Conyers Seeks DOJ Probe Into Controversial Sheriff

Reid Wilson, The Hill, February 15, 2009

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and three fellow Democrats want the Department of Justice to investigate civil rights complaints against controversial sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The lawmakers, in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano sent Friday, are seeking a probe into reports Arpaio has used skin color as a basis to search for illegal immigrants in Arizona.

Conyers and Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) want to end a federal agreement that allows the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to enforce immigration laws if the allegations turn out to be accurate.

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Conyers and his fellow committee members accuse Arpaio of ordering deputies to search largely Hispanic neighborhoods in and around Phoenix for illegal immigrants. Those in the Hispanic community, the lawmakers wrote, “feel under siege.”

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Napolitano has asked for a review of the agreement, which allows local jurisdictions to enforce immigration laws, to inspect whether the program is being applied uniformally across the country.

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