JUSTICE DEPARTMENT CANCELS NEGOTIATIONS WITH SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO’S OFFICE OVER CIVIL RIGHTS ALLEGATIONS

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

The Justice Department says it is canceling negotiations with Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office over civil rights allegations against him — claiming the sheriff refuses to include a court-appointed monitor in the process.

An agency spokeswoman said the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office knew the monitor was “a non-negotiable requirement of a settlement” and that the refusal has led to the cancellation of talks.

The move was expected, with the Justice Department saying Tuesday evening that Arpaio had initially agreed to the monitor, then failed to negotiate “in good faith” by changing his mind that morning.

“We believe that you are wasting time,” the agency said in a letter to Arpaio’s lawyer. “Your tactics have required DOJ to squander valuable time and resources.”

Arpaio, the self-proclaimed America’s toughest sheriff, has said he never agreed to the monitor because that would mean every policy decision would have to be cleared through an observer and would nullify his authority as the elected sheriff.

“I am the constitutionally and legitimately elected sheriff, and I absolutely refuse to surrender my responsibility to the federal government,” Arpaio said, accusing the Obama administration of trying to “strong arm” him.

The Justice Department said both sides met at least once in February and that the letter marks the second time negotiations were called off, which means the agency will go forward with a lawsuit.

Photo: Flickr user barb.howe.

The agency has accused Arpaio’s office of racially profiling Latinos, basing immigration patrols on racially-charged citizen complaints that did not allege crimes and punishing Hispanic jail inmates for speaking Spanish. It also accused the sheriff of having a culture of disregard for basic constitutional rights.

The sheriff’s office has denied allegations of systematic discriminatory policing and told news reporters that it will insist the Justice Department provide facts to prove its allegations.

The agency said a 22-page letter that it sent Arpaio’s office in December provides the facts of the allegations and that giving further information would delay the settlement.

The federal agency said an Arpaio lawyer acknowledged in earlier settlement talks that negotiations would go forward without the Justice Department providing additional information since that information would be necessary only as part of a lawsuit.

The agency also said in Tuesday’s letter that it has found additional information to support its allegation that Arpaio’s office failed to adequately investigate a large number of sex-crimes cases. The Justice Department is seeking an agreement that would require the sheriff’s office to train officers in how to make constitutional traffic stops, collect data on people arrested in traffic stops and reach out to Latinos to ensure them that the department is there to also protect them.

Earlier in the three-year investigation, the agency filed a 2010 lawsuit against the sheriff, alleging that his office refused to fully cooperate with a request for records and access to jails and employees. The case was settled last summer after the sheriff’s office handed over records and gave access to employees and jails.

Read more: FOX NEWS

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WHAT IS THE “SECURE COMMUNITIES” ACT: DON’T MEND IT…END IT!

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Photo courtesy of ICE

Any day now Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will announce a second round of “reforms” to the disgraced “Secure Communitiesdeportation program, S-Comm. And once again, it appears that ICE is more interested in spin than substance. The timing of the announcement–immediately before the DHS Office of Inspector General Report–seems primarily designed to take the pressure off of ICE rather than an honest attempt to address the fundamental flaws of the program.

We’ve been here before. In 2010, ICE tried the same tactic by announcing “reforms” to S-COMM’s predecessor, the 287(g) program to try to save the agency from the embarrassment of that year’s Inspector General report that described the program as an unmitigated disaster.

“Secure Communities” turns local police into defacto agents of deportation, forcing them to enforce unjust immigration laws, inviting racial profiling, and undermining community safety. It’s a program that has been leading to the “Arizonification” of the country, and has placed ICE under fire since it’s start in 2008. The only way forward on S-Comm is termination.

Since its inception, “Secure Communities” has gained fame for outright deception, starting with its very name. And now, after the release of thousands of internal emails and the agency’s own deportation data, there is no longer any doubt that ICE lied to local lawmakers, Congress, and the American public.

So-called “Secure Communities”, “S-Comm” or “In-Secure Communities” as it has been dubbed is the most recent attempt of ICE-DHS to control the immigration “problem”. This anti-immigrant program allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and local law enforcement agencies to share all fingerprints processed at local jails. This mandated sharing occurs regardless of the type of crime and even if the charges are dropped. The inaccurately named program, “Secure Communities” was said to have been initiated to target “level one” criminals (kidnappers, drug dealers, murders), but in practice has been successful in targeting jay-walkers, victims of domestic violence, mentally challenged citizens, and those who do not look “American”.

So why is the Administration holding on to a program that has a very public record of deception? One that law enforcement officers, Governors, cities, and Congressional representatives reject as damaging to public safety. And why is it continuing to operate the program in places like Georgia, with its unconstitutional anti-immigrant hate law, HB 87, while finally suspending it–at least partially–in Alabama and restricting it in Maricopa County? Clearly, this violates common sense. It also demonstrates a distorted sense of priorities.

Janet Napolitano announces record high deportations at ICE headquarters in Washington. Photo: Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

In its blind quest to meet its arbitrary deportation quota of 400,000 people per year, the Obama Administration is driving a wedge between communities and local police, making it more difficult to solve crimes, and turning a blind eye to the fact that people are being placed into deportation through unconstitutional arrests. Civil immigration enforcement above public safety and constitutional protections? Really?

The upcoming announcement will be a significant opportunity for the President to demonstrate leadership on a program that has come to symbolize his broken immigration promises. Will it be business as usual or will the Obama Administration finally abandon their growing legacy of deportation? Will the Obama Administration stop attempting to convince the public that ICE may reform itself, despite every indicator that it’s incapable? Will the Obama Administration embrace the consensus against S-Comm or continue gripping onto the program despite its failure?

The next few days will tell. For the communities that are left to cope with the disasters of the Administration’s draconian immigration enforcement policies, the commitment to break ICE’s hold continues regardless of this month’s announcement. Communities reeling from this growing crisis have already documented the conclusive demand that S-COMM be terminated. Their pledge to restore trust and to break ICE’s hold on their community and the country will only grow stronger.

READ MORE: THE HUFFINGTON POST 

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