Senate blackballs Pima County from border crime funds - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Senate blackballs Pima County from border crime funds

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Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 8:46 pm | Updated: 11:32 pm, Sat Mar 19, 2011.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik need not apply for a share of funds in the Senate budget to fight border crime.

A provision buried in one of the 13 budget bills spells out that the first $1.6 million of available cash go to the sheriff of a county with a population of more than three million. That applies only to Maricopa County.

The next $500,000 is earmarked for a sheriff in a county of between 300,000 and 500,000, meaning Pinal. And if there's anything left, it can be allocated to other counties or cities.

But not Pima: SB 1621 spells out any county with a population of between 500,00 and two million "shall not receive any monies from the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement mission fund.''

"That was by design,'' said Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa.

"The sheriff says he's not going to enforce the law,'' Pearce said Wednesday night. "Why would I fund him?''

Dupnik last year said he would not enforce provisions of SB 1070 which allow law enforcement officers to arrest illegal immigrants for violating state law. Instead, he said his deputies will turn those people over to Border Patrol.

Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson, said she believes something more is at work. She noted that Dupnik angered conservatives by linking the Jan. shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords to the negative tone of political rhetoric, saying Arizona had become "the mecca of prejudice and bigotry.''

"It's another effort by the Tea Party Republicans in the Senate against an Arizona sheriff who stood up for the victims of the Jan. 8 shooting,'' Lopez said. Six were killed and 13 injured, including Giffords.

Pearce said Dupnik's remarks had nothing to do with the funding decision.

"The name calling, we're used to it,'' he said.

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