By Jim Kouri
It appears to many law enforcement officers that not a day goes by without Attorney General Eric Holder or the Department of Justice announcing that they are probing local law enforcement agencies in different parts of the country over allegations of a “pattern of discrimination against Latinos in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”
According to a well-respected blog for a Washington, D.C.watchdog group, this appears to be part of a much bigger Obama Administration plan to crackdown on local governments that try to curb illegal immigration. The DOJ has challenged immigration control laws in Arizona and Alabama and the administration has made it clear that it’s keeping a close eye on law enforcement agencies that may be viewed as targeting illegal aliens,according to the blogger at Judicial Watch, a non-profit, public interest group that investigates government corruption.
For example, the DOJ released their findings involving the police department in the tiny Connecticut town of East Haven, with a population of about 29,000. According to a lengthy federal probe the East Haven Police Department allegedly engages in a pattern or practice of discrimination against Latinos by intentionally and disproportionately targeting them for traffic enforcement and treating them “more harshly than non-Latino drivers after a traffic stop,” according to the DOJ.
Furthermore, the East Haven Police Department has failed to remedy a history of discrimination and deliberate indifference to the rights of minorities, the DOJ says. The department also fails to collect and report traffic stop data in accordance with state racial profiling laws, claim the feds.
Among its many offenses over the years is failure to provide “limited English proficient Latinos with appropriate language access” and a failure to abide by individuals’ consular rights. This appears to refer to illegal aliens who may want to contact their country’s consular office after getting in trouble with the law.
Last week it was the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department — headed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio — in Arizona that got blasted by the DOJ for engaging in a pattern of unconstitutional policing. Specifically, the DOJ’s “extensive” investigation found that the Maricopa County Sherriff’s Department engages in racial profiling of Latinos, unlawfully stops, detains, and arrests Latinos and unlawfully retaliates against individuals who complain about these racist practices.
The feds took it a step further by also saying that the Maricopa agency has discriminatory jail practices against Latino inmates with limited English proficiency by punishing them and denying them critical services. Officers also follow “police practices that have the effect of significantly compromising” the agency’s “ability to adequately protect Latino residents,” according to the DOJ.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, head of the department’s Civil Rights Division, claims the DOJ’s three-year civil investigation found that the sheriff and his deputies engaged in unconstitutional conduct and violations of federal law that jeopardized his “commitment to fair and effective” law enforcement.
In addition to blasting Sheriff Arpaio, the Justice Department is expected to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Arizona asking a federal judge to order changes in the sheriff’s office.
Critics of Holder and Obama believe the Arpaio case is designed to coincide with the U.S. Supreme Court’s hearing on Arizona’s immigration law (SB1070), and as strategy to bring back the president’s Hispanic base.
“It’s not beyond Obama’s bag of tricks to portray border security proponents as racist and xenophobic,” warns former police commander Mike Snopes.
Meanwhile, Homeland Security Department Secretary Janet Napolitano wasted no time piling on Arpaio. She stripped his department of its authority to enforce immigration laws and regulations.
“Accordingly, and effective immediately, DHS is terminating (the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s) 287(g) jail model agreement and is restricting the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office access to the Secure Communities program,” stated Napolitano.
The Maricopa Sheriff’s “systematic disregard for basic constitutional protections has created a wall of distrust between the sheriff’s office and large segments of the community, which dramatically compromises the ability to protect and serve the people,” said Thomase Perez, the Assistant Attorney General Obama appointed to run the DOJ’s bloated civil rights division.
Ironically, it was less than a year ago that a top Obama immigration official defended the Maricopa Sheriff’s program to crackdown on illegal immigration, which clearly triggered the DOJ racial profiling investigation, according to the Judicial Watch blog.
Dozens of illegal aliens with criminal records have been apprehended, restoring law and order in a large Phoenix business district rife with solicitation, trespassing, loitering and public health ordinance violations created by day laborers.
Earlier this year the assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (John Morton) said there was no evidence of racial profiling by deputies in Maricopa County and that the majority of the illegal immigrants arrested have been convicted of serious crimes, according to the Judicial Watch blog.
“Sixty nine percent of the people we receive in Maricopa County have been convicted of Level 1 and Level 2 offenses, which are serious felony offenses, drug trafficking, assaults, rape,” Morton said during a meeting with editors of a local newspaper.
He added that the Maricopa program has been consistent with meeting his agency’s priority of arresting illegal immigrants who commit serious crimes.