Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) directed state agencies this week to ignore President Barack Obama’s order on “deferred action” for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, saying that the order was “a slap in the face to the rule of law and our Constitutional framework of separated powers.”
Although the law states that the federal government has sole authority over matters concerning immigration, and the Obama administration specifically said the order in no way changes the law, Perry insisted that state agencies still have a mandate to verify who is eligible for state and local public benefits — saying, in effect, that Texas will refuse to issue identification cards to undocumented immigrants who qualify for them under federal law.
“The [order] does not undermine or change our state laws, or any federal laws that apply within the State of Texas,” he wrote. “I expect our state agencies to continue to comply with and enforce the laws for the protection of our citizens, communities and state treasury and in fulfillment of our constitutional duty as officials within the executive branch.”
Perry has in the past tried to claim that the 10th Amendment to the Constitution empowers him to refuse orders by the federal government on things like clean air regulations, health insurance exchanges, Medicare and Medicaid assistance and women’s health services. In spite of his proclivity for rhetorical insurrection, Perry is often chided by legal experts for ignoring Article IV, Clause 2 of the Constitution, also known as the federal supremacy clause, which establishes laws and treaties adopted by Congress to be the highest law of the land.
The refusal to comply means Texas, Arizona and Nebraska are rushing headlong into a messy legal battle with the federal government over the Bush administration’s Real ID Act of 2005, which requires a host of new supporting documents be presented to obtain a photo ID, and stipulates that people who qualify for “deferred action” on immigration areeligible for a driver’s license. All states will be required to comply with new standards for photo IDs by January 15, 2013, meaning the federal government will likely have to sue the rogue governors to force their compliance with the law.
During the first two years of President Obama’s administration, undocumented immigrants were deported at a higher rate than ever before, outpacing deportations during even the prior eight years of Republican rule. A study published in April 2012 found that facing the reality of those policies and a continued lack of jobs in a still stagnant economy, legal and illegal immigration from Mexico has hit “net zero”, its lowest level in decades. President Obama has promised to take on immigration reform if he’s elected to a second term.
Arpaio is accused of racially profiling Latinos and using draconian methods to enforce immigration laws. (Wikipedia)
The Justice Department on Thursday accused Arizona’s infamous immigration hardliner, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, of a litany civil rights violations against Latinos under his jurisdiction.
The department issued a 22-page report, which is the result of a three year investigation of Arpaio’s office, that reveals a pattern of racial profiling and discrimination against Latinos, including heavy-handed immigration raids based on racially-charged citizen complaints.
The department also found that the office regularly retaliates against people who criticize their practices and operate jails in a way that discriminates against Latinos with limited English proficiency.
“We find reasonable cause to believe that [the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office] MCSO engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing,” the report reads. ”Specifically, we find that MCSO, through the actions of its deputies, supervisory staff, and command staff, engages in racial profiling of Latinos; unlawfully stops, detains and arrests Latinos; and unlawfully retaliates against individuals who complain about or criticize MSCO’s policies or practices.”
Thomas Perez, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, said in a press conference on Thursday that the department will continue to review the practices of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and work with them to reform their policing policies. He stopped short of calling on Arpaio to step down.
“We’re very clear in our report that the pattern of practice findings that we have uncovered are deeply rooted in the culture of the department and will require sustained efforts from the top and throughout the organization,” Perez said.
In light of the report, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) terminated MCSO’s 287(g) jail model agreement, intended to establish cooperation between the two agencies. DHS is also restricting the office’s access to Secure Communities, a controversial fingerprint-sharing program the Obama administration is seeking to expand to every state by 2013.
“Discrimination undermines law enforcement and erodes public trust,” Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano said in statement. ”DHS will not be a party to such practices.”
Outside of Arizona, Arpaio has emerged as national figure for his outspokenness against illegal immigration. He endorsed Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry last month, a move meant to shore up Perry’s immigration credentials with conservative primary voters.
Arpaio, however, is coming under increased political scrutiny in Arizona. The same organization that successfully launched a recall of Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce (R), the author of his state’s controversial immigration law, is now seeking to unseat the man known as “America’s Toughest Sheriff.”
The group is concerned over allegations that his office overlooked sexual crimes in Maricopa County and has objected to his immigration enforcement methods.
Arpaio has long denied allegations of racial profiling, saying his deputies stop individuals when they have probable cause and later find out they are undocumented immigrants. The sheriff is scheduled for a hearing in Arizona on Dec. 22.
This is a developing story …