Friday, September 28, 2007
Sheriff Joe Arpaio arrests undocumented immigrants at church sanctuary.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he is not waiting for new Cave Creek laws to take effect before cracking down on the town's mostly undocumented immigrant day laborers.
Sheriff's deputies arrested nine people near a church sanctuary Thursday, just days after Arpaio heralded new town laws expected to trigger a crackdown on the workers when they take effect next month.
“We're not waiting for the 30 days for these ordinances to be implemented,” Arpaio said. “We have received a lot of calls about Cave Creek having drop houses and illegals in the area
Up in arms about the arrests is Father Glenn B. Jenks of Good Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church, 6502 E. Cave Creek Road, which for more than six years been a safe haven for the laborers to find employment.
“They'll just go to another community not as short sighted as this one,” Jenks said. “This may make the sheriff look tough, but it's not in the best interest of the community.”
Touted as safety measures, the Cave Creek Town Council passed two new laws Monday, one toughening the town's ban on loitering and the other outlawing stopping cars on town streets.
Both take effect Oct. 24.
But on Thursday, sheriff's deputies — which act as Cave Creek's police force — arrested workers who were passengers in two vehicles as they exited the church's parking lot. One car was speeding and the other had a broken taillight, Arpaio said.
“The drivers were legal, but the passengers were illegal,” the Sheriff said. “We've been doing this all over the Valley.” Deputies gave the drivers warnings. No citations were issued.
What was once only a climate of fear has flared into panic for workers at the town's day-labor center.
“I can't believe this is happening,” Jenks said. “The attitude is, ‘Let's just sweep the rats into Phoenix and get them out of our town.' ”
Jenks, who called the arrests “counter-productive,” said he expects the dozens of remaining workers to gather somewhere else.
Cave Creek Mayor Vincent Francia, a supporter of the church's efforts, dismissed the sheriff's arrests as “doing what they do everyday,” pulling over people suspected of breaking the law.
“It just has to do with the normal activities they do for us,” Francia said.
Arpaio said Thursday's arrests are just the beginning.
“We're not done yet, and I'm not just talking about Cave Creek,” the sheriff said.