Last week, a Federal court found the Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff’s office guilty of racial profiling in the enforcement of immigration law for singling out Latinos under Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s program of immigration patrols.
Now, the hard-nosed, controversial sheriff with jurisdiction over the Nation’s fifth-largest city is appealing the ruling, saying that the training his deputies received came straight from the same playbook used by Federal immigration enforcement officers.
“One hundred of my deputies were authorized and trained by the Federal government, ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), to enforce Federal immigration law,” Arpaio said in a video-recorded statement. “Now, a Federal Court has ruled that Federal training was unconstitutional, and it led to racial profiling. We will appeal this ruling.
“You know, as Sheriff I uphold the law. The Court’s order is clear. We will no longer detain persons believed to be in the country without authorization whom we cannot arrest on state charges. I have already instructed my deputies.”
The ruling came after a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of Latino groups by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other nonprofits.
Over a three-year period covered by the lawsuit, the Marciopa County Sheriff’s Office detained thousands of illegal immigrants in raids and police stops. U.S. District Judge Murray Snow ruled that Arpaio had guided deputies to violate the 4th and 14th Amendment rights of those imprisoned — even when the imprisoned were not, in fact, U.S. citizens — by initiating contact with suspects not only on the sole suspicion that they might be illegal immigrants, but also because of their appearance, their use of Spanish or their Latino accent.
Defense attorneys have already pledged to use the ruling to exonerate illegal immigrants who are still being detained on pending charges, although it’s not known how many such cases could be reversed.
The ruling also comes with a cease-and-desist order that effectively gets the Sheriff’s Office out of the immigration enforcement game. In testimony, Arpaio had defended his department’s encroachment on what the ruling claims is an enforcement endeavor subject only to Federal jurisdiction: “Ours is an operation, whether it’s the state law or the Federal, to go after illegals; not the crime first, that they happen to be illegals. My program, my philosophy is a pure program. You go after illegals. I’m not afraid to say that. And you go after them and you lock them up.”
Arpaio began enforcing immigration law at the county level in 2006.