Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, wrote an article in the Huffington Post lauding the Department of Justice filing a lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. The lawsuit alleges civil rights violations resulting from racial profiling, as well as discrimination and abuse of Hispanic residents of Maricopa County.
Certainly, Sheriff Arpaio is a flamboyant proponent of strict immigration enforcement and aggressive crime fighting tactics, so oversight is not necessarily a bad thing. Given the heated political atmosphere of immigration policy on both sides of the issue, it remains to be seen whether the DOJ lawsuit will stand up under scrutiny. It is notable to add that this lawsuit is civil, which has a lower burden of proof, rather than a criminal action. It is also suspect given the ongoing fight between the DOJ and the State of Arizona over SB 1070, the controversial immigration bill.
The confidence Ms. Hincapie expresses for the Department of Justice is surprising, given the ongoing scandal involving this agency over the potentially criminal operation of Fast and Furious gunwalking scheme with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms out of the Phoenix, Arizona field office. It led to the deaths of Brian Terry, a Border Patrol agent, possibly Jaime Zapata, an ICE agent and untold numbers of Mexican citizens at the hands of the criminal cartels allowed to illicitly purchase firearms and cross the border with them in full knowledge of members of both the DOJ and the BATF.
Fast and Furious is not the only scandal rocking the Department of Justice. There are also concerns being raised by citizen groups over the failure to prosecute New Black Panther members for voter intimidation during the 2008 election. Add to this, allegations of selective enforcement of voter fraud and civil rights cases, selective targeting of businesses over the Lacey Act, which governs illegal trafficking of protected plant and animal species and failure to pursue investigation of Wall Street firms in the midst of the economic blowout of 2007 and 2008, do not inspire confidence.
While the National Immigration Law Center proudly gives its mission statement as defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low income immigrants, (especially undocumented immigrants) and their families, ostensibly without regard to color, race or creed, it is notably silent on the issue of prosecution of those involved in the exploitation and trafficking of immigrants, both legal and illegal.
The often horrific suffering at the hands of coyotes smuggling illegal immigrants across the border has been well documented by Border Patrol agents and border state law enforcement departments, though rarely covered in the media. They are exploited through rapes, robberies, kidnappings of family members, left in vehicles to die of thirst and heat or killed if they can’t keep up. Legal immigrants with families remaining in Mexico are also targeted in the same way through their family members.
This does not cover the victimization of American citizens, regardless of color, owning ranches or living in areas where illegal immigration corridors exist. Robberies, burglaries, thefts and murders of American citizens in the path of these corridors are all too frequently forgotten in the efforts of groups involved with immigrant rights. The environmental destruction caused by illegal immigration is rarely mentioned either.
It is here that law enforcement, in this case, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, performs the highest service to its community. Sheriff Arpaio has instituted a vigorous program of targeting those who exploit and victimize those seeking to enter the U.S. The Human Smuggling Unit, along with the Illegal Immigration hotline, has rescued hostages held in drop houses by “coyotes”. Rescued illegal immigrants, such as an unescorted 2 year old girl, crammed into vehicles and targeted businesses involved in furthering their exploitation.
According to their website, 70% of the tips the unit receives are from lawful residents of Hispanic descent. Notable in light of Ms. Hincapie’s allegations of mistrust between Hispanic residents and Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
Law enforcement is frequently caught in the crossfire of opposing political agendas. Even through this firestorm, someone must keep sight of the Rule of Law and stand with those on both sides victimized by the rule of political agendas. Sheriff Arpaio has publicly and vigorously prosecuted those who exploit the victims of this mess, even when it involves his own department. Out of seven of his officers investigated for engaging or facilitating human trafficking, four were cleared and three have been arrested. In 2011, one Sheriff’s Deputy and two detention officers were arrested, based on a tip received by the tip line.
It would be an interesting question to ask Ms. Hincapie whether her organization was as diligent in oversight of their own members. Unfortunately, it seems that the political agenda of continuing border chaos, encouraging selective enforcement of immigration law already on the books and manufacturing a human right to violate the sovereign rights of a country to determine who may lawfully enter its borders will take precedence over the terrible human cost these policies cause.
Given that it’s re-election time for Sheriff Arpaio, I would not be surprised if the law-abiding citizens of Maricopa County, regardless of color, express their confidence by giving him their vote once again. I say this because the Sheriff and his deputies are there in the midst of this horrific suffering, working to stand against the chaos and picking up the broken pieces left behind by political agendas.
Ms. Hincapie, on the other hand, according to her bio, is frequently on national and international lecture tours and engaged in “educating” lawyers and policy makers, far from the victimization occurring at the borders. Does she spend any time educating policy makers south of the US border on improving conditions for their residents to help prevent families from being torn apart by illegal immigration, victimization and exploitation?
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Photo (Credit: AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)