Arizona sheriff out of immigration force

Dec. 14, 2009 at 12:58 AM

PHOENIX, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A controversial Arizona sheriff's department can no longer enforce federal immigration laws on the streets, U.S. officials have decided.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's department was dropped from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement "task-force model" that allowed deputies to enforce federal immigration laws, The Arizona Republic reported Sunday.

Arpaio's wide-ranging "crime-suppression" operations didn't meet ICE policy of targeting only "serious criminal aliens," officials said. ICE is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Since October, Arizona's U.S. senators, John McCain and Jon Kyl, both Republicans, have asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to reinstate Arpaio's department, the newspaper said.

"It is our desire that (the Department of Homeland Security) continue to have a productive working relationship with its local law-enforcement partners in Arizona," McCain and Kyl said in a recent letter. They asked what steps would be needed for Arpaio's department to rejoin the task force.

That would require the Arizona department "to agree to the standards that the other law-enforcement agencies have agreed to do," Napolitano told the Republic.

During his tenure, Arpaio has become a national figure, known for making jail inmates wear pink underwear and eat a tasteless, although nutritious, loaf as a punishment. More recently, he has become even better known for his hard line on illegal immigrants.

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