Last summer, we covered a civil rights trial against Arizona’s notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio and allegations that he and his Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office have been discriminating against Latino drivers on the basis of race. Last week, a federal judge officially found that the anti-immigrant practices of Arpaio and MCSO amount to the racial profiling of Latinos, and ordered the department to cease using race as a factor in their law enforcement decisions.
“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,” US District Court Judge Murray Snow said in a written ruling.
The trial last summer featured testimony from immigrants and Latinos who talked about how they had been treated differently from white drivers and detained without cause. The prosecution also used Arpaio’s own statements about immigrants, anti-immigrant requests from constituents, and data showing that Latino drivers were more likely to be stopped—and stopped for longer—during the Sheriff’s immigration sweeps, to demonstrate Arpaio and MCSO’s intent to discriminate. The plaintiffs were not seeking monetary compensation, only change from MCSO and their enforcement practices.
As Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and the plaintiffs’ counsel said after the release of the ruling:
Singling people out for traffic stops and detentions simply because they’re Latino is illegal and just plain un-American.
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.
Arpaio has said that he will appeal the decision, and the Sheriff just won another term in office last November. However, an effort to recall Sheriff Arpaio, and the deadline to collect enough signatures to begin the effort is in two days. Click here to learn more about the recall.