Ariz. Sheriff Dever Defends Immigration Law, Criticizes Feds

Friday, 13 May 2011 01:17 PM

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Arizona Sheriff Larry Dever asserts that the state’s new immigration law is a reasoned response to the chaos and violence enveloping the border, and not the racially motivated overreach that critics contend it is. In an Op-Ed published today in The New York Times, Cochise County’s top cop writes that Arizona’s law, which Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed but is on hold pending a court challenge, fills a decades-old vacuum that federal security failures have left.

Larry Dever, Arizona, illegal, immigration
Sheriff Larry Dever: Legal residents don’t “generally run off into the desert when they see our officers approach."
While the court fight continues, “violent crime rooted in unchecked illegal immigration continues to spread,” Dever writes, citing the deaths of illegal immigrants and lawful residents alike.

“Just over a year ago, while officials at the Department of Homeland Security were declaring they had secured ‘operational control’ of most of the southern Arizona border, my friend Robert N. Krent Jr., a local rancher, was murdered, most likely by drug smugglers,” writes Dever, who also said during a recent Newsmax interview that federal officials have told Border Patrol agents to quit arresting illegals to make the problem appear less seerious.

The law requires law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone arrested for a crime if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is here illegally. It also allows law enforcement to check suspected illegal immigrants for required documentation, regardless of whether they’ve committed a crime — but always under the standards of reasonable suspicion and probable cause.

“Contrary to what critics say,” Dever writes,” the law doesn’t allow me to question anyone I want, and I have no desire to do so.”

Dever, whose department patrols an 83.5-mile border with Mexico, writes that his deputies evaluate people based on behavior, not race. Citizens and legal residents, he writes, don’t “generally run off into the desert when they see our officers approach. The last thing we have time to do is harass law-abiding people.”

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