Feds cut ties with Arizona agencies, won't assist in possible illegal immigrant traffic stops

PHOENIX - The Department of Homeland Security has announced changes to its relationship with Arizona's local law enforcement following Monday's Supreme Court ruling.

Just hours after the Supreme Court released its decision on SB1070, the Obama Administration made a big move by ending existing agreements with Arizona police agencies.   

DHS officials will no longer respond to the scene of a state or local traffic stop when those agencies request help enforcing immigration law.

They will respond over the phone to help verify someone's immigration status, but they will not go to the scene unless the person is a convicted criminal, has previously been removed from the country, or is a recent border crosser.

Responding to the move, Gov. Jan Brewer said she was not surprised President Barack Obama has "once again abandoned the citizens of Arizona."

"The Obama administration has fought the people of Arizona at every turn – downplaying the threat that a porous border poses to our citizens, filing suit in order to block our state from protecting itself, unilaterally granting immunity to tens of thousands of illegal aliens living in our midst, and now this."

Read her full statement below

The other change pertains to the 287g program. The agreement allows local police to enforce immigration laws after receiving proper training.

That agreement exists between the federal government and local law enforcement in 24 states, but it will no longer be in effect in Arizona.

The seven agencies affected include: Department of Public Safety, Mesa Police Department, Florence Police Department, Pima County Sheriff's Office, Pinal County Sheriff's Office, Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, and the Phoenix Police Department.

Back in December, the federal government severed ties with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

The agreement remains intact between the DHS and local jails and the Arizona Department of Corrections which allows them to check the immigration status of inmate.

We asked each of the seven agencies for comment. Only two have responded:

Yavapai County Sheriff's Office responded that they only have two 287g positions whose duties were modified and adapted into criminal investigations and only work cases involving already suspected criminal aliens.  On the detention side – 287g remains in full force and effect at Yavapai County jails for any bookings on open criminal charges unrelated to immigration status.

Mesa Police Department responded saying they received an official letter this morning regarding the loss of the 287g agreement. They said, "It will have no real effect." They have not had an officer in that position for the past year.  As far as traffic stops are concerned, Mesa police do not call ICE for assistance in those incidents. They only call for crimes involving large groups like drop houses.

Brewer on Monday afternoon released the following statement regarding the change:

As though we needed any more evidence, President Obama has demonstrated anew his utter disregard for the safety and security of the Arizona people. Within the last two hours, I have been notified the Obama administration has revoked the 287(g) agreement under the authority of which Arizona law enforcement officers have partnered with the federal government in the enforcement of immigration law.

Of course, it is no coincidence that this announcement comes immediately on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling upholding the constitutionality of the heart of Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law: SB 1070. It's worth noting that 68 law enforcement entities in 24 states have functioning 287(g) agreements with the federal government. But it appears the only agreements eliminated today were those in Arizona, the state that happens to be on the front lines of America's fight against illegal immigration. We are on our own, apparently.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. The Obama administration has fought the people of Arizona at every turn – downplaying the threat that a porous border poses to our citizens, filing suit in order to block our State from protecting itself, unilaterally granting immunity to tens of thousands of illegal aliens living in our midst, and now this. Still, the disarmament of Arizona's 287(g) agreements is a new low, even for this administration.

Since 2006, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security credits the 287(g) program with identifying nearly 300,000 potentially-removable aliens nationwide. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has trained and certified more than 1,500 state and local officers to assist in the enforcement of immigration law, including many in Arizona. In fact, even as the President was wiping out Arizona's 287(g) agreements, the ICE website itself continued to herald the collaborative approach of the 287(g) program, noting, ‘Terrorism and criminal activity are most effectively combated through  a multi-agency/multi-authority approach that encompasses federal, state and local resources,

skills and expertise.

The President's action should be of concern to all Americans. This fight is not over. President Obama may disregard Congress. He may target individual states like Arizona. He may generally act with impunity. But he is not above judgment – and the American people will have theirs very soon.

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