SO. AZ. Sheriffs sound off on SB 1070 ruling

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SO. AZ. Sheriffs sound off on SB 1070 ruling

CREATED Jun 25, 2012

Reporter:  Jessica Chapin

TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - Monday's Supreme Court ruling on the controversial immigration law SB 1070 sparked a range of reaction from law enforcement in Southern Arizona.  Some declared the decision a victory and others a defeat, on both sides of the line.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik didn't hide his distaste for the law when it passed.  Now, he says his office will continue immigration enforcement just as it had been, turning over suspected illegal immigrants to Federal authorities and nothing more.

"We've always done that and will continue to do that," he said, "So unless our lawyers tell us something differently, for us nothing has really changed."

Fellow SB1070 critic Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada says the ruling doesn't go far enough.  Judges upheld a key component that requires local law enforcement to check for documentation for those suspected to be illegal.

"I'm disappointed that any part of it was ruled constitutional," he said, "and that we would have anything to do with  immigration."

He says he's concerned about Mexican-American relations, the economy, and his budget in checking on the status of suspected illegal immigrants.

"Hopefully the time we will spend on enforcing this law will be minimal," he said, "but I can assure you that inland counties and law enforcement will have problems with it.

Supporters of the bill include Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever.  Dever said on his facebook page:

"While this is not a total win, it is a partial victory for sheriffs," he said, "and confirms we have the authority to inquire of the legal status of people we think are here illegally."

Babeu released the following statement:

 “I agree with Justice Scailia when he stated, “Arizona bears the brunt of the country’s illegal immigration problem.  Federal officials have been unable to remedy the problem, indeed have recently shown that they are unwilling to do so.
My deputies protect all citizens and will enforce all laws.  Our deputies have been properly trained in the law and once it is enacted they will begin to enforce it.  Contrary to what Attorney General Eric Holder believes; law enforcement does not racially profile but rather they enforce laws in a fair and impartial manner.  Law enforcement is entrusted to make life and death decisions certainly we can be trusted to make these decisions.”

Just after the ruling came down, the Department of Homeland Security announced it will no longer take calls about illegal immigrants from several police agencies including the Pima and Pinal counties.  Immigration and customs enforcement explains the 287(g) program is not helpful now that Arizona has SB1070. 

Sheriffs Estrada and Dupnik say they are waiting for further explanation and instructions on how to move forward with enforcement, and in the meantime they plan to continue their previous policies.