Homeland Security decertifies Arizona sheriff for immigration enforcement

Say, isn’t the primary mission of the Department of Homeland Security to, er, secure the homeland?  Someone needs to remind Janet Napolitano of that mission, which includes enforcing immigration laws, after her agency decertified Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies for acting as ICE agents in that specific mission.  Arpaio’s sin?  He apparently had too much enthusiasm for the job (via USA Today blog On Deadline):

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has stripped Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of his authority to arrest suspected illegal immigrants based solely on their immigration status.

But Arpaio said Tuesday he plans to continue his controversial “crime suppression operations,” despite DHS’s decision to not renew an agreement that would allow the sheriff to continue immigration enforcement on the streets. …

Arpaio said he believes DHS made the changes to stop his “crime suppression operations,” which are saturation patrols in designated areas where deputies would find illegal immigrants by stopping them for traffic infractions and minor violations.

The Department of Justice and other federal agencies are investigating the sheriff’s office on accusations of racial profiling during the crime suppression operations.

In a Pulitzer Prize-winning series published in July 2008, the Tribune found the sheriff’s office’s illegal-immigration sweeps violated federal regulations intended to prevent racial profiling. The five-part series also found that the sweeps diverted resources from core law-enforcement functions, which in some cases caused response times to increase.

The Tribune’s point about resource allocation within the sheriff’s department is well taken — and completely irrelevant.  The DHS does not have the authority to dictate resource allocation of county sheriffs anywhere.  The people of Maricopa County make the determination of whether their sheriff has allocated resources to their liking, not the federal government.  Arpaio stands for election every four years, and so far no challenger has come within 10 points of Arpaio.  If Maricopa County residents are unhappy with Arpaio’s management of resources, they’re not demonstrating it.

If the Maricopa County Sheriff Department violated civil-rights rules, then the Department of Justice has the duty to investigate and to take corrective action.  So far, though, no one has proven anything of the sort — and that still wouldn’t be the jurisdiction of DHS.  Instead of working with Arpaio, whose publicity-seeking manner admittedly makes cooperation somewhat more unlikely on the issue of methods, the DHS instead cut off Maricopa County from assisting DHS from enforcing immigration law, which tends to give an indication of the priority of such enforcement in this administration.

Update: I got an e-mail questioning whether the front-page pic was Arpaio.  Just in case, I’ve substituted another.

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