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Court Rules Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Violated Constitutional Rights
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On Friday, in a case over racial profiling brought by a group of Latino drivers against the office of the Maricopa County Sheriff, Arizona, U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow ruled that the office of “America’s toughest sheriff” had violated the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs.

The real question in the class action lawsuit was whether the police can target illegal immigrants without racial profiling of citizens and legal residents of Hispanic origin.The instant lawsuit did not seek any monetary damages but a declaration that Arpaio’s office engages in racial profiling, and sought an order that requires the Sheriff’s office to make policy changes.

The court ordered the office of Joe Arpaio, famous for keeping prisoners in tents and making them wear pink underwear, to cease using race or ancestry as grounds for stopping, detaining or holding occupants of vehicles during Arpaio’s famous “saturation drives” or during other law enforcement activities.

  
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In a written ruling, the court observed, “The great weight of the evidence is that all types of saturation patrols at issue in this case incorporated race as a consideration into their operations.”

The court observed, “in the absence of further facts that would give rise to reasonable suspicion or probable cause that a violation of either federal criminal law or applicable state law is occurring,” the office of the Maricopa County Sheriff is enjoined from enforcing its policy of “checking the immigration status of people detained without state charges, using Hispanic ancestry or race as any factor in making law enforcement decisions pertaining to whether a person is authorized to be in the country, and unconstitutionally lengthening stops.”

After the ruling was released to the public, Cecillia Wang, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrant’s Rights Project said, “Let this be a warning to anyone who hides behind a badge to wage their own private campaign against Latinos or immigrants that there is no exception in the Constitution for violating people’s rights in immigration enforcement.”

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The court quoted Arpaio’s own words in the ruling, and cited him as saying, “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.”

However, this is not new for Arpaio who has recently been re-elected for the sixth time in the post of the Sheriff of Maricopa County. This August, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona closed a criminal investigation into accusations of financial misconduct by the Sheriff’s office and declined to bring any charges.



Another investigation by the DOJ into accusations of civil rights by the 81-year-old sheriff and his office is continuing.

Though Arpaio has always maintained that he is against racial profiling, he has been often criticized for his tough stance on enforcement of state immigration laws.

Tim Casey, the lead attorney representing the office of Arpaio proclaimed that an appeal to the ruling is planned within the next 30 days.

Arizona (’s Maricopa County) shares its border with Mexico, and is known as one of the busiest gateways for illegal immigrants into the country.



 

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