Alberto R. Gonzales: What is Fair for Undocumented Children?

Written By Alberto Gonzales

Published February 28, 2012

Fox News Latino


For a long time, our federal government failed to protect our borders from unlawful migration. One result of this failure is an underclass of children brought here unlawfully by their parents. These children, mostly Mexican, are raised in our country; they have learned our language, studied our history, and are educated in our schools. The influences in our society that shape the values of all American children shape the values of these children.

When these undocumented children graduate from high school, they are confronted with a harsh reality; there is no future for them here in America or in the country where they were born. Although they did not choose to enter America unlawfully, they are branded as lawbreakers who should be deported. Though America is the only home they have ever known, they are told they must return to a land that is foreign to them.

How should our country deal with these young adults when they graduate from high school? One proposal would allow those who meet certain requirements and either attend college or serve in the military to remain lawfully in our country. Opponents argue that to provide any pathway to legal status will reward the unlawful conduct of the parents and are unfair to families who abide by the rules and wait patiently to enter lawfully theUnited States. Our sense of fairness should tell us that it is not right to punish children for the sins of their parents; a value that is the basis of a provision in our Constitution, which limits punishment of the children of parents who commit treason against the United States.

Thousands of Immigrant Children Write to Obama

We are a nation of laws, and the sovereign has a duty to its citizens to protect our borders, particularly in a post-911 world. This will require a comprehensive plan that ensures border security, enhances workplace enforcement, and updates our VISA program to meet better our economic needs. The plan will also have to address the millions of undocumented immigrants who chose to break the law in pursuit of a better life, and the tens of thousands of children who did not make that choice, but who, too, are in America enjoying a better life.

The focus of immigration reform should be on pursuing security and promoting our economy. However, we should endeavor to find a solution consistent with our values of fairness and compassion for those who do follow the law and those innocents who had no choice.

Alberto R. Gonzales is the former United States Attorney General and the former Counsel to President George W. Bush. He is currently the Doyle Rogers Distinguished Chair of Law at Belmont University, Of Counsel at the Nashville law firm of Waller Lansden, and a regular columnist for Fox News Latino.


A A AComments (155)By Ray Stern Thursday, Feb 16 2012

Late 2005 to October 2007 was not a good time to be raped or molested in El Mirage.

Levalya Beyart of El Mirage says that after her daughter reported being raped in 2007, the Sheriff’s Office told her, “This [is] not a priority.”

During that time, the town had signed a contract to pay the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office $3.6 million for police services. ButSheriff Joe Arpaio didn’t use the money to bolster his sex-crimes unit. Instead, the publicity-hungry sheriff’s focus, as always, was on political witch hunts and pet projects that got his name in lights.

Victims of sex crimes — mostly children — in the town and throughout the county still are paying for Arpaio’s misguided policies. Rapists and child molesters got away with their crimes.

On August 23, 2006, for example, Francisca Vasquez called El Mirage police to report that her 26-year-old cousin had impregnated her 13-year-old daughter. The police agency had retained some of its own police officers even as the Sheriff’s Office provided detectives, deputies, and an administrative staff for the town — and one of these municipal officers rolled out to the family’s home at 13810 North Alto Street.

Vasquez and a male friend stood in the front yard, hugging a crying girl. The girl, who was 12 when she’d had sex with the older man, said she hadn’t mentioned the encounter earlier because she was afraid of her mom’s cousin.

The suspect recently had moved to Tennessee to work, and the family was confident they’d be able to help track him down.

The El Mirage officer recorded interviews with the family and impounded them into evidence. The routine at that time, because of the MCSO contract, was to turn over such a case to Arpaio’s Special Victims Unit, also called the sex-crimes unit.

You’d think such a case would be easily solved with a paternity test.

But the case wasn’t worked by Arpaio’s officers and was returned to El Mirage after the town ended its contract with the MCSO in October 2007.

El Mirage Detective Hector Encinas, one of the officers assigned to review dozens of similar cases, went to the address in April 2008 but found that the family had moved. Neighbors didn’t know where they were. The case was closed.

On March 1, 2007, an 11-year-old girl at El Mirage Elementary School told friends that her grandmother’s live-in boyfriend had sexually assaulted her two years earlier, when she was 9.

Her horrified friends spilled the story to a tutor, who told the principal. A school counselor interviewed the girl before calling police.

The girl recalled awakening one night to find her grandmother’s boyfriend standing next to her, dressed only in boxer shorts. He walked out of the room, then came back fully naked “and attempted to put his penis in her mouth,” according to the police report.

