By John Cardillo
This week, the Department of Homeland Security publicly rebuked Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, essentially telling him to stop arresting illegal aliens for being illegal aliens. That’s right, Homeland Security asked the chief law enforcement officer of an Arizona county to stop arresting law breakers for breaking the law.
Normally the job of federal law enforcement, specifically the mission of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) branch of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which falls under the control of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), illegal immigration enforcement can be carried out by local and state law enforcement agencies that enter into an agreement with the federal government to undertake such missions.
Maricopa and other counties like it enter into what is called a 287(g) agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which offers Sheriff’s deputies and other non-federal law enforcement agencies and officials access to federal immigration databases and grants specific powers to enforce federal laws. Seems like a good common sense idea, right? After all, we constantly hear that we don’t have enough CBP agents on the southern border, so why not get local cops involved? It also seems logical that the Sheriff’s department engages in crime suppression during street patrols during which they arrest illegals. I mean, that’s what cops do, isn’t it? They patrol the streets in an effort to suppress crime. So it should stand to reason that, during those patrols, if they come across someone they suspect of breaking the law–i.e. being an illegal alien–that they should be able to determine the immigration status of the individual and, if the person is illegal, arrest and detain them.
Any right-thinking person would agree that a Sheriff’s department in southern Arizona, an area which has seen a sharp rise in Mexican drug cartel violence and kidnapping related to cartel activity, should be spending a good amount of time rounding up those who illegally cross the southern border and are the majority of the perpetrators in those crimes. Wouldn’t they?
Well, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the former Governor of Arizona (and current minion to the King of Appeasement, Barack Hussein Obama), a person who all-too-well knows the threat Arizona is facing, isn’t the most logical or right-thinking (pun intended) of people. I, for one, do not sleep better with her at the helm of Homeland Security. Now, Napolitano wants to revise the 287(g) agreement with Maricopa County so that the Sheriff’s office will no longer have direct authority to search for illegal immigrants through street patrols and crime suppression sweeps, instead limiting the sheriff’s office ability to only check the immigration status of people arrested and booked into county jails.
Supporters of Homeland Security’s plan argue that nearly 30,000 illegals have been identified in this fashion since 2007. Maricopa County’s East Valley Tribune writes that the strategy has been “making a legitimate dent in the number of border-crossers who managed to avoid federal detection,” and that “[o]ther Valley media have reported that only a couple hundred illegal immigrants have been caught in this manner, or approximately one immigrant for every sheriff’s deputy assigned to participate in a series of such sweeps over the past two years.”
Now, the East Valley Tribune, and other outfits might find a couple of hundred illegals arrested during crime suppression sweeps an insignificant number, but I don’t. Neither do the “couple of hundred” or more victims of the crimes they committed. A “couple of hundred” over two years arrested, detained and deported under old standards that now won’t be arrested, detained and deported under new standards but will instead commit more crimes means that two new victims will be affected weekly in Maricopa County, Arizona.
The same strategy Sheriff Joe is applying was used by Rudy Giuliani to clean up New York City. I can speak to this first-hand because I was a member of the NYPD under Giuliani, and used his “broken windows” strategy to arrest some very bad people. At the time, we caught hell for the strategy from the liberal media, but even they could not dispute the massive decline in New York City crime and, eventually, it became a non-story.
Now, we see that the Department of Homeland Security wants to ignore history and the tactics proven by history to be effective. A DHS spokesperson, in fact, explained to the East Valley Tribune that “DHS said that provision was included because there were concerns that police were using minor infractions to get illegal immigrants deported.”
Where is the problem with that?
The broken windows theory was conceived in an article titled “Broken Windows” by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, which appeared in the March 1982 edition of The Atlantic Monthly. The term “broken windows” comes from the following example:
Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.
Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.
The article’s author, George L. Kelling, was hired as a consultant to the New York City Transit Authority in 1985, and robust measures to test the broken windows theory were implemented. Graffiti vandalism was intensively targeted, and the subway system was cleaned line by line and car by car from 1984 until 1990. It worked. ‘Till this day, NYC subway cars are no longer filthy and graffiti stained, especially considering how it looked before Kelling became involved.
