US sher­iffs tar­get im­mi­grants

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - teleSUR

COUNTY sher­iffs in the US are in­creas­ingly be­ing re­cruited to the or­gan­ised anti-im­mi­grant move­ment and fringe na­tion­al­ist groups in a bid to im­ple­ment a dan­ger­ous agenda that breaks up fam­i­lies, de­ports peo­ple to their deaths and pun­ishes sur­vivors of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, a re­port re­leased this week has re­vealed.

Ti­tled “Cross­ing the Line”, the re­port from the Cen­tre for New Com­mu­nity de­tails how county sher­iffs have in­creas­ingly in­te­grated with the US far right, of­ten be­com­ing lead­ing na­tional voices ad­vo­cat­ing tough anti-im­mi­grant mea­sures and pro­grammes en­tan­gling lo­cal crim­i­nal law en­force­ment with fed­eral civil im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment – such as Ari­zona’s “show me your pa­pers” law, SB1070, and the “polim­i­gra” 287(g) pro­gramme.

“Over the past five years, anti-im­mi­grant groups have taken their vit­riol di­rectly to law en­force­ment of­fi­cials, par­tic­u­larly sher­iffs, who can ex­pand the bound­aries of mass de­por­ta­tion with lit­tle over­sight,” said CNC ad­vo­cacy di­rec­tor Lind­say Schu­biner.

“Sher­iffs who pub­licly ally with ex­trem­ist anti-im­mi­grant groups are align­ing them­selves with forces that tar­get im­mi­grants and com­mu­ni­ties of colour, pro­mote un­con­sti­tu­tional de­ten­tion prac­tices, and sup­port racial pro­fil­ing.”

In ex­change for af­fil­i­at­ing with right-wing anti-im­mi­grant groups and in­gra­ti­at­ing them­selves within far-right cir­cles, the sher­iffs gain ac­cess to a na­tional au­di­ence through anti-im­mi­grant ra­dio and tele­vi­sion shows, funded trips to con­fer­ences and meet­ings hosted by the groups, and fed­eral fund­ing for county sher­iff ’s de­part­ments for de­tain­ing im­mi­grants.

The re­port also fleshes out how county sher­iffs and lo­cal po­lice with no im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment author­ity of­ten take mat­ters into their own hands, tar­get­ing vul­ner­a­ble refugee com­mu­ni­ties for ha­rass­ment and the dis­cre­tionary en­force­ment of laws within their man­date – such as traf­fic laws and mi­nor crim­i­nal laws – for the pur­pose of sup­ple­ment­ing fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment.

“We’ve been look­ing at the in­creas­ing rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion of county sher­iffs for a num­ber of years,” Ryan Lenz, a se­nior in­ves­tiga­tive re­porter at the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­tre, said.

“The idea that sher­iffs are ul­ti­mate ar­biters of the law is part of a long tra­di­tion of right-wing thought.”

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