An additional summary report compiled by El Mirage police in December 2008 states that on different occasions, “other sex crimes [against the girl by the same man] may have occurred.”

The case was assigned to the MCSO sex-crimes unit, where it languished. It was put on permanent hold by El Mirage in 2008 after police couldn’t find the family. Had the numerous leads been followed quickly, the assailant might well be behind bars now.

Such cases aren’t always clear-cut. Victims sometimes don’t tell the truth. But serious allegations of violent crimes must be investigated, for the safety of the community. And under Joe Arpaio’s watch, that seldom was the case with sex crimes.

Levalya Beyart, a social worker and single mother who wanted her name used in this article, remembers the horror she felt when she opened the front door of her modest home in a gated community in El Mirage on July 11, 2007.

Her mentally challenged 13-year-old daughter, who had been home alone, was “walking around in a daze,” she told New Times.

The girl was naked from the waist down, and her body was scratched and bruised.

The living room was “torn up,” says Beyart. “You could tell there had been some kind of struggle.”

At first, she thought her daughter might have suffered a “flashback” to sexual abuse by a family member more than a year earlier.

But after Beyart got the girl to calm down, her daughter told a story that “sounded believable” to the mother.

Beyart’s daughter said a stranger had come to the door in the afternoon, begging to use the phone because his car had broken down. She let him in, and he attacked and raped her.

Beyart phoned police and reported the incident, records show. She says an El Mirage officer showed up at her home and drove the mother and daughter to a crisis center in Glendale, where a nurse conducted a forensic exam.

Some blood was found on the girl’s genitals, but the nurse believed it was possibly because the teen was beginning her first period. Only the theory wasn’t correct, because the girl didn’t start menstruating until months later.

A few days passed, and Beyart became concerned that nobody was taking the case seriously.

She was right.

Records show that it quickly was assigned to detectives from the MCSO sex-crimes unit — who never even bothered to interview Beyart’s daughter.

Beyart was given an MCSO detective’s number to call. She doesn’t remember his name. But she’ll never forget what he told her.

Undocumented New Mexicans Can Still Get Driver’s Licenses

Latin American Herald Tribune – February 19,2012

TUCSON, Arizona – Undocumented immigrants in New Mexico still have the right to get driver’s licenses, after Republican Gov. Susana Martinez failed for a third time to repeal the 2003 law authorizing the issuance of licenses to people without Social Security numbers.

The state legislature ended its session Thursday rejecting a bill to undo the 2003 measure.

The controversial bill was approved by the lower house, but was later defeated by the Democratic-majority Senate, which instead passed alternative legislation imposing harsher penalties on people who commit fraud when applying for a license and reduces the length of time the document is valid.

For now, New Mexico remains one of the three states where undocumented migrants can obtain driver’s licenses. “It’s a great victory for the immigrant community,” Marcela Diaz, director of the organization Somos un Pueblo Unido (We Are a United People), told Efe from Santa Fe, the state capital.

For the activist, the message being send is very clear – that New Mexico is a “friendlier” state toward immigrants and it won’t play games with public safety.

“This has been a battle like David and Goliath, because the funds we have don’t compare with the funds the governor used to promote this bill,” Diaz said.

Martinez is promoting an anti-immigrant political agenda that is part of a national drive by the Republican Party, according to Diaz, who said that while immigration is a controversial subject that divides communities, up to now the extremists haven’t achieved their goal in New Mexico.

“What the state Senate did was important, because it said that if the point is to prevent fraud and protect public safety, it’s possible to pass reasonable regulations and statutes to combat fraud,” Diaz said.

“What we want to do is protect immigrant families who live here, work here, and whose kids study here,” she said.

Martinez has said she will veto any bill that would continue to grant driver’s licenses to the undocumented.

Diaz believes that the governor “took off her mask” when she talked of vetoing any kind of agreement, since what she wants is “all or nothing.”

“We see that the governor is not interested in public safety – this is an immigration issue, it is definitely an attack on our families,” Diaz said.

Last July, Martinez announced a program aimed at checking the addresses of 10,000 suspected undocumented immigrants who have obtained driver’s licenses in New Mexico.

The Republican governor says that licenses have turned New Mexico into a “magnet” for the undocumented, who come from other states for the sole purpose of obtaining a driver’s license. EFE

New CPS investigative unit unanimously approved in committee

By Gary Grado

Published: February 10, 2012 at 4:21 pm

The House Judiciary Committee took the first steps Thursday in creating a new unit of investigators dedicated to high-priority child abuse and neglect cases, a cornerstone measure recommended by the Child Safety Task Force.

