After a seven-day, non-jury trial, a federal judge ruled that Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s “agency systematically singled out Latinos in its trademark immigration patrols.” Arpaio’s attorney has already vowed to fight the ruling with an appeal. Should Arpaio ultimately lose, his office will have to abide by a court order to make policy changes.
A small group of Latinos alleged in their lawsuit that Arpaio’s deputies pulled over some vehicles only to make immigration status checks. The group asked Snow to issue injunctions barring the sheriff’s office from discriminatory policing and the judge ruled that more remedies could be ordered in the future.
The group also accused the sheriff of ordering some immigration patrols not based on reports of crime but rather on letters and emails from Arizonans who complained about people with dark skin congregating in an area or speaking Spanish. The group’s attorneys noted Arpaio sent thank-you notes to some who wrote the complaints.
The sheriff said his deputies only stop people when they think a crime has been committed and that he wasn’t the person who picked the location of the patrols. His lawyers said there was nothing wrong with the thank-you notes.
Arpaio, who is 81 and just won his sixth term as Sheriff, began to take on immigration enforcement in 2006 due to the state’s increasing frustration with illegal immigration.
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