Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheiff Joe Arpaio has been reprimanded by a federal judge for instructing his deputies to racially-profile Latinos. U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow ordered Arpaio and his force to stop targeting the state’s Latino population based on race or risk facing further consequences.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund filed the suit against Maricopa County on behalf of Latino drivers who were profiled and detained because of their race. Civil rights groups are celebrating the decision, which included 142-pages of contemplation from the judge.
Judge Snow writes:
Thus, to the extent it uses race as a factor in arriving at reasonable suspicion or forming probable cause to stop or investigate persons of Latino ancestry for being in the country without authorization, it violates the Fourth Amendment. In addition, it violates the Plaintiff class’s right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The decision prohibits Arpaio’s department from using race as a factor in determining if a driver is an undocumented immigrants. It bars Arpaio from reporting suspects to ICE without suspicion that drivers and passengers are in violation of other state laws.
Judge Snow’s ruling is also a subtle indictment of the federal government’s own immigration enforcement programs. During the period at issue in the suit, federal officials authorized the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office to to inquire about immigration status and detain undocumented immigrants though the 287(g) program. The Department of Homeland Security later terminated the 287(g) contact with the county, in large part because of Arpaio’s illegal implementation, but Judge Snow notes that it was under that local-federal partnership that Arpaio was formally empowered to profile Latinos.
Maricopa County is in the process of submitting signatures to host a recall election against Arpaio. Immigration advocates hope he will be forced into resigning.
Respect Arizona is an advocacy group organized specifically to oust Arpaio. Lilia Alvarez, Respect Arizona’s campaign manager, has until May 30 to produce 335,317 signatures.
“We’re really pushing now for Arpaio to resign,” she told the Phoenix New Times. “After this ruling, we should not have to spend the taxpayer dollars to have a recall special election.”