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SB1070 and HB56: A Salve To The Obama Administration’s Immigration Woes

Barack Obama and Janet Napolitano: Purporting to Save Their Own Victims

The horrific state anti-immigrant laws, such as those created in Arizona and Alabama, have been a  perfect salve to the Obama Administration’s immigration woes: they can look like heroes swooping in when in reality their actions mirror those of the States they are trying to stop.

When SB1070 was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona, Obama, never to disappoint with pulse-pounding rhetoric, declared: 

..the recent efforts in Arizona, which 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.

In fact, I’ve instructed members of my administration to closely monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other implications of this legislation.  But if we continue to fail to act at a federal level, we will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country.

Ditto when Alabama’s HB56 reared its dehumanizing head:

It’s a bad law. The idea that we have children afraid to go to school, because they feel afraid that their immigration status will lead to being detained…It’s wrong. We’re already seeing the impact in some school districts and high schools, where 20 or 25 percent of children aren’t going to class.

The president’s opposition to these state laws is surprising given that his administration has mandated “Secure Communities” nationwide. For those who do not know, Secure Communities is a federal program that requires all police departments nationwide to share fingerprints of arrestees with ICE. In other words, it creates the perfect pretext for law enforcement across the country to make dubious or unlawful arrests if they merely suspect a person is an undocumented immigrant.

Even without Secure Communities, ICE is always working in close quarters with local law enforcement to increase its ever-expanding deportation numbers. This cooperation  inevitably leads to the potential for civil rights violations i.e. unlawful discrimination against Latinos and other minorities who appear to be foreign.

Fear already blankets the undocumented’s landscape, in no small part due to President Obama’s actions. Trust between police and their communities is already severed in so many places, especially in Arizona’s Maricopa County.


Up until the Department of Justice’s official report announcing Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s as an unrepentant racist and abuser of power, the Obama administration allowed MCSO to work as surrogate ICE officers at their 4th avenue jail. To be absolutely clear: ICE allowed MCSO to exercise immigration enforcement powers. It was more than just mere cooperation, it was an active power delegated from ICE to MCSO.

The administration has tried to evade its involvement as accomplices to MCSO’s civil rights violations. AILA, an Obama apologist, announced the DOJ result as such:  “Not just anecdotal reports: Arizona Sheriff’s Office Unfairly Targeted Latinos, Justice Dept. Says:”

The evidence that Arpaio and co. were unfairly targeting Latinos and abusing their powers in a manner that Hugo Chavez would be proud was not just anecdotal. 

Lest we forget, there are currently two Department of Justice investigations into the MCSO: one involving civil rights violations and the other abuse of power. If one does their due diligence, one will find evidence that is more than just anecdotal. It is damning.

In 2009, Joe Arpaio and the county attorney at the time, Andrew Thomas, were steamrolling anyone who presented an obstacle to their immigration enforcement obsession, even if it included an attempt to destroy the judiciary.

To wit: Thomas and Arpaio charged the county’s presiding criminal court judge, Gary Donahue, with bribery, obstructing a criminal investigation, and hindering prosecution. The problem? There was literally no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Judge Donahue.

Later they had to drop the charges, when a judge disqualified Thomas from prosecuting and held that Thomas had allied himself with Sheriff Arpaio and “misused the power of his office” by targeting opponents with criminal investigations.

A court of law concluded that Arpaio was abusing the power of his office. This was not an anecdotal news report. Yet the Obama administration continued to allow MCSO to work as an extension of its federal power. They were complicit in the wrongs committed by Sheriff Joe.

There is also the video captured of MCSO deputies unlawfully arresting Sal Reza, who coincidentally happens to be adamantly against Arpaio’s immigration crusade. There is much more evidence of MCSO’s rottenness that is not anectodal. 

To come full circle: The Obama Administration has been an accomplice to the worst of state immigration enforcers, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Their attempts to feign outrage at laws such as SB1070 and HB56 is laughable. Rather, just political.

The federal lawsuits against the anti-immigrant state laws are nothing more than a thinly veiled PR stunt to appear as heroes to their own victims.


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