OCTOBER 17, 2008
The outraged mayor of Arizona’s third largest city is accusing the county sheriff of improperly violating his municipality for conducting a raid of illegal immigrants working in public buildings, including City Hall and the library.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio conducted the middle-of-the-night raid on Mesa City Hall and library after a city employee reported that illegal immigrants worked for a company contracted to clean the facilities. The informant had tipped of a Mesa Police lieutenant who refused to take action, according to a news report of the raid.
When the concerned employee called the county sheriff, the department took the information seriously and assigned an undercover detective claiming to be an undocumented immigrant to infiltrate the cleaning business. The detective was coached by a company manager on how to obtain false identification that would get past a federal database.
Armed with dozens of arrest warrants, Maricopa sheriffs deputies raided the public buildings and arrested 16 people on suspicion of identity theft and being in the country illegally. Authorities said that 15 others are still on the run. Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas later revealed that the cleaning company had been under investigation for months.
In late August a Mesa landscaping company, contracted by the city to work on its public parks, was raided by Maricopa sheriffs and nearly 30 illegal immigrants were arrested. The sheriff has stepped in to help curb the area’s illegal immigration crisis because the Mesa Police Department has a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy regarding illegal aliens.
In fact, Mesa’s police chief has often clashed with Arpaio’s immigration enforcement policies. After all, the chief (George Gascon) was once an assistant chief at the Los Angeles Police Department which has an official longtime policy (Special Order 40) that forbids officers from asking about a suspect’s legal status.
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