Monday, May 31, 2010

More than 100,000 people march in Phoenix for Human Rights

More than 100,000 people marched in Phoenix, Arizona on May 29th for human rights and to stop laws like SB1070 and HB2281. Media reports been sending out insane low numbers of 10,000??!! This is just a quick hit of RAW video to show what really happened.

J.M. Aragón is a videographer, editor, and producer with Pan left Productions in Tucson Arizona. Pan Left puts media tools into hands of people not equally represented in the mainstream media, provides production services to progressive non-profits, and hosts neighborhood and community events.

Source: Alternet

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Administration opposes Arizona law that penalizes hiring of illegal immigrants

By Robert Barnes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Obama administration on Friday urged the Supreme Court to review and set aside an Arizona law that sanctions employers who hire illegal immigrants, saying it would disrupt the "careful balance" that Congress struck in federal immigration law.

The act in question is not the strict new Arizona law that President Obama and other members of his administration have criticized. That measure authorizes police to question the immigration status anyone who appears to be in the country illegally.

The law being challenged, the Legal Arizona Workers Act, imposes tougher sanctions than federal law for hiring illegal workers. If the court chooses to hear the case, its ruling could show how receptive the justices would be to arguments that enforcing immigration laws is a federal responsibility that cannot be usurped by the states.

The Arizona act is being challenged by a coalition of organizations that include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic groups and civil libertarians. Business groups want to head off a proliferation of conflicting state laws on employer sanctions, while others worry that the penalties would discourage companies from hiring even those legally in the country.

The administration, in a brief submitted by Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, said federal law should preempt state efforts.

The Arizona law would "disrupt a careful balance that Congress struck nearly 25 years ago between two interests of the highest importance: ensuring that employers do not undermine enforcement of immigration laws by hiring unauthorized workers, while also ensuring that employers not discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities legally in the country," Katyal wrote.

The court asked the government in November for its view of the case. The response might have been delayed by two factors. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is the state's former governor and was the first defendant when the challenge was filed. And Obama selected Solicitor General Elena Kagan this month as his choice to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

Separately, Justice Department officials met Friday in Phoenix with Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard and aides to Gov. Jan Brewer (R) to express strong reservations about the new law, which goes into effect July 29. The administration fears the law could lead to widespread racial profiling.

The case the court is considering is Chamber of Commerce v. Candelaria.

Source: Washington Post

Friday, May 28, 2010

Kansas City Council Unanimously Opposes Arizona Immigration Law

By a vote of 13-0 about an hour ago, Kansas City’s City Council called upon the Arizona legislature to repeal it’s controversial immigration law and urged Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. They also opposed Arizona House Bill 2281 which prohibits ethnic studies in state schools. While tons of cities are doing this, the move is fairly significant since Missouri is considering similar legislation and the author of the Arizona bill is a professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Story follows:

By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — The Kansas City Council went on record — unanimously — in opposition to an Arizona law that gives local and state police in that state broad authority to detain and demand proof of citizenship from any person suspected of being an undocumented immigrant.

A resolution opposing the measure, sponsored by Fourth District Councilwoman Beth Gottstein and Third District Councilwoman Sandra Sanders Brooks, called on the Arizona legislature to repeal the law, and a second law banning ethnic studies in Arizona schools as a way, in part, to send a message to Missouri lawmakers not to attempt the same measure here.

Jude Huntz, director of the diocesan Human Rights Office which supported the council resolution, said that message was important.

“The Missouri legislature needs to realize that the Arizona legislation is not only flawed, it has no place in our state dynamic,” Huntz said following the council vote on May 27.

“Even if we had the same problems as Arizona, this legislation is not the tool for dealing with these problems,” Huntz said.

Gottstein and Sanders Brooks were the only two council members who spoke during a brief discussion of the resolution, which will now be sent to the Arizona legislature, among a long list of resolutions passed by local lawmakers around the nation.

