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Plain Talk – 8.03.10

Plain Talk – 8.03.10

Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 11:07 am
By: Nicolle Crist, Guest Columnist

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio of rural Maricopa County has made a national name for himself as “The Toughest Sheriff in America.”
He first made news by implementing chained labor gangs for men and women and reducing the number of meals inmates eat per day. His prisoners live in a tent city in the desert.
His law enforcement philosophy make the consequences dire enough and criminals will be too afraid to commit crimes.
There’s no doubt Sheriff Arpaio has significant problems in his county. Rural Arizona is brutal. The heat alone can kill an unprepared man. Add in the wildlife; the dangerous drug smuggling cartels and the human trafficking of sex workers and it’s as close to the wild west as we can get in modern America.
Unfortunately, crime in his district has increase by 58 percent while crime rates in the rest of Arizona and the country have fallen. His tough guy approach plays well for the cameras but the results don’t live up to the hype.
He’s a fantastic character for an action movie but has not successfully deterred crime. While trying to protect his home and it’s citizens, he has focused too many resources on illegal immigration, and has left other aspects of successful law enforcement unattended, specifically, 40,000 unserved federal warrants.
Critics argue that he allows convicted felons to roam free while he “hunts for illegals.”
Despite the chest thumping publicity the sheriff receives, his sole focus on immigrants as the source of all crime has left Arizona deeply divided along racial lines and the citizens of Maricopa county no safer.
Last week, Sheriff Arpaio raided a private business and released evidence that a former employee of the company had been assigned to Fort Huachuca.
To put this in context, a private company hired a janitor seven years ago and routinely assigned the man to clean buildings including a newly constructed, unoccupied building at Fort Huachuca, the largest military intelligence base in Arizona.
The man had a valid Arizona Driver’s License on file and was fired months ago after military security learned he was illegal.
Despite the facts of the case and that it was resolved back in May, here are the headlines from last week about this incident; “Illegal Immigrants May Have Infiltrated Military Post”; “Illegals Infiltrate U.S. Army Base”; “Sheriff Joe Hunts Aliens at Intelligence Post,” as a science fiction fan, that last one made me chuckle, but this is a serious issue.
It is not far fetched to wonder if a terrorist could gain access to a military base by getting a job with a sub-contractor.
But, this incident has led to no changes in military security procedures. The military has layers of security that clear new buildings for use and the spokeswoman for the base confirmed that the janitor had no access to sensitive material. 
Over the past decade there have been three to five cases of illegal immigrants found to be working for military sub-contractors. The only thing that this incident really proves, if anything, is that maybe we shouldn’t be using so many private contractors for military work.
But one look at the headlines and it’s clear that “the illegals” are something to be feared. They aren’t seen as people. “They” are all criminals hear to hurt us.
Couldn’t one of the headlines just as easily read “Local Company Fails – Puts Soldiers at Risk”? 
We are never going to make any progress as a nation if we continue to allow the immigration debate to be dominated by those who believe every single human being who crosses the border is here to attack us.
Send me your comments by email to nicolle.crist@gmail.com.
WCP 8.03.10

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