Despite the ruling this week that temporarily suspended the most controversial parts of Arizona’s new immigration-enforcement laws, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has no intention of slowing his efforts to find illegal immigrants and smuggling operations. Under the aegis of previously-existing state laws, Arpaio has already committed to an enthusiastic approach to immigration law enforcement, regularly conducting sweeps and busting stash houses. The setback in federal court has hardly dampened his spirits, as CBS News reports:
Lost in the hoopla over Arizona’s immigration law is the fact that state and local authorities for years have been doing their own aggressive crackdowns in the busiest illegal gateway into the country.
Nowhere in the U.S. is local enforcement more present than in metropolitan Phoenix, where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio routinely carries out sweeps, some in Hispanic neighborhoods, to arrest illegal immigrants. The tactics have made him the undisputed poster boy for local immigration enforcement and the anger that so many authorities feel about the issue. …
In addition to Arpaio’s crackdowns, other efforts include a steady stream of busts by the state and local police of stash houses where smugglers hide illegal immigrants. The state attorney general has taken a money-wiring company to civil court on allegations that smugglers used their service to move money to Mexico. And a county south of Phoenix has its sheriff’s deputies patrol dangerous smuggling corridors.
The legislature passed the law in part because other law-enforcement agencies didn’t show as much enthusiasm as Arpaio. The law required police and sheriffs to investigate immigration status when reasonable suspicion of illegality arose during “lawful contact” on other potential violations or criminal acts. It also allows individual citizens to sue when they have evidence that their law-enforcement agencies are neglecting that requirement. That’s why some of the police chiefs and sheriffs opposed the bill when it was in the legislature.
Otherwise, Arizona has a rather robust set of laws in place already to allow these agencies to follow Arpaio’s lead. The Obama administration has already expressed its displeasure with Arpaio’s efforts by decertifying his department with DHS, but Maricopa County has simply shifted those efforts towards the state laws. The policy serves a few purposes: it demonstrates a lack of federal effort in Arizona, the continuing need for enforcement, and it gets Arpaio on the news … which Arpaio doesn’t mind at all, and neither do his Maricopa County constituents.
Speaking of a lack of federal response, the cavalry isn’t coming as initially promised, the White House admits:
Arizona National Guard troops won’t be in position to enforce U.S. border laws by Aug. 1, guard officials said.
The department of Homeland Security and Defense announced 10 days ago more than 500 troops would help with border interdiction by Aug 1.
It isn’t known when any troops will be deployed to enforce border security, a National Guard spokesman told The Arizona Republic.
“We won’t have any units deployed by Aug. 1,” said Lt. Valentine Castillo, a public affairs officer. “We don’t yet know when troops will actually arrive.”
In other words, it’s only words coming from Washington on border security for Arizona — a situation that certainly predates this administration, and explains why Arpaio is so enthusiastic about his work.