Immigrants afraid to call the police - Rep. Jared Polis, ACLU stand up to Arpaio style enforcement

In a floor speech delivered today, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis had some harsh words for the 287(g) program which grants broad immigration enforcement powers to local law enforcement agencies, holding it responsible for a "sweep of terror" that "scares victims and witnesses of crimes to avoid contacting police for fear of being mistreated."

Given Sheriff Arpaio's so called crime and immigrations sweeps over the weekend in Maricopa County, Arizona, the speech is a well planned rebuff to the administrations renewal of 67 agreements with local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration laws.

Arpaio, whose deputies had arrested 16 people last Friday on unspecified charges said, "I am the elected sheriff. I don't take orders from the federal government." And even though his agreement with the government extends only to immigration enforcement in the jails (and has been expressly removed from the streets), he continues to defy the law. To prove his point, he distributed a document that he claimed included language from Title 8 of the federal code authorizing him to conduct sweeps, which was eventually proven to come from an anti-immigrant Web site, and not from federal statute.

Notwithstanding Sheriff Arpaio's notoriety, stories of racial profiling and violations are emerging across the country.

From Cobbs County, Georgia comes a damning ACLU report showing how the 287(g) program has led to an intense mistrust of local law enforcement within their community. Individual testimonies include Joanna who once put out a fire in her kitchen herself because she was too afraid to call 911 for fear of immigration consequences. Or Jonathan, a Latino man who was shopping for jewelry for his wife at Macy's when a security guard began to follow him and called the police. Jonathan was then detained by the officer without being informed about the reason and was subsequently charged with loitering and deported, charges that were later dismissed by the district attorney. His family now lives in constant fear of the "seemingly unlimited power of the police to arrest a Latino person for any or no reason at all."

The report indicates a marked pattern to the way that the Cobb police regularly use minor traffic violations to detain immigrants, stopping them based on the color of their skin, and then denying their basic rights. Sharon, an American citizen, tells the story about her husband Angel, who was pulled over for an incomplete stop at a stop sign. He was subsequently arrested and when Sharon tried to get him out on bond, the officer told her that there was an immigration detainer on him and he could not be released. He was then transferred to a detention center while Sharon who is disabled waits for the release of her husband, whom she depends on "for everything."

It's time we listen to Members of Congress like Rep. Polis who is willing to stand up to a system that is clearly not working. Or the Law Enforcement Engagement initiative, which has many state and local law enforcement officials speaking out for immigration reform that respects fairness and due process.

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New thread on Sotomayor confirmation hearings

Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings ended today. I hardly watched any of it on tv, but I got the highlights from David Waldman's liveblogging at Congress Matters: Wednesday morning session, Wednesday afternoon session, Thursday morning session, and Thursday afternoon session.

On Wednesday Senator Chuck Grassley had a contentious exchange with Judge Sotomayor regarding a 1972 case on same-sex marriage. Tom Beaumont posted the transcript at the Des Moines Register site. Sotomayor read the case last night and answered more questions from Grassley about it today. I posted an excerpt from the transcript after the jump.

According to MSNBC reporter Norah O'Donnell, Grassley told her today that his constituents are "pretty unanimous against her," referring to Sotomayor. On what basis can he make that claim? I don't doubt that wingnuts have been working his phone lines, but I hope he doesn't expect anyone to believe that Iowans overwhelmingly oppose the confirmation of this extremely intelligent and qualified judge.

Questioning of Sotomayor concluded this morning, and outside witnesses testified this afternoon. As expected, Republicans brought in New Haven firefighter Frank Ricci.

Share any thoughts about the confirmation process in this thread. How many Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to confirm Sotomayor?

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Poster child for Sotomayor critics has litigious history

Republicans plan to have New Haven firefighter Frank Ricci testify during Judge Sonia Sotomayor's upcoming confirmation hearings. Ricci's story has become a focal point for opponents of Sotomayor, because the Supreme Court recently found in his favor in a 5-4 decision that overruled a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision involving Sotomayor. (Of course, Sotomayor's critics don't acknowledge the bigger picture of her rulings in race-related cases.)

It turns out that Ricci's quite the veteran of employment lawsuits. He sued the city of New Haven in 1995, claiming that he was discriminated against because of his dyslexia, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Ricci also went to court to fight his 1998 dismissal from Middletown's South Fire District.

Dahlia Lithwick concluded at Slate,

Ultimately, there are two ways to frame Frank Ricci's penchant for filing employment discrimination complaints: Perhaps he was repeatedly victimized by a cruel cadre of employers, first for his dyslexia, then again for his role as a whistle-blower, and then a third time for just being white. [...]

The other way to look at Frank Ricci is as a serial plaintiff--one who reacts to professional slights and setbacks by filing suit, threatening to file suit, and more or less complaining his way up the chain of command.

Or as TPM-DC's Brian Beutler observed,

[Ricci's] views on jurisprudence seem to begin and end with the proposition that legal protections against discrimination are great when they work in his favor, and unconscionable when they don't.

My hunch is that we won't hear much about Ricci's litigious history during the cable tv coverage of the Sotomayor hearings.

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DOJ Rejects Discriminatory Voter List Procedure in Ga.; Raises Concerns for New Election Law

Cross-posted at Project Vote's Voting Matters Blog

By Erin Ferns

A currently challenged provision of the Voting Rights Act requires several states with a history of discriminatory election practices to seek federal approval before changing election rules. Under this provision, the Department of Justice this week rejected a Georgia voter list maintenance procedure that it deemed both discriminatory and inaccurate, according to the Associated Press.

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Progress in Nevada? Yes, But We Still Have Work to Do!

(Cross-posted at C4O Democrats and My Silver State)

It finally happened. In case you missed last night's big news, the Nevada Legislature overrode Idiot-in-Chief Jim Gibbons' veto to make comprehensive domestic partnerships into law. Nevada is the first Mountain West state to offer legal recognition for same-sex couples, and is the first non-coastal state to do so by way of the Legislature. Believe me, I'm quite proud of "my other home state" today.

But hey, our work isn't over yet.

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