MARICOPA COUNT, AZ – Obama administration attorneys recently argued before the US Supreme Court that Arizona’s tough immigration bill, if allowed to stand, will cause a “mass incarceration” of Latinos. But Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says he does not see that as a problem for his jurisdiction.
“We lock up people all the time,” Arpaio said in a phone interview with CNSNews last week. “Since I started enforcement, we’ve arrested on the streets, investigated – in our jails over 51,000. I didn’t see any problem, other than the fact that some activists and politicians in Washington (don’t) like me enforcing the illegal immigration law.”
Sheriff Arpaio also isn’t concerned about overcrowding jails if the law is enforced. “I got room in the tents,” he said. “So that should never be an excuse (that) you can’t house these people.”
During oral arguments before the Justices, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli responded to Justice Antonin Scalia’s remarks that Arizona seems to be merely enacting laws that are already federal statutes. “Well, what I think they are going to do in Arizona is something quite extraordinary, that has significant, real and practical foreign relations effects,” Verrilli said. “And that’s the problem, and it’s the reason why this power needs to be vested exclusively in the federal government.”
Verrilli contends that Arizona’s “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” takes that power away from the government and gives it to the state. “And so – so, you’re going to have a situation of mass incarceration of people who are unlawfully present,” he argued. “That … poses a very serious risk of raising significant foreign relations problems.”
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law two years ago. The court is expected to rule on the case by the end of its current term this summer. Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and Utah have proposed or enacted similar legislation.