Ariz. congressmen: Administration has declared war against Arizona

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Calling Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s rescission of 287(g) Task Force agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies “the Administration’s declaration of war against Arizona,” three Arizona congressmen are calling on ICE Director John Morton to reconsider the decision.

Arizona Republican Reps. Paul Gosar, Dave Schweikert and Trent Franks have signed onto a letter set to be sent to Morton Wednesday, in response to the agency’s Monday announcement that they have terminated Arizona’s 287(g) Task Force agreements — which allow state law enforcement agencies to verify the immigration status of suspected illegals.

“I write in response to what appears to be the Administration’s declaration of war against Arizona,” The letter reads. “Rather than work cooperatively with the states, as federalism requires, the Administration unwisely decided to unilaterally and abruptly terminate multiple agreements under a program that fostered federal-state cooperation in tackling a very difficult public safety threat to Americans.”

According to the trio, the only winners under the administration’s plan are the drug cartels and human traffickers.

“The June 25th decision by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to rescind seven 287(g) Task Force Memorandums of Agreement (MOA) with Arizona law enforcement agencies as a direct result of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a portion of the Arizona immigration law is unconscionable,” the letter continues.

“In your announcement to Congressional offices, the agency claimed that these agreements were no longer ‘useful’ in States that have adopted immigration enforcement laws like Arizona Senate Bill 1070. Our constituents and the hard working law enforcement officers responsible for keeping them safe in the face of growing cross border threats could not disagree more. ”

The announcement sent to congressional offices also noted that Department of Homeland Security officials in Arizona will no longer respond to state or local law enforcement requests for immigration enforcement assistance unless the individual in question is a convicted criminal, repeat offender or recent border crosser.

Gosar, Schweikert and Franks surmise that the decision to rescind the 287(g) program was a “purely retaliatory” move, following the Supreme Court’s ruling Monday to uphold a critical portion of Arizona’s SB 1070.

“Monday’s announcement was therefore dismaying, not only because it will take away a critical public safety tool for communities bearing the brunt of criminal alien activity, but because of the unfortunate political context in which it was delivered,” the letter reads. “The suspension of all 287(g) task force agreements in Arizona, as a direct stated result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, furthers the federal government’s long standing failure to secure our Southern border.”

The congressmen concluded by strongly urging ICE to reconsider and restore the 287(g) agreements in the state.

“The current course of action puts Arizona citizens in grave danger. Additionally, we believe if the agency maintains a philosophy of non cooperation with states that enact aggressive immigration laws that are otherwise consistent with federal immigration law, the agency stands to put millions of Americans in the same grave danger,” they asserted.

Update: Arizona Republican Rep. Ben Quayle added his name to the letter prior to its dispatch Wednesday.

“If it weren’t part of such a long pattern of presidential abuse, I would find it hard to believe that the Obama Administration would seek to contravene both the Supreme Court and the laws of the State of Arizona as they did with the decision to suspend the 287(g) agreement,” Quayle said in a statement. “President Obama needs to fulfill his constitutional duty to defend the law — not seek out new ways of subverting it.”

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Caroline May