In a special town hall meeting, hosted by Queen Creek on Tuesday evening, Sheriff Paul Penzone made it clear that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office does not work for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Joseph Van Orden, an ASU professor and Maricopa County resident, questioned Penzone as to what MCSO’s relationship with ICE is.
“I am conservative politically, but I was against our past administration because of all the money spent trying to defend themselves in court. So I am happy to hear how attentive you are to the tax dollars that we’re sending to your department and that they’re not all going to lawsuits with ICE,” Van Orden said.
The MCSO, under the leadership of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, was involved in several lawsuits due to their behavior with immigration enforcement, Penzone said. Penzone said under his leadership, MCSO will avoid costly lawsuits by following U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow’s 2013 ruling, and not be involved in detaining of immigrants.
“In conducting its activities, MCSO shall ensure that members of the public receive equal protection of the law, without discriminating based on actual or perceived race or ethnicity, and in a manner that promotes public confidence,” Snow wrote in his 2013 ruling.
Sheriff Penzone said the relationship between MCSO and ICE has changed since he became county sheriff. The MCSO no longer provides “courtesy holds”, a practice that held possible illegal immigrants in Maricopa County Jails, for ICE.
“I advised ICE immediately that we couldn’t continue that practice, because I would be negligent and as a sheriff,” Penzone said. “I have a responsibility to be constitutional, and I always say when you’re proud of our constitution and our laws it’s the times when they go against what we believe to be right that tests our commitment most. If you don’t fight for the constitution when it feels uncomfortable you can’t stand by it when it works solely in your best interest.”
ICE was unhappy about the MCSO’s decision to follow Snow’s ruling and abide by the fourth amendment, Penzone said.
“They’ve said things like, ‘why don’t you transport them for us?’ And I say, ‘No, no, no. It’s not our job.’ I need my detention officers and my deputies focused on state law and public safety for our own community.”