BISBEE, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever, a leading proponent of Arizona SB 1070, sent a letter to his constituents Saturday, saying the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the controversial law "is one of the most pivotal issues of our time."
The Supreme Court has announced it will hear oral arguments in the case April 25.
SB 1070, one of the strictest anti-illegal-immigrant laws in the country, requires law enforcement to attempt to determine an individual's immigration status during a "lawful stop, detention or arrest" when there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is an illegal immigrant.
Critics of the legislation say it encourages racial profiling.
The state, and supporters like Dever, contend Arizona has the right to enact the law, which has been blocked on appeal by two federal judges.
The state has argued in previous filings that there are 400,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona, with 230,000 of them holding jobs.
"Two weeks ago, the National Sheriffs Association convened its annual Winter meeting in Washington D.C. We generally hold this meeting to coincide with members of Congress coming back to the jobs we expect them to pay attention to. Sadly, the Senate was still mostly adjourned and the majority of House members were still back home. I am writing you, not to disparage Congress, but to bring new attention to the outrages and atrocious antics of our own U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security.
"On Friday, Jan. 27, myself, the President of the National Sheriffs Association, the Executive Director, Legal Council, and about seven sheriffs from Alabama, Georgia, North Dakota, Nevada and elsewhere met with Thomas Perez, head of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. What prompted us to call this meeting was a letter sent to Alabama Sheriffs regarding enforcement of their recently passed illegal immigration bill, HB 56. I'll come back to the meeting, but let me digress.
"Following the passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1070, that allows Arizona Sheriffs, state and local law enforcement officers, under the certain constraints of reasonable suspicion and probable cause, to ask a person to present evidence of legal status, several other States followed suit. Alabama was one of those, and, unlike the federal judge in Arizona that yielded to the U.S. Department of Justice (Eric Holder, in charge) and the A.C.L.U.'s joint suit, the Alabama U.S. Judge agreed with Alabama. The challenge with the Alabama law is that if you are subjected to scrutiny under the law, or you are an Alabama resident who doesn't think the Sheriff is enforcing the law, you can sue for remedy. Given that, Alabama Sheriffs approached Secretary Janet Napolitano and requested specific training in immigration law enforcement. They were denied, because "we (Obama Administration) don't like the law."
"Following that, a volley was fired at Arizona. Sheriff Joe Arpaio was investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice and found, they acting as judge and jury, that there were possible civil rights violations of people of Hispanic descent. On the heels of those "findings" Janet Napolitano wrote a letter to Sheriff Arpaio, rescinding his authority to check immigration status of jail inmates under federally sponsored 287g. Again, judge and jury. This action was, and is, a clear threat and message from the Obama Administration of their displeasure and rejection of the 10th Amendment.
"Now, I go back to the National Sheriffs Association Conference in our nation's capitol. Almost. Our oldest son is a stationed at Fort Mead in Maryland. So, Nancy, my wife, and I left a couple of days early to visit with the grandkids, or least some of them. On a day trip, we went out to Fort McHenry. It was really, really cold. But, we went into the visitor's center where they played a video re-enactment of the British siege on the harbor in Baltimore, and Ft. McHenry. As the fog and smoke lifted in the morning, with Francis Scott Key and friends looking on, the inspiration for the "Star Spangled Banner" was born. As the movie ended, the screen lifted, and through the huge picture window, Ft. McHenry, with the U.S. flag aloft, stood. And so did all those seated in the audience. As our nation's anthem played, every hand found its heart.
"Now I go back to the conference. Secretary Napolitano was our first keynote speaker. I sat in the front row, just below the podium. She offered up a very generic and pretty good speech, basically saying much of nothing. One exception. While again stating that things on the border are pretty good, she excused her remarks, by saying that there are "anecdotes" from the border that people use to dispute her theory. "Anecdotes"--the murder of Rob Krenz, and area rancher, the murder of Brian Terry, a Border Patrol Agent killed with guns provided by the U.S. Department of Justice evil program called "Fast and Furious". "Anecdotes" of people who's homes and properties are continually assaulted by a relentless flow of drugs and illegal aliens across our southern borders.
"Finally, the meeting with Thomas Perez, U.S. Department of Justice head of the Civil Rights Division. Part of his reason for the condescending letter he sent to Alabama Sheriffs was that they had heard "stories". Stories of children afraid to go to school. Stories of people to go get an ice cream cone. O.K., I confess that is an extrapolation of President Osama's comments on AZ SB107. Well, if you break the law, you should be concerned that law enforcement will ultimately prevail.
"I challenged Mr. Perez, and he didn't like it a bit. I told him he was wrong. I told him that his position was ideological and not based on the law, He didn't like that either, but it is true. It is against U.S law to cultivate and distribute marijuana, yet DOJ turns its back on enforcing those laws in states that have passed related legislation. It is against U.S. law to enter and remain in this country illegally, yet DOJ ignores cities and communities that promote sanctuary policies. They, DOJ, establish charging thresholds for illegal entries and importation of drugs. Did you know that under current policy, if you cross the border in Laredo, Texas, you will not be charged with a crime until the 7th violation? Did you know that under current DOJ policy that if you posses less than 750 lbs of marijuana in Houston, Texas, you will not be charged with a crime?
"So, on April 25 the Supreme Court will finally hear Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law. A law designed to protect not only the citizens of Arizona, but to help secure our Nation and the safety and welfare of people everywhere. We need your help to see this through. It really is one of the most pivotal issues of our time and success will see our Constitution survive. Failure will have its inevitable consequences. Please stand with us for our Nation, our Constitution, and our future as a people who demand liberty.
"When Patrick Henry made that declaration, "Give me liberty, or give me death," I believe he understood those were the only two choices available. There is no other alternative."