Gottstein said the law places an “undue burden and unfunded mandate” on local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws while at the same time giving local police a license to discriminate.

She noted that the law says that Arizona local and state police cannot detain people “solely” on the basis of race, but that word in the law gives them the virtual authority to do so.

“If the police action is based 99 percent on race, then that will be OK as long as it is not ‘solely’ on race,” Gottstein said. “It’s a legal way of saying that discrimination is allowed.”

Sanders Brooks said she watched “in horror” as Arizona lawmakers passed the bill and Gov. Janet Brewer signed it into law in April.

“This will further allow racial profiling,” said Sanders Brooks, who also decried the passage of a second Arizona bill outlawing ethnic studies in the state schools.

“These two bills have had a chilling effect on the nation,” she said. “I hope we can send a strong message that we do not condone what the state of Arizona has done.”

Huntz said he hopes Missouri lawmakers get the same message.

“It is important that the (Missouri) state legislature receive a strong message from our cities that this type of legislation will not be helpful, and in fact, will be harmful,” he said.

The Gottstein-Sanders Brooks resolution also called on the U.S. Congress to pass a comprehensive reform of the nation’s immigration system, an action that is also strongly supported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Source: Catholic Key Blog

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Immigration Check Point

Justice Department Weighing Challenge to Arizona Immigration Law

Draft Says Arizona Legislature Overstepped Its Authority


May 26, 2010—

A team of Justice Department attorneys has written a recommendation challenging the Arizona immigration law.

The draft recommendation, part of an ongoing Justice Department review, concludes the Arizona legislature exceeded its authority in crafting a law that could impede federal responsibility for enforcing immigration laws.

Some department lawyers are also concerned that the law could lead to abuses based on race.

The review, however, is not yet complete and there are some within the Justice Department who challenge the recommendation's legal analysis. Sources tell ABC News that the ongoing review may take weeks more and that no formal recommendation has been sent to the White House.

The White House will have to give its stamp of approval for the Justice Department to challenge the law because this is a civil case.

The Arizona immigration law passed in late April is set to be implemented on July 29, barring any legal challenges. The controversial law that has attracted international attention and sparked protests around the country essentially gives Arizona law enforcement greater authority to look for and arrest illegal immigrants.

The bill would allow the police to question and arrest people without warrant if there is "reasonable suspicion" about their immigration status, and to charge undocumented citizens with "trespassing."

People would have to carry proof of their immigration status and can be arrested if they don't have proper documents. It would become illegal for people to employ illegal immigrants or to transport them anywhere in the state, even if they are family members.

A number of police chiefs, including those from Phoenix and Tucson, came to the Department of Justice today to meet with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss their opposition to the new law. The police chiefs told Holder that the law is driving a wedge between them and people in their communities. Other chiefs that attended included those from Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston and the Arizona Chiefs Association.

Copyright © 2010 ABC News Internet Ventures

Source: ABC News

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Phoenix mayor receiving threats over SB 1070

Fox 11

Posted on May 26, 2010 at 4:27 PM

Death threats have forced Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon to increase his security detail. The mayor is under round-the-clock surveillance.

He's been vocal about his stance against Arizona's Senate Bill 1070. And he's received some 5,000 threats. Police say one threat claimed Gordon would be killed by sniper fire.

The mayor says he did not request the extra security and is following police department orders.

Source: Fox 11 AZ

Sunday, May 23, 2010

ABC - 20/20 What Would You Do / Racism In America

Part 1:

Part 2:

Stung by Racism Charges, Nativist Leader Pulls Out of Rallies

William Gheen, the obstreperous head of the nativist group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, or ALIPAC, has pulled his group out of all June Arizona rallies backing that state’s controversial new illegal immigration law. Gheen said he is doing so because former Colorado Republican congressman Tom Tancredo, one of the country’s most hard-line opponents of illegal immigration, is supporting one event in which racist skinheads and neo-Nazis may be involved.