Department of Economic Security Director Clarence Carter and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery told the committee the investigators will get police training from the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board, but they won’t be certified police officers, and they will be given authority to remove children from the home.

They would work under the Office of Child Welfare Investigations, which would be created under HB2721. The Judiciary Committee approved the bill in an 8-0 vote.

Gov. Jan Brewer has recommended an initial crop of 28 investigators, which Carter said would initially cost $2 million and would eventually grow to 50 investigators.

Montgomery, who co-chaired the task force with Carter, said the idea is to have investigators who would be well-versed in both police work and Child Protective Services policies to respond to calls coming into the abuse hotline. They will be better equipped to determine whether the police need to get involved and whether further services are necessary for the family.

“We’ll get better calls upfront,” Montgomery said.

The task force, sparked by a spate of high-profile child deaths in 2011, met several times throughout November and December. Montgomery said a contributing factor in many child deaths is an inadequate initial assessment.

Carter said most of the task force recommendations won’t require legislation and the creation of the investigative unit didn’t either, but the legislation was necessary so it wouldn’t be “left to the vagaries” of future administrations.

Carter has said the two most critical recommendations of the task force were creating the investigative unit and revamping the abuse hotline.

Other recommendations included giving CPS workers with college degrees pay raises, creating a forum where employees speak openly about the agency without fear of reprisal and operate under the presumption that records and reports are public record.

The task force also recommended installing improved data services that CPS, county attorneys and the attorney general could share, as well as improving the sharing of information related to abusers who are not “in a primary relationship to the primary victim.”


Tough plans not expected to clear Arizona Legislature

by Alia Beard Rau – Feb. 12, 2012 10:23 PM
The Republic |

Last year, Alabama surpassed Arizona in imposing tough measures targeting illegal immigration by passing a law that does everything Senate Bill 1070 does and more.

This year, some Republican Arizona lawmakers hope to reclaim the reputation for having the toughest illegal-immigration laws in the nation.

Lawmakers have revived legislation that would require school districts to document the number of illegal-immigrant children in public schools and require hospital staff to report illegal immigrants seeking care.

But the bills’ chances of success are slim. Similar bills failed in the Legislature last year, and momentum for such measures seems to have faded as Republicans focus on the economy, jobs and upcoming elections.

Alabama is the only state in the nation to require schools to check legal status of students; however, the Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit halted the enforcement of that part of the law in October.

No other state requires hospitals to check and report legal status.

Other states, including Missouri and Georgia, are considering similar measures this year.

In Arizona, this year’s bills reflect the intent of SB 1070, which states a goal of “attrition through enforcement,” making the laws so tough that illegal immigrants choose to leave Arizona or not come here at all.

Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, is the sponsor of Senate Bill 1444, which would require school districts to collect data on the number of illegal-immigrant students, and Senate Bill 1445, which would require hospital personnel to notify police of any illegal-immigrant patients and compile an annual report of data on those patients. The bills would not prevent schools from teaching students or doctors from providing medical treatment.

Rep. Carl Seel, R-Phoenix, sponsored House Bill 2489, which would force public schools to collect data on the number of illegal-immigrant students. Schools could not include those students in calculations used to determine per-student state funding.

Smith said his goal is to calculate how much state taxpayers spend educating and caring for illegal immigrants.

“As taxpayers, we have a right to know,” he said.

Nationally, the push to count illegal-immigrant students has been based on an effort to get the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn its 1982Plyler vs. Doe ruling requiring states to educate children who are in the country illegally. The court essentially ruled that states must educate all children unless a state can show a substantial negative impact. Some believe that documenting a state’s financial impact from educating illegal immigrants could prove a substantial state interest.

The Arizona bills are considered a long shot.

Former Sen. Russell Pearce, who lost a recall election in the fall, isn’t around this year to shepherd them through the process. Pearce authored SB 1070, served as Senate president last year and for years has been a powerful political proponent of illegal-immigration-enforcement measures.

Also, Republican senators who voted down the same bills last year are still here this year. Their opposition was primarily based on the business community’s testimony that the bills would be bad for business and jobs in Arizona.

Legislative leaders have assigned the bills to two committees each, and committee chairs must schedule them for public hearings in both committees before the full chamber can consider them. Typically, multiple committee assignments is a sign that leadership doesn’t support a bill. Generally, it’s tougher for bills with multiple committee assignments to pass.

