Sheriff says no federal teeth to state's "show me your papers' enforcement

Sheriff Mascher

Sheriff Mascher

In the wake of a decision by a judge to allow enforcement of the "show me your papers" portion of Arizona's SB 1070, police department officials said they are working up policies related to the law.

The decision last week by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton means that police are required to check the citizenship of anyone they encounter, while enforcing other laws, whom they believe may be in the country illegally. Often called the "show me your papers" provision of the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, it had been held up in legal proceedings.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that three of the four portions of the law could not be put into effect, but that it would likely be possible to enact Section 2(B) without violating rights, despite arguments raised by the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, among others, that it would lead to racial profiling.

Last week, Bolton said because the Supreme Court had ruled that the section "cannot be challenged further on its face before the law takes effect," she would lift an injunction stopping it. In other words, those who oppose it will have to file a lawsuit alleging that SB 1070 actually led to a specific instance of racial profiling.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday again turned down a new request for an injunction on the grounds that the law would inevitably lead to racial profiling, refusing to put it on hold, even temporarily.

Immediately after the ruling in June, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rescinded agreements it had with law enforcement, including the YCSO, to allow specially trained officers to determine if a person is the U.S. illegally and then hold them pending deportation.

But, Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher said, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has continued to support the program, known as 287(g), at the Yavapai County jail, although not for deputies in the field.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio claimed ICE officers last Thursday refused to pick up two illegal immigrants his deputies were holding. An ICE spokeswoman said in a statement that MCSO was told to contact the Border Patrol, which is the "primary DHS agency" dealing with border crossers in the area.

Mascher acknowledged that, to some extent, Arpaio's complaint is valid.

"If we make a traffic stop (and find the driver is here illegally), ICE may not want to come take custody of that suspect," he said, and that "frustrates the deputies who are just trying to enforce state law."

There have been other cases of ICE not taking action, Mascher said, almost always because the reason deputies apprehended the suspects was not a serious crime. He gave the example of a cleaning service that accidentally set off an alarm in an office. Deputies arrived, found they were, indeed, an authorized cleaning crew, but that one or more of the crewmembers were here illegally.

"ICE said, "No, we're not going to come get them,'" he recounted.

Mascher said, in his experience, ICE does deport suspects involved with criminal activities, particularly narcotics trafficking.

He said the state law was created because the federal government is not doing enough to stop illegal immigration, but now, with ICE refusing to take custody of some suspects, the effect of the law is diluted.

"It bothers me," he said, that illegal aliens are already breaking the law, but ICE is seemingly willing to act only if what his deputies find them doing is a crime.

"You have the authority, the jurisdiction on immigration crimes," he said. "But the federal government is not enforcing (the law)."

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