That rally, scheduled for June 5 in Phoenix, is being organized by Dan Smeriglio, founder of Voice of the People USA, an anti-illegal immigration group based in Pennsylvania. Gheen says it could hurt, not help, the efforts of those supporting SB 1070, the bill signed last month by Gov. Jan Brewer giving police wide latitude to detain anybody they think may be in the country illegally and making failure of non-citizens to carry immigration documents a crime. Critics say the law will subject Latinos, whether citizens or not, to racial profiling and police harassment in a state whose population is 30% Hispanic. President Obama, among others, has criticized the law, and a number of cities around the country have voted to protest it by halting business travel to Arizona and banning contracts with businesses there.

Gheen supports the law and initially favored the June 5 rally. But he notified supporters on Tuesday that ALIPAC won’t be attending or promoting any rallies scheduled next month in Arizona to support SB 1070. “We will have no future dealings with Dan Smeriglio or retired Congressman Tom Tancredo due to the neo-Nazi connections and this disaster they have cooked up in Arizona that puts our issue at risk,” Gheen wrote.

Gheen became concerned after a Philadelphia-based anti-hate group called One People’s Project criticized ALIPAC for associating with Smeriglio, who it said was working with racist skinheads. Gheen checked and concluded that was true. He learned, for example, that among the “friends” that Smeriglio listed on his Facebook page was Steve Smith, a regional coordinator of Keystone United, a Pennsylvania racist skinhead group with several chapters. Smith’s Facebook page also indicated he’s a fan of a Swedish white nationalist singer named Saga, whose ditties have included “Goodbye, David Lane.” Lane, a convicted terrorist who died in 2007 while serving a 190-year prison sentence, remains one of the most revered figures in the white nationalist movement. He came up with the famous “14 Words” slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children.”

Smeriglio, 27, lives outside Hazleton, Penn., where he organized an anti-illegal immigration rally six weeks after Mexican immigrant Luis Ramirez was murdered there in 2008. Last November, his Voice of the People USA organized a Tea Party Rally Against Amnesty in Hazleton, a city that has been racially divided since passing harsh anti-immigrant ordinances. Keystone United’s website says that some of its members attended the rally, and Smith appears to have been a prominent participant at the event, bellowing through a bullhorn at passing motorists.

Adding to Gheen’s dismay: Smeriglio claimed he had obtained a permit for the June 5 Phoenix rally, but in fact did not, Gheen says. Somebody did, however — a group protesting SB 1070. The same bizarre scenario unfolded at another, unrelated anti-immigration rally last year in Washington, D.C., Gheen says.

Gheen maintains that he tried to steer people away from the Smeriglio rally in Phoenix by urging anti-illegal immigration leaders to attend a different rally one week later. But he was thwarted, he says, by Tancredo, who urged those same leaders to stick with the June 5 event, even though he had been informed of Smeriglio’s connections. “We do not feel comfortable asking our national network to travel into Arizona at great expense to attend an event that Tom Tancredo is attempting to undermine,” Gheen wrote to his supporters. In a follow-up E-mail on Wednesday, Gheen warned that Tancredo is “making a huge mistake” and “a terrible mistake.”

Tancredo’s incendiary racial attitudes are no secret. He told a Tea Party convention audience in Nashville last February: “People who could not spell the word ‘vote’ or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House — name is Barack Obama.” He complained that Obama was elected because “we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country.” As was widely noted after his remarks were published, Southern states used literacy tests as a means of preventing blacks from voting prior to the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Tancredo did not respond to an E-mail asking for comment on the dust-up with Gheen. Smeriglio could not be located for comment.

