BY TRACY MATHESON/ FEBRUARY 22, 2017
There’s a new sheriff in Arizona’s Maricopa County, and he is releasing an average of 400 “criminal illegal immigrants” every 10 days. Federal law enforcement sources told Judicial Watch that many of the inmates being released by Sheriff Paul Penzone are violent offenders.
Penzone, who refers to illegal immigrants as “guests,” has implemented a new policy to protect illegal aliens from deportation — even those who have committed serious state crimes.
A longtime partnership between Maricopa County and the federal government encouraged the notification of the Phoenix field office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when “aliens unlawfully present with additional Arizona charges” were released from the county Jail — one of nation’s largest with approximately 8,000 inmates. Penzone brought the partnership to a swift end when he took office this year, formally announcing the change last week, although it was put into practice earlier.
According to sources, weekdays are the busiest for releases, with an average of 40 criminal illegal aliens being freed from Maricopa County Jail facilities daily. Weekend releases are lighter — about 10 per day. Released offenders have been arrested for a range of state criminal charges, from misdemeanors to felonies, driving under the influence, and drug offenses.
“There’s no telling how many criminals he’s (Sheriff Penzone) putting on the streets,” asserted a high-ranking federal law enforcement official stationed in Arizona.
Prior to Penzone’s changes, ICE sent a vehicle every 12 hours to pick up criminal illegal aliens scheduled for release from the main jail in Maricopa County. Under the new policy, Maricopa County officials are not offering ICE “any notification at all of the releases of criminal illegals,” says an agency official in Phoenix who wished to remain anonymous.
“We can’t stand out there and question everyone that walks out of that jail,” one federal agent said. “Even if we did, we would have to make arrests on the street, in the middle of protesters, families, and picketers and that will only heighten the danger to agents.”
Following Penzone’s announcement of the new policy, ICE issued a statement calling it an “immediate, dangerous change.” The agency’s Phoenix director for enforcement and removal operations, Enrique Lucero reacted by saying: “Immigration detainers have been a successful enforcement tool to prevent the release of dangerous criminals to our streets and mitigate the possibility of future crimes being committed against the residents of our communities.”
Another federal officer lamented, “This is as bad as it gets.”