Saturday, December 27, 2008

Roping in Sheriff Joe

A new attempt is being made to rope in the maverick sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. Sheriff Joe Arpaio calls out his deputies and volunteer posse for "crime sweeps' of heavily Hispanic neighborhoods. They'll stop anyone for the slightest infraction and, if he or she happens to be without papers, they're turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- almost 1,500 already. Those booked at Sheriff Joe's county jail, however trivial the offense, if they are without papers are also turned over to ICE. Sheriff Joe has a contract with Homeland Security. Many immigrant advocates have denounced this practice and have gone to court, charging "racial profiling". They have been joined by Mayor Phil Gordon of Phoenix and now by the Arizona Civil Rights Advisory Board. They have asked Homeland Security to rescind Sheriff Joe's contract. He protests he's only doing his job faithfully and effectively. But since he mostly stops Hispanics and does his sweeps in their neighborhoods, his critics are asking federal courts to stop all sweeps. The Arizona Civil Rights Advisory Board members, incidentally, are selected and appointed by the governor -- in this case, Janet Napolitano, the Obama nominee to be new Secretary of Homeland Security. (See Arizona Republic article.)
One Way Ticket Back to Mexico

ICE is not the only one's issuing one-way tickets back to Mexico. Many
immigrants, laid off their jobs or facing foreclosure, are returning to
their hometowns in Mexico for the holidays -- and intend not to come
back. The Washington Post reported travel agents have seen a jump in
one-way tickets (see posting on the blog for Dec.22, 2008). And the
Chicago Tribune hitch a ride in a Ford pick-up to Michoacan. "It's the economy.
Experts think the phenomenon is real, but not that large or permanent. It's just
one more indication of the slowdown in the movement to the north and its adverse
effect on the Mexican economy -- especially the reduces flow of remittances.

Citizenship Backlog Shrinking

The Washington Post reports that the Citizenship and
Immigration Services -- a notoriously inefficient and cumbersome
bureaucracy -- has reduced the waiting time for the swearing in as citizen from
18 months to 10. But editorially the paper felt that's no big deal.
USCIS had promise by this time to bring it down to 5 months. The backlog
is still enormous -- still almost a half million. The Post urges the new
administration and Congress to give USCIS more money, so that it can
speed the process and lift the burden of paying extravagant fees off the
backs of the applicants.

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