The rift between Gheen and Tancredo and Smeriglio is the latest in a series of fratricidal battles among leaders in the nativist movement, especially since the arrest of Minuteman American Defense leader Shawna Forde and two confederates last year on charges of shooting and killing a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter in Arizona. And it came less than six months after Gheen dropped his support of a possible presidential run by talk radio host Lou Dobbs after the former CNN personality moderated his immigrant-bashing too much for Gheen’s taste. The offending moment came when Dobbs went on a Spanish-language television network and said that “we need the ability to legalize illegal immigrants under certain conditions.” Last month, Dobbs struck back after Gheen made the sexual orientation of South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham an issue. With Gheen on his show, Dobbs urged him to “dump the hate from your heart.”

Nor is the Gheen-Tancredo-Smeriglio imbroglio the first time one nativist leader has leveled charges of racism at another. Last December, Jim Gilchrist, head of the Minuteman Project, one of the first large nativist extremist groups to form in the last few years, said in an E-mail that Gheen and two other anti-immigration leaders — Jeff Schwilk and Chelene Nightingale — are “incurable racists who limit activist participation to only white persons, bigots.” Presumably, it was this kind of criticism that drove Gheen to distance ALIPAC from Smeriglio and company.

And so the fight goes on for anti-illegal immigration activists — with counter-demonstrators, with politicians and with each other.


Tom Tancredo has released a statement saying allegations about Smeriglio’s purported ties to racist skinheads “are not only without merit, they are the worst kind of character assassination that no decent person in politics, left, right or center, should condone.” He said he’s confident that people won’t be deterred from showing their support for Arizona residents and for Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, the originator of SB 1070. Pearce, it should be noted, appeared side by side in a 2007 photograph with J.T. Ready, a white supremacist who has attended at least one neo-Nazi rally. Pearce said he was unaware of Ready’s background.

Source: SPLCenter

Arizona Immigration Law Violates Constitution, Guarantees Racial Profiling

By Mary Bauer, SPLC Legal Director

Arizona’s newly adopted immigration law is brazenly unconstitutional and will undoubtedly trample upon the civil rights of residents caught in its path.

By requiring local law enforcement to arrest a person when there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the country illegally, Arizona lawmakers have created a system that guarantees racial profiling. They also have usurped federal authority by attempting to enforce immigration law.

Quite simply, this law is a civil rights disaster and an insult to American values. No one in our country should be required to produce their “papers” on demand to prove their innocence. What kind of country are we becoming?

When Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was asked what an undocumented immigrant looks like, she responded: “I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like. I can tell you that I think there are people in Arizona who assume that they know what an illegal immigrant looks like."

We all know what the outcome of all this double-talk will be. People with brown skin – regardless of whether they are U.S. citizens or legal residents – will be forced to prove their legal status to law enforcement officers time and again. One-third of Arizona’s population – those who are Latino – will be designated as second-class citizens, making anyone with brown skin a suspect even if their families have called Arizona home for generations.

Given the authors of this law, no one should be surprised about its intended targets. The law was drafted by a lawyer for the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), whose founder has warned of a “Latin onslaught” and complained about Latinos’ alleged low “educability.” FAIR has accepted $1.2 million from the Pioneer Fund, a racist foundation that was set up by Nazi sympathizers to fund studies of eugenics, the science of selective breeding to produce a “better” race. The legislation was sponsored by state Senator Russell Pearce, who once e-mailed an anti-Semitic article from the neo-Nazi National Alliance website to supporters.

Making matters worse, lawmakers have allowed citizens to sue local law enforcement agencies that they believe are not adequately enforcing the new law. One can be sure that FAIR and its proxies are salivating at the prospects.

The law is not only unconstitutional, it’s bad public policy and will interfere with effective policing in Arizona’s communities. That’s why the legislation was opposed by the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police. As Latinos grow more fearful of law enforcement, they will be more reluctant to report crimes, and witnesses will be less likely to cooperate with police. Criminals will target the Latino community, confident their victims will keep quiet.

