This afternoon the United States Attorney’s Office announced via a press release (PDF) that it was closing the criminal investigation against Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio, known for using racial profiling against Latinos in conjunction with federal immigration enforcement programs like 287(g), was under investigation for quite some time by the Department of Justice which was seeking to monitor his department. The push to monitor his office was related to allegations of unfairly targeting Latinos in traffic stops in order to enforce low priority immigration offenses while allowing the investigations of sexual assaults in the county to grow cold.
As I argued when the investigation was announced last spring, there is no one monitoring the Department of Justice when it comes to prosecuting the unjustified deaths of people at the hands of U.S. Border Patrol. The announcement came at a time when the Obama administration was struggling to regain an ounce of credibility within the Latino community and the immigration advocacy community in the face of rising deportation numbers.
With the Supreme Court case against SB1070 in Arizona done and generally forgotten and with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals dominating the work of most pro-migrant non-profit organizations, the decision coming on the eve of the Democratic National Convention can be taken as additional proof that the current administration is playing a shell game when it comes to immigration policy. Over and over we are told that things are changing, memos and press statements are released but enforcement programs that criminalize whole communities are still the priority and the hallmark of Obama’s immigration policy.
Tomorrow, the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice national delegation of undocumented people and allies that left Phoenix, Arizona on the anniversary of the state’s implementation of SB1070 is scheduled to arrive in Charlotte, North Carolina, the site of this year’s DNC. The riders, undocumented people from all over the country and their allies, including mothers, fathers, day laborers, people in deportation proceedings, students, and many others have crossed 10 states and stopped in 15+ cities. They will be entering a place similar to Maricopa County, Arizona, a place that has a 287(g) program in place, allowing local law enforcement to act as immigration agents. Hopefully they and others will challenge the notion that the Democrats are doing better than their GOP opponents when it comes to immigration policy. All the Dems do is talk a better game. The actions the the current administration scream louder than any of their words.