatant disregard for the rule of law is nothing short of appalling,” said Dan Werner, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Sadly, though, the Department of Justice’s findings of serious constitutional violations are not surprising given his celebrity status among those who have been peddling and successfully passing unconstitutional anti-immigrant laws in several states.”

Apart from the civil rights probe, a federal grand jury also has been investigating Arpaio's office on criminal abuse-of-power allegations since at least December 2009 and is specifically examining the investigative work of the sheriff's anti-public corruption squad.

The civil rights report said federal authorities will continue to investigate complaints of deputies using excessive force against Latinos, whether the sheriff's immigration efforts damage trust with the Hispanic community and a large number of sex-crimes cases that were assigned to the agency but weren't followed up on or investigated at all.

The civil rights said Latinos are four to nine times more likely to be stopped in traffic stops in Maricopa County than non-Latinos and that the agency's immigration policies treat Latinos as if they are all in the country illegally.

Arpaio, the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America, has long denied the racial profiling allegation, saying people are stopped if deputies have probable cause to believe they have committed crimes and that deputies later find many of them are undocumented immigrants.

A review done as part of the investigation found that 20 percent of traffic reports handled by Arpaio's immigrant-smuggling squad from March 2006 to March 2009 were stops -- almost all involving Latino drivers -- that were done without reasonable suspicion. The squad's stops rarely led to smuggling arrests.

Meanwhile, calls for Arpaio's removal from office have grown louder in recent weeks.

On Wednesday, roughly 100 opponents of Arpaio turned out at a meeting of Maricopa County officials to urge the officials to call for his resignation amid reports of botched sex-crime investigations and other problems in his department.

Critics of Arpaio say he must be forced out for failing to adequately investigate more than 400 sex-crimes cases in the county, inappropriately spending $103 million from two jail funds over an eight-year period for other operations and leading failed corruption investigations against county officials who were at odds with the sheriff.

The Board of Supervisors didn't act on the request to put a resolution calling for Arpaio's resignation on its January agenda. The board has budgetary authority over the sheriff, but doesn't have the power to fire Arpaio, who has refused recent calls for him to quit and still plans to seek a sixth term next year.

The board's lack of power to fire Arpaio didn't stop the sheriff's critics from heaping on the criticism, nor did it stop a smaller number of Arpaio supporters from speaking up for him.

"What is your threshold for injustice?" asked Chad Snow, chairman of Citizens for a Better Arizona, a group that led the recall effort against former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce and recently launched a campaign to get other elected officials to voice their opposition to the sheriff.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Jerry Sheridan said the Arpaio critics are seeking his resignation based on misleading information about the sex-crimes cases and that the sheriff acted immediately to have 30 detectives investigate the cases after the problems surfaced.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva and two Democratic state legislators have called for Arpaio's resignation. Arpaio's re-election committee has said the calls for the sheriff's resignation are Democrats who are opposed the sheriff's immigration enforcement tactics.

Last week, U.S. Sen. John McCain and Jon Kyl said they were concerned about reports of the botched cases, though they didn't ask for the sheriff to quit. Arizona's two U.S. senators are Republicans, like Arpaio.

Linda Herrera, one of the Arpaio critics who called for his resignation, said the sheriff has been allowed to commit his abuses because elected officials haven't been able to stop him or decided to ignore him.

"We are all responsible for what is going on in Maricopa County," Herrera said.

Anna Gaines, an Arpaio supporter who launched an unsuccessful 2008 recall effort against Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, said the sheriff is responding to crimes committed by some undocumented immigrants when they come to the United States. She said undocumented immigrants steal people's identities so they can work in the United States, don't pay their share of taxes and use government benefits that are meant for U.S. citizens.

"It's not the sheriff's fault they came here illegally," Gaines said.


Cheap Labor as Cultural Exchange

A Look at the State Department's Summer Work Travel Program

WASHINGTON (December 15, 2011) – Earlier this month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered an “extensive and thorough review” of the State Department’s troubled Summer Work Travel (SWT) program, which every year brings more than 100,000 college students from around the world to fill low-wage seasonal jobs in the United States. That followed last summer's protests by students working at a Hershey Co. warehouse in Pennsylvania that garnered worldwide attention.

Today, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) begins online publication of a four-day investigative series on the program. The report, “Cheap Labor as Cultural Exchange: The $100 Million Work Travel Industry”, is based on five months of reporting by CIS senior research fellow and Pulitzer Prize-winning former journalist Jerry Kammer. It is online here

The series tells the story of the SWT program’s rapid growth over the past 15 years into a $100 million international industry that has spread around the globe. SWT is emblematic of a larger problem with the nation’s immigration system, where new programs are created and allowed to expand significantly without giving careful consideration to their impact on the labor market or the larger American society.

Also being released today is “Declining Summer Employment Among American Youths” by CIS Director of Research Steven Camarota. The report finds that fewer than half of native-born Americans ages 16 to 24 worked in the summer of 2011, down from nearly two-thirds in 2000. This decline began long before the current recession and very little of it can be ascribed to summer school or internships. Competition from foreign workers, both permanent and temporary (including through the SWT program), accounts for a significant share of this decline.

The past year has been particularly turbulent for SWT. When the State Department issued new regulations in the spring, it acknowledged that some sponsors were neglecting their duties and that the existing regulations “do not sufficiently protect national security interests, the Department’s reputation, and the health, safety and welfare of Summer Work Travel program participants.” In short, the program had been infected by many abuses, leaving some participants defrauded and allowing others to be recruited by organized crime or strip club owners.

Last summer, Stanley Colvin, the State Department official who long directed SWT and other exchange programs, was quietly replaced. Then the Hershey protest brought global notoriety to the program. In November, the State Department, which had long promoted expansion of the program around the world, announced a freeze on participants at the 2011 level of 103,000. Then came Secretary Clinton’s call for an internal investigation.

Kammer, a former investigative reporter, tells the story of the State Department’s inability to establish proper management of SWT despite years of criticism by the Government Accountability Office and State’s own Inspector General.

Here is a day-by-day preview:

TODAY: The story of SWT’s role in international diplomacy and of the intense, sophisticated, and lucrative recruitment both of the students whose fees fuel the industry and the employers who provide the jobs.

DAY TWO: The story of young Americans displaced by SWT, which uses international job fairs to line up summer workers months in advance. A second story tells of the culture clash at Hershey, where the legend of a benevolent chocolate baron met the harsh reality of SWT.

DAY THREE: The story of SWT in Alaska, where some 2,000 'cultural exchange' workers take jobs that used to be magnets for American college students, including 1969 Wellesley graduate Hillary Rodham, now overseeing SWT as Secretary of State.

DAY FOUR: The story of the State Department’s long history of mismanagement of SWT, including its indifference to its effects on American workers. Included is an interview with Rick Ruth, the State Department’s new man in charge of SWT.

The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076. Email: Contact: Bryan Griffith, 202-466-8185,

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution which examines the impact of immigration on the United States. The Center for Immigration Studies is not affiliated with any other organization

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