Lawmakers in other states are eager to replicate this ill-advised law. Their frustration with current immigration policy is understandable, but this system must be remedied by our Congress, which should enact fair immigration reform. The federal government must craft a policy that repairs our broken immigration system and, at the same time, protects our most cherished values. States that attempt to follow Arizona’s example will only succeed in sowing fear, discord and intolerance in our communities while undermining law enforcement and inviting costly constitutional challenges.

Source: Southern Poverty Law Center

The irony of Arizona's new immigration law

Next Step: Arizona to Refuse Birth Certificates?

Morgan Loew
CBS5 Investigative Reporter

POSTED: 12:32 pm MST May 20, 2010
UPDATED: 10:40 pm MST May 21, 2010
PHOENIX -- E-mails to and from Ariz.state Sen. Russell Pearce reveal the immigration enforcement debate may not stop with SB 1070, the controversial immigration law.

Pearce, R-Mesa, the author of Arizona’s immigration law, has been writing to some of his constituents about what he plans to accomplish next.

In e-mails obtained by CBS 5 News, Pearce said he intends to push for a bill that would enable Arizona to no longer grant citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants born on U.S. soil.

Pearce wrote in one e-mail: "I also intend to push for an Arizona bill that would refuse to accept or issue a birth certificate that recognizes citizenship to those born to illegal aliens, unless one parent is a citizen."

CBS 5 Investigates looked through hundreds of e-mails Pearce had sent to constituents and some of their replies. The e-mails varied from praise to criticism and outlined Pearce’s future plans. Most were about SB 1070, his immigration law.

E-mails from the law’s supporters outnumbered those from critics by seven to one.

One supporter wrote, "I think it is about time we take our state and country back from the Mexicans."

One opponent wrote, "Mr. Pearce, you are a sick, racist bigot..."

Pearce replied to some opponents: "Do you not care about the deaths…maimings…billions in cost to America..."

One of the more remarkable e-mails sent to a list of supporters detailed his next steps. The e-mail, several pages long, includes articles critical of the 14th Amendment, which gives babies born on U.S. soil automatic citizenship.

One of the e-mails written by someone else but forwarded by Pearce reads: "If we are going to have an effect on the anchor baby racket, we need to target the mother. Call it sexist, but that's the way nature made it. Men don't drop anchor babies, illegal alien mothers do."

In response, Pearce sent two e-mails to CBS 5 News that contain some of the reasoning he used to conclude that children of illegal immigrants should not be granted citizenship. He also said he's disappointed when people think he's mean spirited because he stands for America.

Pearce said his new idea is not only legal but it's also constitutional.

“It’s common sense,” Pearce said. “Again -- you can’t break into someone’s country and then expect to be rewarded for that. You can’t do it.”

When Pearce was shown the e-mail referring to “anchor babies” that he forwarded, he said he didn’t find anything wrong with the language.

“It’s somebody’s opinion… What they’re trying to say is it’s wrong, and I agree with them. It’s wrong,” said Pearce.

Source: KPHO

Top Official Says Feds May Not Process Illegals Referred From Arizona

A top Department of Homeland Security official reportedly said his agency will not necessarily process illegal immigrants referred to them by Arizona authorities.

This article was updated at 4:36 p.m. on May 21. See editor's note at the bottom of the article.

A top Department of Homeland Security official reportedly said his agency will not necessarily process illegal immigrants referred to them by Arizona authorities.

John Morton, assistant secretary of homeland security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, made the comment during a meeting on Wednesday with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, the newspaper reports.

"I don't think the Arizona law, or laws like it, are the solution," Morton told the newspaper.

The best way to reduce illegal immigration is through a comprehensive federal approach, he said, and not a patchwork of state laws.

The law, which criminalizes being in the state illegally and requires authorities to check suspects for immigration status, is not "good government," Morton said.

In response to Morton's comments, DHS officials said President Obama has ordered the Department of Justice to examine the civil rights and other implications of the law.