The committee chairs have not yet scheduled any of the bills for public hearings.

But Smith said neither the Appeals Court ruling against Alabama’s law nor Arizona’s legislative hurdles will deter him. He said there are many ways to get bills before the full chamber for consideration.

Both Smith and Seel have several placeholder bills they could use as “strikers.” Late in the session, lawmakers could take these innocuous bills, if they are still alive, strike out the bill’s language and replace it with wording that does something entirely different.

Anjali Abraham, public-policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said she’s watching the bills this year but isn’t concerned about their success in any form.

“I think there are enough people who want to move on from this kind of thing and focus on jobs and the economy and other issues,” Abraham said.

But even if the bills don’t pass, Abraham said their existence alone is damaging, particularly for Arizona schoolchildren. She said not only do parents become afraid to enroll children who aren’t in the country legally, but illegal-immigrant parents whose children are legal also become fearful.

“Every time one of these bills is proposed, it has a chilling effect on people enrolling children in school, even if the child is a U.S. citizen and has every right in the world to receive the education they are promised,” she said.

Smith said the education bill should not cause concern in the immigrant community.

“We are not deporting them; we’re just collecting data,” he said. “It’s just numbers.”

Arizona bill would restrict recall elections

Party-specific vote would be held, then runoff if necessaryThe Republic | 13,2012Senate Republicans hope to avoid a repeat of the recall election that ousted Sen. Russell Pearce in November.The state Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday passed Senate Bill 1449, which would require recall elections to consist of a party-specific primary and then, if necessary, a runoff in which all voters could participate, similar to regular partisan elections.Currently, recall elections require only a single election in which all candidates and all voters can participate.The single-election recall process tends to benefit more politically moderate candidates.In the Pearce recall, the winner, Sen. Jerry Lewis, R-Mesa, garnered votes from Democrats, Republicans and independents. SB 1449 could potentially exclude some voters, benefiting more conservative Republicans or more liberal Democrats.For example, the Pearce recall consisted of two official candidates, both Republicans. Under the bill, a Republican primary would have chosen the winner. Because there were only two candidates, there would be no runoff, and Democrats and independents would never have voted.Bill sponsor Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, said the bill is not just to help Republicans but would benefit any party facing a recall.
“It’s just to revert back to the primary system as it would in any other election we have in the state,” he said.

But Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, opposed the idea that some voters could be excluded from participating.

“Democrats and independents could sign the recall petition but could not vote,” Gallardo said, also using the Pearce recall as an example.

Sen. Adam Driggs, R-Phoenix, also voted against the bill.

“We’re all looking at District 18. I struggle to change laws based on one example,” he said. “I don’t understand the need.”

The bill still needs a vote of the full Senate before going to the House.


By James Eng,

One blunder on top of another?

The mayor of East Haven, Conn., came under a torrent of criticism Wednesday for telling a TV reporter “I might have tacos” when asked about how he would support the Latino community in the aftermath of the arrest of four town police officers accused of racially profiling and bullying Latino residents.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called Mayor Joseph Maturo’s comments “repugnant” and “unacceptable.” An attorney for some Latinos suing the town police department called the comments “appalling.” Some residents said the mayor should step down.

Maturo sought to backtrack Wednesday, issuing a statement of public apology.

“My sincerest apologies go out to the East Haven community and, in particular, the Latino community for the insensitive and off-collar comment that I made to WPIX reporter Mario Diaz yesterday regarding the recent events affecting our community and our police department,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, I let the stress of the situation get the best of me and inflamed what is already a serious and unfortunate situation. I regret my insensitive comment and realize that it is my job to lead by example. “

Maturo did not return a telephone call from for additional comment.

The public fiasco began Tuesday with the announcement by federal officials that the FBI had arrested four East Haven police officers on charges that they conspired to deprive some residents, particularly Latinos, of their constitutional rights. The charges include multiple counts of excessive force, false arrest, obstruction and conspiracy.

Latinos make up about 10 percent of East Haven’s population of the town’s population of about 28,000. Yet out of a police force of 50, only one speaks Spanish, according to local media reports.

WPIX reporter Mario Diaz later interviewed the mayor about the arrests.

At one point in the exchange, Diaz asked Maturo: “What are you doing for the Latino community today?”

The mayor replied on camera: “I might have tacos when I go home. I’m not quite sure yet.”

