Court Monitor

Court Blocks Sheriff from Arresting Illegals

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was courageously enforcing Arizona laws against illegal aliens who used stolen identities to gain employment. Two Arizona laws make that a felony, and the sheriff was doing his job in finding and arresting the felons.

But in one of the first major rulings of 2015, a federal judge appointed by George W. Bush blocked Sheriff Arpaio from continuing to enforce this Arizona law against illegal aliens. Nominated and then confirmed by a Republican-controlled Senate in 2003, Judge David Campbell granted a preliminary injunction to the ACLU and other plaintiffs who wanted Sheriff Arpaio's law enforcement work against illegal aliens stopped. Puente Arizona v. Arpaio, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 311 (D. Ariz. Jan. 5, 2015).

Arizona is a flashpoint for illegal aliens because 97% of the illegal entry into the United States occurs along the U.S.-Mexico border, with much of that flowing into Arizona. Only about 20% of these illegal aliens are caught while crossing the border.

While many types of crime have been declining due the aging of the population, crime associated with illegal immigration is sharply rising. The seizure of large quantities of drugs and high-speed car chases have increased, for example, in areas of Arizona plagued heavily by illegal aliens.

Sheriff Arpaio has been trying to clean up his county in Arizona by simply enforcing Arizona law. But the federal district court has halted his efforts.

The Court ruled that the Arizona law prohibiting illegal aliens from using stolen identities to become employed was somehow "pre-empted" by toothless federal immigration law. The Court held that the Arizona law interferes with "the careful balance" struck by Congress with respect to unauthorized employment of illegal aliens.

Arizona's method of enforcement is different from the federal government's, and the Court found that difference to create an impermissible conflict. In reality the Obama Administration's method of enforcement to protect Americans against illegal aliens is to do nothing.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery criticized the federal ruling. He said it "underscores yet again the consequences of federal inaction and the Obama administration's indifference to the effects of unlawful immigration practices."

Sheriff Arpaio said that "the citizens of Maricopa County have been stripped of another protection that this state attempted to enact to protect the integrity and identity of its citizens. I do not understand how federal law can pre-empt state law when the federal government has proven it has no desire to protect its citizens in these areas. I hope that the decision to appeal this particular opinion is made bravely and quickly."

Sheriff Arpaio's work had been highly effective because another state law made illegal aliens ineligible to be released from jail on bond when charged with a serious crime such as a felony. But a federal court invalidated that law, too.

A poll performed by the Pew Research Center and USA Today found that 50% of Americans disapprove of President Obama's plans for allowing millions of illegal aliens to remain in this country, while only 46 percent approve. Despite those numbers, local officials are now prevented by a federal court from finding and prosecuting illegal aliens who commit felonies in obtaining jobs.