"That review will inform the government's actions going forward," DHS spokesman Matt Chandler told Fox News on Friday.

Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said ICE is not obligated to process illegal immigrants referred to them by Arizona authorities.

"ICE has the legal discretion to accept or not to accept persons delivered to it by non-federal personnel," Napolitano said. "It also has the discretion to deport or not to deport persons delivered to it by any government agents, even its own."

Read more here: Fox News

Supervisors order Sheriff Joe Arpaio to contempt proceeding

by Yvonne Wingett, Michael Kiefer and JJ Hensley
- May. 13, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday ordered Sheriff Joe Arpaio to attend a contempt hearing May 24 to explain his refusal to hand over financial documents the board demanded through a subpoena.

The board's unanimous decision to force Arpaio and his chief financial officer, Loretta Barkell, to testify is unprecedented. Never before has the county used its subpoena powers to require another elected county official to appear before the board.

The supervisors believe state statutes allow them to hold Arpaio in contempt if they aren't satisfied with the response.

If the board were to try, however, it would certainly be tested in court.

Arpaio wouldn't comment Wednesday; sheriff's spokeswoman Lisa Allen would say only that the office is "conferring with our attorneys."

The Arizona Republic talked with several legal experts, including attorneys, judges and law professors, to determine how the latest battle between the board and Arpaio could play out.

Question: Why did the board take this approach to get the financial records?

Answer: The board ordered the contempt hearing after sheriff's officials did not respond to attempts by Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson to get answers to questions she had about possible financial mismanagement.

In a March 30 letter to Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott and Barkell, Wilson said she was concerned that restricted funds may have been misspent. Sheriff's officials did not respond.

The board issued a subpoena April 27 and gave Arpaio until May 7 to turn over documents. The request was for items including detailed credit-card transactions, work assignments and lists of detainees or defendants extradited by the office and all bank accounts dating back to Jan. 1, 2005.

When the sheriff missed that deadline, the board ordered him to a contempt hearing.

Asked why the county didn't submit a public-records request to the Sheriff's Office, county spokeswoman Cari Gerchick said Wilson's memos satisfied the county's internal information request: "It seems silly to have to use the public-records vehicle to get financial data when we're in the midst of budgeting, and this is the normal process for getting budgeting documents," she said.

Q: Why does the board want the files?

A: County officials believe the Sheriff's Office could be mismanaging or misspending public money. Board attorney Tom Irvine and Deputy Budget Director Lee Ann Bohn on Wednesday told the board the records will help them better understand how sheriff's officials have spent money. They believe Arpaio may have misspent or mismanaged restricted detention funds to pay for personnel.

Bohn indicated that Arpaio also kept a "shadow" bank account. Although it's allowed by county policy, she said the details should be made public.

Q: What gives the board the authority to issue subpoenas?

A: As the county's governing board, the five supervisors control almost all county finances.

Arizona Revised Statute 11-218 gives county boards and their chairmen the authority to issue subpoenas, that is, legal orders to produce documents related to county business, or to order witnesses to appear at a hearing.

What makes the board different from a court is that courts have extensive ethical rules and case law defining what judges or lawyers can or can't do regarding conflict of interest.

Two of the supervisors have been investigated by the Sheriff's Office, and the board has a long history of litigation with the sheriff. Such history would conflict a judge or attorney out of trying a case.

Since this type of procedure is untested, legal experts said there may not be precedent that considers conflict of interest in holding a contempt hearing.

Q: Has the board ever issued subpoenas or held contempt hearings?

A: Last year, the Board of Supervisors subpoenaed financial records from County Treasurer Charles "Hos" Hoskins, who immediately turned over the records. But the board has not held a contempt hearing, County Manager David Smith said. "This is already taking it a step further," he said. "I don't know what to expect."

Q: What is Arpaio's potential defense?

A: Arpaio and Barkell could attend the hearing. They also could turn over the records or negotiate a compromise.

