Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio and his deputies must stop using racial profiling or ethnicity to enforce immigration laws in Arizona.
By H. Nelson Goodson
May 24, 2013
Phoenix, AZ - On Friday, Federal U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow ruled that Arizona Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies trained to detain suspected undocument immigrants in the county had violated the constitutional rights of U.S. Hispanic born citizens while enforcing immigration laws. Judge Snow issued a decision in Melendres v. Arpaio that found the policies and practices of Arpaio and his office are discriminatory, violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In Judge Snow's 142 page ruling, the judge found that Sheriff Arpaio trained his deputies to follow his policy to use race and ethnicity to help identify suspects believed to be in the U.S. illegally. Judge Snow also found, Arpaio thought that using race as a factor in enforcing immigration laws was not considered profiling of Hispanics in determining they were illegals, which federal law prohibits.
The ruling now prohibits the Maricopa County Sheriff deputies to use race or Hispanic ancestry as a factor to stop vehicles with Latino occupants to enforce immigration laws. The deputies will also be prohibited from detaining, arresting and turning over the vehicle occupants to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), unless there is "reasonable belief" they're in the country illegally. Also, if the occupants are detained, the deputies must have reasonable suspicion that those detained had violated state human trafficking and employment laws or have committed a crime.
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office plans to appeal Judge Snow's ruling, but the departmentd will comply with the judge's ruling.
"This is a victory for everyone," said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "Singling people out for traffic stops and detentions because they are Latino is unconstitutional and just plain un-American. Let this be a warning to any agency trying to enforce the 'show me your papers' provision of SB 1070 and similar laws — there is no exception in the Constitution for immigration enforcement."
The ACLU also reported that on Sept. 25, a federal appeals court confirmed that Arpaio's office cannot detain people solely on the suspicion that they are undocumented by refusing to reverse a lower court's ruling.
In the Ortega Melendres, et al. v. Arpaio, et al. lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and the law firm Covington & Burling LLP represented a class of Latino residents and a Latino community organization, Somos America.