Later, Diaz said, the mayor came over to him and apologized, saying his comments were out of context. Maturo explained that he had a long day of interviews, and that he meant no harm by what he called a “flippant” remark.

On Wednesday, Maturo sought to limit damage from the incident. In addition to publicly apologizing, his statement said his administration has already taken steps to “begin that healing process.”

He said he recently commissioned a new advisory panel to recommend policy and procedure changes to the Board of Police Commissioners. And he said he appointed Jose Velasquez, a community volunteer and native of Puerto Rico, to the new panel.

“I apologize, again, for my insensitive comments yesterday and recognize that they are a hindrance to the progress that must be made in our community,” Maturo said. “I am dedicated to the principles of tolerance and acceptance of all and will do all that I can to foster those principles in the daily execution of my duties as mayor.”

Malloy called Maturo’s “tacos” remarks “repugnant.”

“They represent either a horrible lack of judgment or worse, an underlying insensitivity to our Latino community that is unacceptable. Being tired is no excuse,” the governor said in a statement.

David Rosen, an attorney representing several Latino residents and business owners suing the East Haven police department for alleged civil rights violations, said Maturo’s comments were “appalling.”

“It just makes your heart sink to hear it and to see it. I can only hope that it will be a wakeup call to the townspeople of East Haven who are finding themselves represented this way by their elected officials and elements of their police department,” Rosen told in a telephone interview.

As to whether the mayor should resign, Rosen said: “I think it’s up to the people of East Haven what the mayor’s future should be.”

Resign is exactly what some East Haven residents want the mayor to do.

A Facebook was started Wednesday titled “East Haven Taxpayers Calling For Mayor Maturo to Resign.”

Matt DeRienzo, group editor of Journal Register Company’s publications in Connecticut, including the New Haven Register, Middletown Press, Register Citizen and Connecticut Magazine, wrote in a column Wednesday that Maturo’s “blatantly racist, ignorant and arrogant slur” was “an embarrassment to the community.

“Let’s not mince words,” DeRienzo wrote.

“The thin translation of Maturo’s taco comment is, ‘I am a full human being and you are less than one.’”



Tucson schools bans books by Chicano and Native American authors
Posted by Brenda Norrell – January 14, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Banned books fuels calls for revolution in Tucson. Native authors in banned book include Leslie Marmon Silko, Buffy Sainte Marie and Winona LaDuke

By Brenda Norrell

Breaking news: Updated Sunday with response from banned author Roberto Rodriguez

TUCSON — Outrage was the response to the news that Tucson schools has banned books, including “Rethinking Columbus,” with an essay by award-winning Pueblo author Leslie Marmon Silko, who lives in Tucson, and works by Buffy Sainte Marie, Winona LaDuke, Leonard Peltier and Rigoberta Menchu.

The decision to ban books follows the 4 to 1 vote on Tuesday by the Tucson Unified School District board to succumb to the State of Arizona, and forbid Mexican American Studies, rather than fight the state decision.

Students said the banned books were seized from their classrooms and out of their hands, after Tucson schools banned Mexican American Studies, including a book of photos of Mexico. Crying, students said it was like Nazi Germany, and they were unable to sleep since it happened.

The banned book, “Rethinking Columbus,” includes work by many Native Americans, as Debbie Reese reports, the book includes:

Suzan Shown Harjo’s “We Have No Reason to Celebrate”
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “My Country, ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying”
Joseph Bruchac’s “A Friend of the Indians”
Cornel Pewewardy’s “A Barbie-Doll Pocahontas”
N. Scott Momaday’s “The Delight Song of Tsoai-Talee”
Michael Dorris’s “Why I’m Not Thankful for Thanksgiving”
Leslie Marmon’s “Ceremony”
Wendy Rose’s “Three Thousand Dollar Death Song”
Winona LaDuke’s “To the Women of the World: Our Future, Our Responsibility”

The now banned reading list of the Tucson schools’ Mexican American Studies includes two books by Native American author Sherman Alexie and a book of poetry by O’odham poet Ofelia Zepeda.

Jeff Biggers writes in Salon:

The list of removed books includes the 20-year-old textbook “Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years,” which features an essay by Tucson author Leslie Silko. Recipient of a Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas Lifetime Achievement Award and a MacArthur Foundation genius grant, Silko has been an outspoken supporter of the ethnic studies program.

Biggers said Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest,” was also banned during the meeting this week. Administrators told Mexican-American studies teachers to stay away from any class units where “race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes.”