Arpaio could file a special action, which is a sort of fast-track appeal, in Superior Court questioning whether the board is acting in excess of its authority. And if they are held in contempt of the board, they also could appeal.

Q: What happens if Arpaio is held in contempt?

A. Some experts said a trial of sorts would have to be held in order to find him in contempt. If that happens, he could be jailed until he agrees to turn over the requested documents. In court parlance, a judge will state that the person held in contempt "holds the keys to his jail cell," meaning that if he complies with the order, he is released.

Short of contempt, the board could narrow the scope of its request for documents, or if dissatisfied, it could take a variety of actions. For example, the board could turn off the county credit cards of certain sheriff's employees, restrict travel, or ask Arpaio to turn over all of his books to an auditor.

Source: AZCentral

Springfield Park: No Hispanics Allowed

Letter spurs Rick Romley to warn Joe Arpaio

by Michael Kiefer - May. 20, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Sheriff Joe Arpaio has sent letters to current and former attorneys in the Maricopa County Attorney's Office warning them to watch their words if they speak to investigators looking into possible unethical conduct by former County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

The letter threatens the attorneys with criminal charges if they reveal "confidential" information about the sheriff's inquiries into county Supervisors Don Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox and Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe.

Interim County Attorney Rick Romley responded with a letter of his own warning Arpaio that he was overstepping the authority of his office.

In late March, Arizona Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch appointed a Colorado attorney to conduct the investigation. John Gleason, who handles such inquests for the Colorado Supreme Court, has been in Phoenix in recent weeks to work on the case. Gleason could not comment because of his own ethical obligations.

On May 3, Arpaio mailed letters to current and former county attorney staffers, saying, "This letter is intended to advise you that I do not consent to you revealing any information provided to you by my office, regardless of any personal incentive to breach the attorney-client privilege."

At the end of the letter, he wrote, "Be advised that should you disclose any information that could harm any pending criminal investigations, I will consider charging you with violations of applicable statutes."

Phil MacDonnell, Thomas' former chief deputy, received one of the letters. "It gave me pause," MacDonnell said.

However, Romley fired off a letter to Arpaio citing case law and informing him that the relationship between the two offices is not attorney and client but law enforcement and prosecutor. Citing case law, Romley said that the County Attorney's Office "does not render legal services to the investigators."

As for the threat to file criminal charges against anyone who testifies to the Bar, Romley wrote, "This threat is not only inappropriate but is a clear abuse of your authority as sheriff of Maricopa County.

Thereby, I shall be forwarding your letter" to the U.S. District Attorney's Office.

Source: AZCentral

Arizona violating treaty ratified by U.S.

By Chandra Bhatnagar, Special to CNN

* Chandra Bhatnagar: Experts say Arizona law will lead to increased racial profiling
* Law violates Constitution as it makes any Latino a potential criminal suspect, he says
* Bhatnagar: It's also a blatant violation of U.N. rights treaty, signed and ratified by the U.S.
* He says it's time for U.S. to extend rights it expects from other nations to its own people

Editor's note: Chandra Bhatnagar is an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union's Human Rights Program and principal author of "The Persistence of Racial and Ethnic Profiling in the United States," recently submitted to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

(CNN) -- On the heels of the passage of Arizona's racial profiling law, tens of thousands of people from all over the country have marched in support of human rights and against the legislation.

That law, SB 1070, requires Arizona law enforcement agents to determine the citizenship status of people they stop if the officer has an undefined "reasonable suspicion" that the person is not in this country lawfully.

The ACLU and a coalition of civil rights groups filed a lawsuit this week challenging the unconstitutional law. There is little doubt among experts that the new Arizona law will lead to increased racial profiling.

Civil libertarians have criticized the law as a violation of basic constitutional rights because it transforms Arizona's Latino community and other people of color -- who may be presumed by law enforcement officers to be in the country "unlawfully" -- into potential criminal suspects.

