PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is taking issue with the Obama administration's claim that more people in the U.S. illegally have been deported than ever before since President Barack Obama took office.
According to Arpaio, one-third of the people booked into jail on criminal charges had been arrested before and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation. He says jail data shows that many have multiple arrests, often for violent crimes.
The self-proclaimed "America's Toughest Sheriff," a moniker Arpaio actively cultivates, says the federal government is not being straight with the public on the issue of illegal immigration and how it is being handled.
"One of two things is happening," Arpaio said in a news release, "either the federal government is quietly ushering illegal aliens out its back doors and back onto our streets, or our border is still so wide open that deportees continue to re-enter the country illegally with remarkable ease."
According to numbers out of Washington, Obama's administration is on track to hit benchmark -- 2 million people deported since 2009. Critics pushing for tougher immigration laws say those numbers are inflated.
At the same time, activists across the country are pushing to an end to deportations completely.
Arpaio, who is known for his staunch views on illegal immigration and persistent determination to enforce immigration laws in Arizona, says he wants to know why one on three people arrested by his department and handed over to ICE for deportation proceedings wind up back on the streets of Maricopa County.
"Clearly, local tax dollars are being wasted," Arpaio said. "Law enforcement across the county arrests these offenders, officers place immigration holds to keep the offenders in jail, and then they are turned over to the federal government that brags about 'record deportations.' Yet our statistics paint a very different picture. These 'deportations' are either not happening or are exceptionally ineffective and that means Washington is failing the American people and hiding the truth."
Arpaio, who has long been outspoken in his criticism of the government's handling of illegal immigration and border security, acknowledged that recidivism is not a problem limited to criminals who are living in the U.S. illegally.
"American citizens who commit crimes also re-offend at an alarming rate, so this problem is not unique to illegal aliens. However, the difference is while we can’t absolutely stop U.S. citizens from re-offending, we can with illegal aliens. Simply stated: they cannot commit crimes if they are no longer in the country. The solution is that simple."
Arpaio scheduled a news conference Thursday afternoon to discuss findings developed by his office over the past several months. 3TV and azfamily.com will be there and will have the latest information as it develops.
Statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the agency’s resources to identify criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety, and individuals apprehended at the border while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States. The ICE employees based in Arizona are committed to carrying out that mission with the utmost integrity. ICE personnel dedicate their professional lives to this effort, and in many cases, place themselves in harm’s way in order to protect public safety."
- In December 2011, following DOJ’s findings of discriminatory policing practices within Maricopa County, ICE terminated its 287(g) jail agreement with Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. At that time, ICE also restricted MCSO access to the Secure Communities program and ICE officers assumed criminal alien screening duties at the Maricopa County Jail. ICE continues to screen every individual booked into the jail and places immigration detainers based on the enforcement priorities noted above. [ICE]
- ICE’s Phoenix field office removed 34,868 aliens from the U.S. last fiscal year, including 21,596 convicted criminal aliens. The agency issued 7,442 new criminal alien charging documents in Arizona in Fiscal Year 2013, with the majority of those coming from Maricopa County as well as the state prison system. [ICE]