Other banned books include “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by famed Brazilian educator Paolo Freire and “Occupied America: A History of Chicanos” by Rodolfo Acuña, two books often singled out by Arizona state superintendent of public instruction John Huppenthal, who campaigned in 2010 on the promise to “stop la raza.” Huppenthal, who once lectured state educators that he based his own school principles for children on corporate management schemes of the Fortune 500, compared Mexican-American studies to Hitler Jugend indoctrination last fall.

Bill Bigelow, co-author of Rethinking Columbus, writes:

Imagine our surprise.
Rethinking Schools learned today that for the first time in its more-than-20-year history, our book Rethinking Columbus was banned by a school district: Tucson, Arizona …

As I mentioned to Biggers when we spoke, the last time a book of mine was outlawed was during the state of emergency in apartheid South Africa in 1986, when the regime there banned the curriculum I’d written, Strangers in Their Own Country, likely because it included excerpts from a speech by then-imprisoned Nelson Mandela. Confronting massive opposition at home and abroad, the white minority government feared for its life in 1986. It’s worth asking what the school authorities in Arizona fear today.

Roberto Rodriguez, professor at University of Arizona, is also among the nation’s top Chicano and Latino authors on the Mexican American Studies reading list. Rodriguez’ column about this week’s school board decision, posted at Censored News, is titled: “Tucson school officials caught on tape ‘urinating’ on Mexican students.”

Rodriguez responded to Narco New about the ban on Sunday.

“The attacks in Arizona are mind-boggling. To ban the teaching of a discipline is draconian in and of itself. However, there is also now a banned books list that accompanies the ban. I believe 2 of my books are on the list, which includes: Justice: A Question of Race and The X in La Raza. Two others may also be on the list,” Rodriguez said.

“That in itself is jarring, but we need to remember the proper context. This is not simply a book-banning; according to Tom Horne, the former state scools’ superintendent who designed HB 2281, this is part of a civilizational war. He determined that Mexican American Studies is not based on Greco-Roman knowledge and thus, lies outside of Western Civilization.

“In a sense, he is correct. The philosophical foundation for MAS is a maiz-based philosophy that is both, thousands of years old and Indigenous to this continent. What has just happened is akin to an Auto de Fe — akin to the 1562 book-burning of Maya books in 1562 at Mani, Yucatan. At TUSD, the list of banned books will total perhaps 50 books, including artwork and posters.

“For us here in Tucson, this is not over. If anything, the banning of books will let the world know precisely what kind of mindset is operating here; in that previous era, this would be referred to as a reduccion (cultural genocide) of all things Indigenous. In this era, it can too also be see as a reduccion.”

The reading list includes world acclaimed Chicano and Latino authors, along with Native American authors. The list includes books by Corky Gonzales, along with Sandra Cisneros’ “The House on Mango Street;” Jimmy Santiago Baca’s “Black Mesa Poems,“ and L.A. Urreas’ “The Devil’s Highway.“ The authors include Henry David Thoreau and the popular book “Like Water for Chocolate.”

On the reading list are Native American author Sherman Alexie’s books, “Ten Little Indians,“ and “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven.“ O’odham poet and professor Ofelia Zepeda’s “Ocean Power, Poems from the Desert” is also on the list.
DA Morales writes in Three Sonorans, at Tucson Citizen, about the role of state schools chief John Huppenthal. “Big Brother Huppenthal has taken his TEA Party vows to take back Arizona… take it back a few centuries with official book bans that include Shakespeare!”

Feds to Release Findings in Probe of Arizona Sheriff Arpaio

Published December 15, 2011/Associated Press
Dec. 5, 2011: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio discusses the latest in the document release on his office’s handling of many sexual assault cases over the years in El Mirage, Ariz., during a news conference, in Phoenix. Federal authorities plan to announce their findings Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011 in a civil rights investigation of Arpaio, who has been accused of using discriminatory tactics in its signature immigration patrols.

PHOENIX – Federal authorities plan to announce their findings Thursday in a civil rights investigation of an Arizona sheriff’s office accused of using discriminatory tactics in its signature immigration patrols.

The U.S. Justice Department has been investigating Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office since June 2008 for alleged discrimination, unconstitutional searches and seizures, and for having an English-only policy in his jails that discriminates against people with limited English skills.

The self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America has been a national political fixture who has built his reputation on jailing inmates in tents and dressing them in pink underwear, selling himself to voters as unceasingly tough on crime and pushing the bounds of how far local police can go to confront illegal immigration.

