Arizona Sheriff Larry Dever, attending a Supreme Court hearing on the constitutionality of his state’s controversial immigration control law — SB 1070 — predicted in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV that the state will face a new wave of illegal immigration if the law “goes down in flames.”
The high court is expected to rule sometime in June on the measure, which requires law enforcement officers to check the status of those they suspect to be in the U.S. illegally, and arrest those they believe to be eligible for deportation.
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“If this law goes down in flames, you’re going to really see pressures — people rolling back in — some who have self-deported and others taking advantage of what they see as an open sanctuary policy in this state,” declared Dever on Wednesday.
Passed in 2010 by the Arizona Legislature, SB 1070 has largely been put on hold by the courts, which have capitulated to the objections of politicians, foreign regimes and the UN over the real, serious and pressing concerns of Arizona’s citizens, insists Dever, whose Cochise County shares 82 miles of border with Mexico. The Courts have accepted the federal government’s policy of largely ignoring the law, and not enforcing laws against illegal immigration as a reason to stop SB 1070, Dever charged.
“They basically said, ‘If you’re in this country illegally and you haven’t committed another crime, you’re so far down the priority list in our enforcement efforts that we’re not interested in you,” Dever explained, noting that the federal government deported a record number of some 390,000 criminal aliens last year.
“That’s great. That’s good news,” Dever explained. “But the question is ‘how many of those even have returned and come back because of the porous border?’ And the answer is nobody really knows, but we know they can. And anybody that wants to cross the border ultimately is successful and able to do it.”
Claims by some civil rights group that the law might lead to racial profiling by police and harassment of Latino citizens are unfounded, the Sheriff insists. “We see that as an insult frankly to our professionalism,” he said, declaring that law enforcement officials will not tolerate racial profiling.
“If any complaint comes to our attention we investigate it thoroughly. If it’s founded, we issue sanctions — up to termination,” he said. “We don’t tolerate it. This is the only law on the Arizona revised statute criminal code that specifically prohibits racial profiling in its enforcement. There’s no other law on the books that does that.”
That may be one reason why attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice in attempting to strike down the law, have chosen not to raise such an argument before the high court. “They were asked by the justices today — the Supreme Court judges — if that was going to be part of their argument and they said ‘no.’ And the reason they said ‘no’ is because it’s a non-starter,” Dever maintained.
While no administration has put forth strong policies on immigration enforcement in recent years, Dever said that he is “hopeful” GOP presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney will do a better job protecting U.S. borders than President Barack Obama.
“I actually reached out to every campaign, including this current administration to come visit and see what it is we’re talking about and experiencing, and I hope that will still happen,” he said. “What we really need is comprehensive immigration enforcement — not only at the border, but in the interior of the country. And then I will agree that we need to go back and take a look at the legal immigration process — find out where it’s all bogged down.”
He blames the complicated process for obtaining legal work visas in part for the large number of illegal aliens. “That’s one of the driving factors now that make people circumvent the system is because it’s so molasses slow, and so cumbersome,” he charged.
Sharing a stage with Sen. Marco Rubio earlier this week, Romney acknowledged that he had not yet read the Florida lawmaker’s version of the Dream Act so he could not comment on it. But Dever insists that he might take issue with a possible provision to award nonimmigrant visas to college students who enter the country illegally.
“I think anybody here illegally has to pay a penalty for that,” he said, adding that he would be reluctant to reward illegals with nonimmigrant visas. “If they’ve committed another crime, the penalty is deportation with no chance of returning. Unfortunately, we deport a lot of people now, but they just turn around and come back. So until the border security nut is cracked, and we get a good handle on that — as long as they can keep coming back, no other enforcement effort is going to be effective.”
Arizona, like a number of cities and towns across the United States, have so-called “sanctuary policies” — either informal or formal policies — that put pressure on border communities and underscore the need for laws like Senate Bill 1070, according to Dever.
“We’re down there day in and day out fighting the battle to try to keep our country safe and secure from contraband and weapons and people with bad intentions coming across,” he said. “And then our own government — and smaller sections of government throughout the country — say ‘well if you get here, you’re safe.’” That doesn’t work when you’ve lost friends both in law enforcement and in the community who have been killed, injured, severely impacted by this traffic down there.”
While it is difficult to assess how the court will rule after observing only 90-minutes of oral arguments, Dever said he believes that the federal government offered a very “weak position” against the law.
“They asked hard questions of both justice and our attorneys. And that’s a good thing because those answers needed to be heard,” observed the lawman. “But my impression was that Department of Justice simply did not have good answers, and in fact a couple of the justices tried to throw them a lifeline on a couple of occasions, and say ‘you know this argument’s not working very well, not selling well. But if you would say this, then maybe we could sink our teeth into it.’ And they never could because they can’t.”
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