Who needs a new immigration law? Sheriff Joe’s been booting immigrants out of the country at an astonishing rate for the last three years.
Under a government program that allows local law enforcement agencies to deputize officers to work on immigration enforcement, Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County office has helped deport or force the departure of 26,146 immigrants since 2007, according to The Associated Press. That’s more than 20 percent of the nationwide total made through the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement program.
With Arizona’s new immigration law set to take effect tomorrow (though a judge has now blocked the most controversial parts of the law), it’s clear that Sheriff Joe is already ahead of the curve.
The Justice Department said in its suit challenging the law that the 287(g) federal-local partnerships are one way Congress allowed states to assist in enforcing immigration laws.
“At the pragmatic level, if local police are already allowed to do this and are allowed to do this with federal cooperation with the state, then why do they need the (new Arizona) law?” said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the New York office of the Migration Policy Institute, an immigration think tank.
“I don’t know what the big hype is going on with this law,” Arpaio said Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “We’ve been doing it for three years.”
The AP reports that the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general “reported in March that the 287(g) program was poorly supervised and provided insufficient training to officers, including on civil rights law.” The inspector general made a number of recommendations for fixing the program, some of which have yet to be addressed.
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Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com