The federal agency had previously provided little details of its probe, but Arpaio believed the inquiry was focused on the 20 immigration patrols known as “sweeps” that his office has conducted since January 2008.

During the patrols, deputies flood an area of a city — in some cases, heavily Latino areas — over several days to seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders. Illegal immigrants accounted for 57 percent of the 1,500 people arrested in the sweeps, according to figures provided by Arpaio’s office.

Critics said Arpaio’s deputies target people during the patrols for minor traffic infractions based on their skin color so they can ask for proof of citizenship. Arpaio denied the allegation, saying people are stopped if deputies have probable cause to believe they have committed crimes and that deputies later find many of them are illegal immigrants.

Apart from the civil rights probe, a federal grand jury also has been investigating Arpaio’s office on criminal abuse-of-power allegations since at least December 2009 and is specifically examining the investigative work of the sheriff’s anti-public corruption squad.

The squad’s cases against two county officials and a judge collapsed in court before going to trial and have been criticized by politicians at odds with the sheriff as trumped up. Arpaio has defended the investigations as a valid attempt at rooting out corruption in county government.

More than any other local police boss in the nation, Arpaio has pushed the bounds of what local officers can do to crack down on illegal immigration.

He began doing immigration enforcement in 2005 after the Legislature passed a ban on immigrant smuggling and voters became frustrated over the problems from the state’s porous border. He set up a hotline to report immigration violations.

Over nearly the last three years, he has raided 56 businesses suspected of breaking a state law by knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. The raids led to more than 370 criminal arrests of illegal immigrants accused of using fake documents to get jobs and in two civil cases against employers for illegal hiring.

Arpaio had 100 deputies specially trained so they could make federal immigration arrests, but U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in October 2009 stripped them of that power. A defiant Arpaio continued his immigration efforts by using state laws.

Critics have said Arpaio has demonized illegal immigrants in a bid to win support from voters. His supporters said the sheriff is the only local police boss who has really done anything about illegal immigration.

The sheriff has complained that the civil rights investigation is politically motivated, singling out Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, who in the spring of 2008 had asked the Justice Department to investigate Arpaio’s immigration efforts.

During its investigation, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit alleging that Arpaio’s office wouldn’t hand over records and wouldn’t give access to jails, employees and inmates. The lawsuit was settled this summer after getting cooperation from the sheriff’s office.

A separate lawsuit in which a handful of Hispanics alleged racial profiling in Arpaio’s sweeps remains alive in federal court.

The judge in that case found grounds to sanction the sheriff’s office for having thrown away and shredded officers’ records of traffic stops made during the sweeps, but hasn’t yet imposed a penalty.

The sheriff’s office said the destruction of records was an honest error that sprung from a top official not telling others in his office to preserve the documents.

Later, some sweeps-related emails that were thought to have been deleted by the sheriff’s office turned out to have been saved by the county as part of an unrelated lawsuit.

Among the huge volume of saved emails were some that showed some deputies circulated offensive jokes about Mexicans.

New sex crime arises after Ariz. sheriff’s office fails to investigate

New sex crime arises after Ariz. sheriff’s office fails to investigate
By Ryan Gabrielson | Center for Investigative Reporting | December 11, 2011

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio listens to County Attorney Andrew Thomas as they defend his department in 2009. East Valley Tribune file photo.

While admitting that it mishandled more than 400 investigations into rapes and sexual assaults, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office claims its failures did not lead to additional crimes.

But in the pile of ignored cases is the alleged rape of a 17-year-old girl in 2006. Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s detectives largely disregarded the case, according to police records, never questioning the suspect, the accuser or any potential witnesses. The investigation was classified as “inactive.”

Two years after that incident, the suspect in that case, Armando De La Rosa, admitted to having sex with a 14-year-old girl, when he was 20, records show. He was later convicted of attempted sexual conduct with a minor – a plea agreement because he had no previous felonies on his record.

The family of the 14-year-old girl now blames Arpaio’s office for failing to protect their daughter by ignoring the first case.

“They did, in our case they did directly,” the father said in an interview. The Center for Investigative Reporting does not publish the names of sexual assault victims or their relatives.

Arpaio, self-described as “America’s toughest sheriff,” is a powerful figure in national politics because of his intense focus on illegal immigration and his controversial tactics, which have included forcing prisoners to wear pink underwear. When he endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry for the Republican presidential nomination earlier this month, the story was broadcast on Fox News and CNN.

