This may see obvious to those of you in the rest of the country, but there are real problems with treating a man uniquely allowed to use force against the citizenry like a rock star. And that is how certain segments of the local population treat Sheriff Joe Arpaio. As one abuse of power after another is revealed, his supporters respond "Isn't he so colorful, just like an old-time western sheriff."
Unfortunately, Arpaio's indifference to due process and individual rights obviously has percolated to the entire staff. Here is the most recent craziness -- during a trial, a Sheriff's deputy starts going through the defendant's attorney's papers, and takes some of them (all of which were attorney-client privileged).
The explanation was that the documents had not been screened for contraband and weapons, so the deputy had to take (what looks like a couple of sheets of paper) away to study them to make sure there was no gun stapled to them or something. This so lame I am not sure how they can even say it with a straight face, but true to form the Sheriff's office is rallying around its own. More in the AZ Republic.
Why is it the organizations (ie police departments) whom we entrust with uniquely scary power to use force on us citizens tend to have the least well developed internal checks and accountability processes?
I was driving back to Phoenix today from San Diego on Interstate 8 and I really needed my camera.
As many of you in this area will have observed, the INS is out in force, setting up roadblocks and checkpoints on highways to look for illegal immigrants. On top of our current rules requiring employers to act as immigration agents, our labor force is drying up in Arizona, making the search for workers harder. That is why I thought it was hilarious that at the INS checkpoint near Yuma, the INS had a big sandwich-board type sign out front on the road saying "We're hiring!"
Russell Pearce is the Arizona legislator who authored the AZ employer sanctions law. Remember, that's the law that requires, among other things, employers to check the immigration status of current employees using an INS system that has federal rules in place that make it illegal to use this system to... check the immigration status of current employees. His plan is to reduce a major source of labor in the Arizona economy which, by the way, has a 3.5%-4.1% unemployment rate over the last year, the lowest level in 30 years.
The newest front in the battle over illegal immigration is dragging health-care workers into the fray.
The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association is trying to kill a
proposal by Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, that would require its members
to check the citizenship of patients who deliver babies at Arizona
If neither of the parents can prove citizenship, the hospital would be barred from issuing a regular birth certificate.
Babies of parents who are here legally but not citizens also would be denied regular birth certificates.
Beyond the obvious concerns about driving moms away from medical care for their deliveries, Mr. Pearce has a teeny-tiny Constitutional issue he must deal with in the 14th Amendment:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to
the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the
State wherein they reside.
Mr. Pearce is hoping that "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" can be stretched to say that such persons do not include immigrants. In fact, the Supreme Court does not seem to have ruled on this specific issue (corrections welcome in comments) but historically they have been extremely loath to place limits on this. And no one except Mr. Pearce and perhaps a few of his immediate family members believes that barring citizenship to children of legal immigrants will pass Constitutional muster. And I am pretty sure that no matter how these questions come out, disallowing birth certificates would never survive a court challenge. I don't think the immigrants' home country would issue a birth certificate in such a case so we would be creating people without a country.