The Justice Department has sued America’s self-proclaimed toughest sheriff, Joe Arpaio, over allegations that his office racially profiles Latinos in immigration patrols.
The Department alleges that Arpaio’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s office is involved in discriminatory and unConstitutional law enforcement actions against Latinos, discriminatory jail practices against Latino inmates with limited English skills and illegal retaliation against critics of its practices.
“At its core, this is an abuse of power case involving Sheriff Arpaio and a sheriff’s office that disregarded the Constitution, ignored sound police practices, and did not hesitate to retaliate against perceived critics in a variety of unlawful ways,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the DOJ Civil Rights Division. “Constitutional policing and effective policing go hand in hand. The complaint outlines how Sheriff Arpaio’s actions were neither constitutional nor effective. No one in Maricopa County is above the law and the department will fight to ensure that the promise of the Constitution is realized by everyone in Maricopa County.”
At a press conference Wednesday, Arpaio denied the profiling allegations and said: “I’d like to get this resolved, but I’m not going to give up my authority to the Federal government. It’s as simple as that.”
In March, Arpaio, who said he believes the DOJ is targeting him for other reasons, made headlines when he gave a press conference further questioning President Barack Obama’s citizenship and eligibility to hold the Nation’s highest office. The sheriff’s Cold Case Posse announced that the White House-released Long Form Birth Certificate for Obama was most likely a forgery, probably produced on a computer, and that the President’s Selective Service card was also a computer-generated forgery.
In a Thursday press release, the DOJ said of the suit against Arpaio:
Today, the Department of Justice did something it has done only once before in the 18-year history of our civil police reform work; we filed a contested lawsuit to stop discriminatory and unconstitutional law enforcement practices. In our police reform work, we have invariably been able to work collaboratively with law enforcement agencies to build better departments and safer communities. Maricopa County, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Arpaio have been a glaring exception.