Other jurisdictions, such as the Mesa Police Department, focus on violent crimes and determine immigration status after the suspects are booked into jail.40
Even for MCSO, that approach yields far more illegal immigrants: The Republic reports that MCSO jailers have identified 16,000 illegal immigrants during the booking process, compared to 2,000 who have been arrested by the human smuggling unit and only 200 or so who have been arrested in sweeps.41
But MCSO has diverted substantial resources away from other law-enforcement activities to the immigration sweeps and the human-smuggling unit.42 As Arpaio described it, “We are quickly becoming a full-fledged anti-illegal immigration agency.”43 The eight sweeps have involved hundreds of deputies and thousands of work days.44 Th e Tribune found that “MCSO has repeatedly used regular patrol deputies for immigration enforcement.”45 The human smuggling unit was staffed through “temporary” reassignments of deputies from patrol units, many of which were not replaced.
In addition to diverting patrol deputies from their normal assignments, the shift in focus resulted in massive overtime. Shortly after the ICE contract was signed, deputies amassed 4,500 extra hours per two-week pay period, compared to the previous average of 2,900 overtime hours. The predictable result was a $1.3 million deficit in MCSO’s budget in only three months. The sheriff covered part of the deficit by keeping patrol division positions unfilled, to the tune of 66 deputies. Meanwhile, the sheriff curtailed overtime. On at least one occasion, as many as 46 criminal defendants missed their court appearances because deputies were told to skip overtime.46
Likewise, immigration enforcement diminished. As the Tribune reports, MCSO “eliminated its deficit,” but “deputies now rarely arrest illegal immigrants under the state smuggling law, MCSO records show, even when suspects are clearly involved in human smuggling.”47
MCSO’s massive diversion of resources into policing illegal immigration—largely in communities such as Phoenix and Mesa that have police departments—coincides with growing rates of violent crimes, plummeting arrest rates, and increased response time to citizens’ calls for help.48 At the same time, the Republic found that crime rates in areas that were the subject of saturation raids were largely unchanged after the sweeps.49