Thursday, July 17, 2008
We have blogged previously about Arizona's Joe Arpaio, known as America's Toughest Sheriff." As NPR has reported, Sheriff Joe has done such thingas as make inmates wear pink underwear. The undergarments are only one of Arpaio's many "innovative" jail policies, which include outdoor confinement, poor quality food, and the like. According to NPR, Arpaio's "extreme tactics — many of which specifically target illegal immigrants — have kept him in the news pretty much since he took office back in 1993."
Yesterday, an Amended Complaint was filed on behalf of five individuals (including the original named Plaintiff Mr. Ortega) and community group Somos America. This case was originally filed as a class action lawsuit in December 2007 alleging racial profiling by Maricopa County and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
All Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief against Defendants for violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution; violation of Article II, § 8 of the Arizona Constitution; and violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The lawsuit alleges that Defendants have engaged in a widespread pattern and practice of racial profiling and other racially and ethnically discriminatory treatment in an illegal, improper and unauthorized attempt to “enforce” federal immigration laws against large numbers of Latino persons in Maricopa County without regard for actual citizenship or valid immigration status. Claiming authority under a limited agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that actually prohibits the practices challenged here, Defendants have launched a series of massive so-called “crime suppression sweeps” that show a law enforcement agency operating well beyond the bounds of the law. During these sweeps, which have shown no signs of abating since Defendants began them in September 2007, large numbers of Maricopa County Sheriff Department officers and volunteer “posse” members under Defendants’ direction and control have targeted Latino persons for investigation of immigration status, using pretextual and unfounded stops, racially motivated questioning, searches and other mistreatment, and often baseless arrests. Defendants’ pattern and practice of racial profiling goes beyond these sweeps to include widespread, day-to-day targeting and mistreatment of persons who appear to be Latino. After various groups challenged the anti-solicitation ordinance of Cave Creek, a town in Maricopa County, Sheriff Arpaio targeted for stops day laborers and others who appeared to be Latino in Cave Creek. The racial profiling lawsuit alleges that each putative class member has been or will be subjected to arbitrary, racially-discriminatory stops, questioning, detention, arrests and/or searches conducted by Defendants.
The Complaint and press release are Download Filed_First_AMD_CM_07-16-08.pdf Download Sheriff_Arpaio_Press_Release.doc The complaint also is online at www.aclu.org/immigrants/gen/35998lgl20080716.html
Lawyers on the case include Goldfaden and Mónica M. Ramírez of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project; Pochoda of the ACLU of Arizona; Campbell and Nancy Ramirez of MALDEF; and Bodney, Peter Kozinets, Karen Hartman-Tellez and Isaac Hernandez of Steptoe & Johnson LLP.