Thursday, October 23, 2008

Arpaio takes on City Hall after months of cautious planning

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies knew last August that more than 20 Mesa, Arizona city custodians were using fraudulent information to illegally work in the United States, but cautiously held off in making arrests until mid-October. A Maricopa County Superior Court Judge issued a search warrant last week, and 60 deputies and posse members raided the municipal buildings.

The raid has generated a dispute between Mesa police and sheriff's officials about the role a Mesa police lieutenant is suspected to have played by ignoring an employee's claims that the cleaning contractor was hiring illegal workers.

The Sheriff’s office received a tip in May about specific custodial workers using false IDs and Social Security numbers.

Sheriff Arpaio said last week that the city’s response to the situation was indicative of the Mesa Police Department's approach to fighting illegal immigration in general.

The current version of the state's employer-sanctions law protects a general contractor, in this case Mesa, from prosecution when the burden of employee verification rests with the subcontractor, in this case the cleaning company.

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