Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The obligatory Sherrif Joe post

Via the Arizona Republic and the Wall Street Journal (HT: Justyn Dillingham), word that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office agreement with (federal) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorizing street-level immigration enforcement by the department has ended. Sheriff Joe Arpaio has signed a new agreement with ICE allowing only screening of arrestees and jail inmates.

Arpaio is already blustering about there being no change--"I am free of the Federal Government". According to a second Republic article, Arpaio intends to continue charging undocumented immigrants as conspirators in their own smuggling--this despite Arpaio's deputies having no reason to believe any particular individual without the correct visas has been smuggled. Andrew Thomas's extremely creative interpretation of the state's human smuggling law has been upheld in appeals court but has yet to be tested at the Arizona Supreme Court.

The newspapers have avoided giving details as to why ICE might want Arpaio & Co.'s powers rolled back. (It wouldn't be editorializing, but who cares?--Republic reporters editorialize all the time!) Maricopa County Sheriff's Deputies routinely violate Fourth Amendment guarantees in their immigration enforcement operations. They're not in the "grey area" like the officers in the Evan Lisull chalking case. They're so clearly in the wrong that they could be said to disregard the law.

Consider, for example, the case of Julian and Julio Mora. Julian, a legal resident, and Julio, a U.S. citizen, were driving to Julian's place of work by their usual route. An MCSO car cut out abruptly in front of them; they were arrested and transported to the site of a workplace raid (itself of dubious legality), where they were detained for hours without contact with the outside world. The entire complaint is worth reading. The lack of reasonable suspicion for the preliminary search or probable cause for detention obvious, and the manner of detention will give you chills:
Upon arrival at H.M.I., Plaintiffs observed a scene that resembled a heavily guarded armed camp, with nearly as many uniformed MCSO personnel as detainees. It appeared that all of the employees [emphasis mine] who showed up to work at H.M.I. that morning were being detained. Some of the MCSO deputies were wearing masks over their faces and carrying semiautomatic rifles. Others surrounded H.M.I. employees who had been herded into two long lines for interrogation. Detainees were not provided with any food or water at any point while detained. They were ordered not to use their cell phones to speak with anyone on the outside, nor were they permitted to talk with other employees.

ACLU-AZ counsel Dan Pochoda seems to agree in spirit with the line of thought I presented yesterday:
Exemplary damages are required as punishment and to deter Defendants from repeating these abusive and illegal actions in the future.
The calculus in Sheriff Joe's head--and that of MCSO supervisor Joe Sousa and the other participating officers--should be a weighing of political grandstanding against the prospect of being left indigent (and probably unemployable as peace officers) due to the awarding of damages to those whose rights they violated under color of law.

For a long time I have favored a shall-issue policy for visas, letting the market decide who comes to the U.S. and who stays, and finding the "welfare state" cop-out to be overstated if one actually cares about quantitative information.

But suppose I didn't. Suppose I was a nativist, or someone who preferred that the people I encountered each day were of strictly European descent. Suppose I was someone who held it against undocumented immigrants that they didn't wait in a queue that didn't exist, who recognized that there was no means for them to simply fill out paperwork, wait for processing, and get a visa, and then cited this as a reason for them to never receive visas. Suppose, à la George Squyres's infamous August 2004 LP News article, which seems no longer to be on the Internet, that I considered being an illegal immigrant "prima facie evidence" for rejection of rule of law and was bigoted enough to not look beyond the prima facie and consider whether or not this was corroborated by the pattern of conduct in total.

Suppose that, like Russell Pearce, I thought that "illegal aliens have no rights", in either sense of the term. Suppose, to give the position its most charitable description, I out of peculiar aversion to "outsiders" or peculiar need for homogeneity just didn't like having Mexicans or Mexican-Americans around, wished they'd disappear, and didn't give a damn about their maltreatment.

I still wouldn't support Joe Arpaio's workplace raids and profiling, for no other reason than that his policies are patently unconstitutional and will cost the taxpayer's millions. There must be cheaper ways of actualizing one's bigotry. Regardless of one's position on immigration, to support grandstanding politicians who invite sure-win Fourth Amemdment civil liberties lawsuits is, independently, fiscally irresponsible lunacy.

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