In 1990, William Bratton became head of the New York City Transit Police. Bratton described George L. Kelling as his “intellectual mentor” and implemented zero tolerance of fare-dodging, easier arrestee processing methods, and background checks on all those arrested. Mayor Rudy Giuliani, elected in 1993, brought Bratton on board–who was then running Boston PD (and now runs LAPD)–as his Police Commissioner. They implemented the strategy in New York City under the rubrics of “zero tolerance” and “quality of life.”
Giuliani and Bratton had the police even more strictly enforce the law against subway fare evasion, and stopped public drinkers, urinators, and the “squeegee men” who had been wiping windshields of stopped cars and demanding payment. Rates of both petty and serious crime fell suddenly and significantly, and continued to drop for the following ten years. Simply put, if you arrest for little crimes, you change the overall climate and feel of a city, and more importantly, you start reducing crime on the whole.
Do you think that a scumbag who does armed robberies is going to pay the fare for the subway? Of course not, so by running a warrants search on that fare evader, the NYC Transit Police (now the Transit Bureau of NYPD) were closing out much bigger cases. While on patrol in the Bronx, I personally arrested a “squeegee man” who had four outstanding warrants for armed robberies. I detained him for illegal panhandling, ran his information, and the warrants returned over the radio. A very bad guy caught committing a type of crime which, under David Dinkins’ administration, we had been told to ignore.
Homeland Security wants to take this tool away from Arpaio, instead limiting his ability to check immigration status to those arrested and booked into jails. So, his deputies might never know that the person they stopped for speeding, who doesn’t speak a lick of English, is a known gang member and an illegal alien. If he has a valid driver’s license–which many illegals do–and his license is clean, they’ll have to send him on his way. Never mind that he might be an enforcer for the Sinaloa Cartel on his way to kidnap the kid of a rival gangster. The way Janet Napolitano and DHS has handcuffed Arpaio begs the question: How can you prevent crime when the only ones you are allowed to investigate are already behind bars?
The most telling and chilling statistics come from a story published in the Arizona Republic on Oct 2, 2008:
County Attorney Andrew Thomas on Thursday released a study indicating that illegal immigrants comprised nearly 19 percent of those sentenced for felonies in Maricopa County in 2007, even though illegal immigrants only make up an estimated 9 percent of the county’s population.
The numbers, which were generated by the County Attorney’s Office, reinforce popular beliefs about illegal immigration and crime but contradict the findings of some sociologists and journalists.
The Republic reported earlier this year, for example, that only 10 percent of bookings into Maricopa County jails in the last six months of 2007 were subject to holds by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
Similarly, a study released last week that was conducted by researchers at Arizona State University on behalf of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors indicated that only 10 percent of the county jail inmate population in 2007 were undocumented immigrants, 2 percent were legal immigrants and 88 percent were U.S. citizens.
But the study released by Thomas on Thursday, which focuses on persons who are actually convicted, says that 18.7 percent of convicted felons in Maricopa County last year were undocumented immigrants.
A group that makes up nine percent of the documented population is responsible for 19 percent of the felonies, but only 10 percent of bookings into Maricopa County jails were subject to immigration holds. Does anyone but me find a problem with the limitations DHS is putting on the Sheriff’s department? Luckily, Sheriff Arpaio is pushing back and has other enforcement tools, namely state laws against human smuggling and new sanctions for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. He also insists he still can seek to identify illegal immigrants during street patrols under another section of federal law.
This nation needs a Department of Homeland Security that actually cares about securing the homeland. Under Janet Napolitano, we have anything but. Until we do, I’m going to keep supporting and rooting for guys like Sheriff Joe.
John Cardillo, a former NYPD officer now considered to be one of the world’s foremost experts on online safety and security, is president and CEO of Sentinel Tech Holding Corp., an Internet security company which specializes in online crime and predator detection, online child safety, and the protection of Internet end users from criminals and sexual predators. Cardillo lives in Miami, Florida and, in his spare time, can be found astride his Harley-Davidson, in the Florida Keys, at the shooting range, or on South Beach. He has been contributing to America’s Right since January 2009.