Constitutional scholars have criticized the legislation by invoking the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prevents states from usurping the federal government's authority to regulate immigration.

But what has been largely absent from the public debate about the legality and morality of SB 1070 is Arizona's blatant violation of international human rights law, as underscored by several U.N. experts.

The law flies in the face of Arizona's human rights obligations, particularly the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), which the United States ratified in 1994 and which is binding on all levels of federal, state and local governments, including Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the bill.

ICERD obligates federal, state and local governments to guarantee that laws and policies do not discriminate, in purpose or effect, on the grounds of race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin. Under ICERD, all noncitizens, regardless of their immigration status, are entitled to equal protection and equality before the law. Federal, state and local governments are barred from employing or carrying out racial or ethnic discrimination against individuals or communities.

The treaty states "each state party undertakes to engage in no act or practice of racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions and to ensure that all public authorities and public institutions, national and local, shall act in conformity with this obligation."

Last summer, the ACLU and the Rights Working Group released a human rights report that compiled data from across the United States. It revealed that law enforcement agencies investigate, stop, frisk or search racial minorities based upon subjective identity-based characteristics, rather than identifiable evidence of illegal activity. The report found that racial profiling remains a pervasive problem around the country.

The report, which was submitted to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), highlighted profiling in 22 states. In Arizona, it showed that African-American and Latino drivers were 2.5 times more likely than white drivers to be searched after being stopped by the highway patrol. Native American drivers were 3.25 times more likely to be searched, even though they were less likely to be found with contraband.

The report also documented the many human rights violations committed by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, under the direction of Joe Arpaio. The office has received national and international attention for its practices of profiling and harassment of Latinos.

In early 2009, Arpaio's actions resulted in a Department of Justice investigation based on "alleged patterns or practices of discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures ... and on allegations of national origin discrimination." So SB 1070 exacerbates an already poor human rights record.

In September, the CERD committee sent a letter to the Obama administration conveying concerns about the lack of progress in addressing racial discrimination and urging it to pass the End Racial Profiling Act and end immigration programs that foster racial profiling.

Since that time, as evidenced by Arizona's law, profiling has actually gotten worse.

Despite the language in the bill cited by proponents as evidence of its design to prevent profiling, there can be no doubt that SB 1070 invites law enforcement agents to stop people on the street based upon how they those people look, as opposed to any verifiable evidence of criminal activity, or, alternatively, to stop them for a legitimate reason and then demand their "papers" based on appearance or race.

It is inevitable that there will be an increase in racial profiling and harassment of minorities. As a party to ICERD, the U.S. and the state of Arizona have a legal and moral obligation to end all programs and policies that disproportionately discriminate against racial or ethnic minorities.

At the state level, Arizona must repeal this discriminatory legislation. At the federal level, the Obama administration should take legal action against Arizona to stop this law from taking effect in its entirety.

It is encouraging that Attorney General Eric Holder is considering all options, including bringing legal action against Arizona or joining lawsuits filed by other parties. Congress must also take action to bring this country into conformity with both the Constitution and international human rights obligations by passing the End Racial Profiling Act. This act would ban the practice of racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal funding to state and local police departments if they adopt policies to prohibit the practice.

Also, the United States should create a concrete program of action for full implementation of the treaty, making sure state governments are protecting and promoting human rights.

A concrete ICERD implementation plan would educate state and local officials, such as Brewer, about their legal obligations under U.S. treaties and international law and serve to educate the public, as well.

President Obama called Arizona's law "misguided" and said that it "threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe."

Recently, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that "Human rights are universal, but their experience is local. This is why we are committed to holding everyone to the same standard, including ourselves." They have it right.

But words are not enough. It is time for the U.S. government to match its human rights rhetoric with action and for our elected leaders to protect and defend the basic human rights of all people.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Chandra Bhatnagar.

Source: CNN

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