Photo: DHS Suspends Maricopa Counties Secure Communities Program
After a three-year investigation into the abusive practices of Sherriff Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office (MCSO), the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced today that it had found a pattern and practice of civil rights abuses, including extreme cases of racial profiling. The enormity of the violations, the majority of which were experienced by immigrants and Latinos, has led the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to suspend its cooperation agreement (under section 287(g)) with the sheriff’s office and restrict the MCSO’s access to immigration databases through the Secure Communities program.
Secretary Napolitano issued the following statement in response to the DOJ announcement:
“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is troubled by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) findings of discriminatory policing practices within the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). Discrimination undermines law enforcement and erodes the public trust. DHS will not be a party to such practices. Accordingly, and effective immediately, DHS is terminating MCSO’s 287(g) jail model agreement and is restricting the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office access to the Secure Communities program. DHS will utilize federal resources for the purpose of identifying and detaining those individuals who meet U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) immigration enforcement priorities. The Department will continue to enforce federal immigration laws in Maricopa County in smart, effective ways that focus our resources on criminal aliens, recent border crossers, repeat and egregious immigration law violators and employers who knowingly hire illegal labor.”
The DOJ has requested a response from Maricopa County and writes “If MCSO is not interested or if we deem that MCSO is not engaged in good-faith efforts to achieve compliance by voluntary means, we are prepared to file a civil action to compel compliance.”