But Arpaio has faced strong criticism, and a few calls for his resignation, as more details have been reported about his office’s mishandling of sex crime investigations. The sheriff is finishing his fifth term, with plans to run again.

In a series of Pulitzer Prize-winning stories, the East Valley Tribune in 2008 detailed problems with rape and other violent crime cases under Arpaio’s watch. On Sunday, the Associated Press followed with an article detailing sex abuse cases involving young children that Arpaio’s office left incomplete.

The most recent story prompted Arpaio to apologize this week to the victims, “if there were any victims,” he added.

The sheriff’s office confirms that from 2005 to 2007, its special victims unit failed to investigate 432 alleged sex crimes. Detectives improperly closed more than 200 of those investigations as though they’d been solved. Roughly 70 came out of the city of El Mirage, northwest of Phoenix, where the sheriff’s office had a contract to provide patrol services and criminal investigative work.

The sheriff’s office opened an internal affairs investigation of its special victims unit in May 2008. That probe is open and still moving toward completion, said Deputy Chief Brian Sands. “It’s gonna be real soon.”

Arpaio and his top officials have said they have thoroughly examined those dropped cases, finding no evidence that errors by the sheriff’s office put the public at risk.

“We looked very hard,” Deputy Chief Jerry Sheridan said at a press conference Monday, “and we could not find anyone we thought was revictimized because the detectives let some of these cases languish.”

In a written statement, Arpaio’s office said it was not aware that De La Rosa was the suspect in the El Mirage investigation or that he had been convicted in a later case. “I cannot make a connection between the cases you brought to my attention,” Lt. Justin Griffin, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, wrote.

But the police case file, obtained from the El Mirage Police Department in 2008, clearly includes the suspect’s full name and date of birth.

De La Rosa was first accused of a sex crime in June 2006.

A 17-year-old girl was hanging out at a friend’s house in El Mirage when another guest, De La Rosa, forced her to have sex, according to her family’s statements to police. De La Rosa was 18 at the time.

The girl’s parents gave police the suspect’s name and address, as well as the address of the friend’s house, the police file shows. The information then was handed to the sheriff’s special victims unit in July of that year. Griffin said his office had only the suspect’s first name.

El Mirage formed its own police department in late 2007 and received boxes of pending investigations back from Arpaio’s office, including the alleged assault against the 17-year-old girl.

The cases were woefully incomplete, El Mirage Detective Jerry Laird wrote in the investigative files. Laird documented his attempts to interview the victim and others. “So far those efforts have been negative,” he wrote.

So little work was done on the case that it is unclear if De La Rosa and others even knew they were involved in a rape investigation.

Reached by phone Wednesday, the owner of the house where the alleged crime took place said she’d never spoken to sheriff’s detectives. “I have no clue what you’re talking about,” she said.

The Center for Investigative Reporting made calls for comment to every individual listed in the El Mirage police report. Phone numbers for De La Rosa were disconnected. De La Rosa’s criminal defense attorney, Nick Alcock, said he would attempt to contact his client as well.

De La Rosa’s next encounter with law enforcement went differently.

At 2 a.m. July 25, 2008, a patrol officer in the city of Surprise, just west of El Mirage, spotted De La Rosa sitting at a park, with a young girl on top of him. The pair spotted the police car and attempted to hide behind bushes.

De La Rosa, then 20, was shirtless. The victim was 14. Both admitted to having had sex, and De La Rosa was arrested for sexual conduct with a minor, a serious felony under Arizona law, according to the incident report.

In an interview with a Surprise police detective, the girl said De La Rosa snuck her out of her parents’ home in the middle of the night multiple times. They would then have sex in public parks and, once, in a drainage ditch, according to the police record of the interview.

If convicted on the lead criminal charge, sexual conduct with a minor, De La Rosa would have faced a minimum of five years in jail. But the Maricopa County attorney’s office offered him a plea agreement, in part because he had no prior felonies on his record.

De La Rosa pleaded guilty to attempted sexual conduct with a minor, court records show. He was sentenced to six months in jail and 20 years of probation. Alcock, De La Rosa’s attorney, said the criminal background check came up with nothing on the alleged rape in El Mirage.

“We were unaware of any other investigation of our client at that time,” Alcock said.

The 14-year-old victim’s father said he was furious about De La Rosa’s sentence, believing it was far too lenient. “They’re supposed to be the victims unit,” he said. “They’re supposed to be informing us.”

The Center for Investigative Reporting is the nation’s oldest independent, nonprofit investigative news center in the United States. You can contact the reporter at

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