Arizona sheriff Arpaio says he will appeal racial profiling ruling

PHOENIX Wed May 29, 2013 4:47pm EDT

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks during a news conference at his headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona August 31, 2012. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks during a news conference at his headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona August 31, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott

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PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio, who styles himself as "America's toughest sheriff," said on Wednesday he would appeal a federal court ruling that found his agency had engaged in racial profiling of Hispanic drivers in its zeal to crack down on illegal immigration.

"One hundred of my deputies were authorized and trained by the federal government ... to enforce federal immigration laws," the Maricopa County sheriff said in a video posted on YouTube.

"Now the federal court has ruled that federal training was unconstitutional and it led to racial profiling. We will appeal this ruling," Arpaio said.

Arpaio has been a lightning rod for controversy over his aggressive enforcement of immigration laws in Arizona, which borders Mexico, and an investigation into the validity of President Barack Obama's U.S. birth certificate.

A federal judge ruled on Friday that Arpaio had violated the constitutional rights of Latino drivers in his crackdown on illegal immigration, and ordered him to stop using race as a factor in law enforcement decisions.

The ruling came in response to a class-action lawsuit brought by Hispanic drivers that tested whether police could target illegal immigrants without racially profiling U.S. citizens and legal residents of Hispanic origin.

U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow found that the sheriff and his office had violated the drivers' constitutional rights and ordered them to cease using race or ancestry as grounds to stop, detain or hold vehicle occupants.

Arpaio said in the statement that he had ordered his deputies to stop detaining people they believed to be in the country without authorization whom they could not arrest on state charges.

Counsel for the plaintiffs - five Latino drivers who said they had been stopped by deputies because of their ethnicity -hailed the ruling on Friday as "an important victory" that would resound far beyond Maricopa County.

Arpaio, who has always denied charges of racial profiling, has been the subject of other probes and lawsuits. In August, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona said it had closed a criminal investigation into accusations of financial misconduct by Arpaio, and it declined to bring charges.

A separate U.S. Justice Department investigation and lawsuit related to accusations of civil rights abuses by Arpaio's office is ongoing.

Arizona has been at the heart of a bitter national debate over immigration since Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed a 2010 crackdown on illegal immigration that was subsequently challenged by the federal government.

The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed to stand a part of the law that permits police to question people they stop about their immigration status.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Toni Reinhold)

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Comments (3)
onemind wrote:
This Country has lost any sense of responsible law enforcement. Illegal immigration has received express protection from the President of the United States and now federal court. I saw a law enforcement officer in Arizona explain that he sees a pick up truck with 4 men in the cab and three in the bed. They appear to be Hispanic. He pulls them over. Not one can speak english, only spanish. No one has any US identification. They are in a state that has had millions of illegal immigrants travel through it from Mexico. However, if he makes an inquiry as to their legal status in the USA, he is profiling them because they are “Hispanic”. He admits he would be less likely to ask for documents if the men were french, or Belgium, or Polish. After all, he is in Arizona and the flood of illegals are coming from Mexico and south of there. Yet we ask him to ignore his common sense and known statistics. Insanity.

May 29, 2013 5:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
jack666 wrote:
What you are describing is not profiling and that is not what people are mad at. People are mad because sheriffs in Maricopa were driving around, finding someone who was brown, pulling them over for no reason and immediately demanding they prove they are US Citizens. They were setting up roadblocks in Hispanic neighborhoods and demanding everyone entering/exiting the neighborhood prove they are US citizens. That is profiling, and illegal, and what people are rightly mad at. If you are a citizen of this country, you have an inalienable right to be free from harassment by the government without probable cause supported by evidence. Brown skin and speaking a different language is not probable cause. If a person fails to stop at a stop sign, that is probable cause for a stop – if they do not have a license and are not in any system – that would be probable cause. However, simply being brown and not speaking English is NOT probable cause and illegal.

May 30, 2013 1:03pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
desrtshrk1 wrote:
Dear “Say-it-ain’t-so-Joe” I am laughing so hard at your face man …give it rest Joe Joe before you get a heart attack (lol) man my Sheriff would run rings around you dude …you may have once been a tuff cop take a lesson from that former NYC street cop who was picked to be a Home Land defense CZAR Bernard Kerik he had delusions of Grandeur like you too stop making us look bad that are current lawmen and those that were former lawmen. If you haven’t heard Kee-mo-sabay your more of a joke now than a lawmen just thought you should know and BTW that reflects bad on you and your department…you couldn’t pay me all the gold in Fort Knox or the diamonds in South Africa to work for a fool like you Joe Joe!!!

May 30, 2013 12:03am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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