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Phoenix Rising: An Immigration Victory By: Tom Fitton
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, December 13, 2007

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon underwent a change of heart last week on the issue of illegal immigration enforcement.

Facing a Judicial Watch investigation and potential lawsuit, Mayor Gordon reversed his position on the city’s Operations Order 1.4, which prohibits police officers from inquiring about the immigration status of individuals and from cooperating with federal immigration officials. (This policy is similar to the LAPD’s “Special Order 40,” which is the subject of a separate Judicial Watch lawsuit.) Mayor Gordon dramatically withdrew his support of the policy during a press conference held on December 3 and announced the formation of an illegal immigration expert panel to study the policy and to recommend changes.

“When [Operations Order 1.4] was written, it was right for local law enforcement and our community. But it was written in another time…” Mayor Gordon stated, suggesting the policy had become outdated. “…Obviously, that has changed….”

No, what has changed is the fact that for the last four months, Judicial Watch has been working with businesses (organized as the 36th and Thomas Business Coalition), community leaders and law enforcement to bring about a change in Phoenix’s status as an illegal alien "sanctuary city." Our investigative team, led by Chris Farrell, interviewed dozens of people, filed numerous public records act requests, and analyzed public documents as part of a comprehensive investigative and public education campaign.

There is no doubt these efforts forced the mayor’s hand.

Whatever his motivation, however, we are pleased Mayor Gordon has finally come to grips with his administration’s failure to adequately address the illegal immigration crisis. And we generally support the mayor’s public calls for radical change in the way the Phoenix Police Department enforces federal immigration law. The city’s sanctuary policies have severely damaged business owners and taxpayers, including the owners of Pruitt’s Furniture, who are leaders in the Phoenix business community.

With respect to the mayor’s “expert panel,” I suppose this is a good idea depending on who is making the recommendations. I was disappointed that the panel did not include Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Maricopa County Attorney Andrew P. Thomas, both of whom have valuable immigration enforcement experience in the area surrounding Phoenix and interact with the Phoenix Police Department on a daily basis.

Judicial Watch will most definitely keep tabs on Mayor Gordon’s panel to make sure that any new policies comply with federal immigration law. However, if the commission’s work results in police immigration policies at odds with federal law, a Judicial Watch lawsuit would still be on the table.

Tom Fitton is president of Judicial Watch.

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