A federal judge in Arizona has delivered a major – and hopefully final – victory in the fight to stop Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) from racial profiling and illegal detentions that target Latinos.

In a ruling on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow ordered numerous concrete measures to ensure that Arpaio and his deputies stop violating the U.S. Constitution. They include the appointment of a federal monitor, the creation of a community advisory board, video and audio recording of every vehicle stop his officers make, wholesale changes to MCSO policies and training, and data collection on how traffic stops are carried out. The order should put an end to the sheriff's recalcitrant attitude and refusal to see the need for serious reform. It includes almost all the measures requested by the plaintiffs, including many that Arpaio doggedly resisted. The order will be in place for a minimum of three years as MCSO is required to institute sweeping reforms.

By issuing this injunction, the U.S. district court instituted major changes needed to address years of discriminatory practices and unconstitutional policies that occurred under Sheriff Arpaio's leadership. These practices included targeting Latinos for traffic stops based solely on their race and detaining Latinos in order to interrogate them about their immigration status. It was revealed in court that many of the operations conducted by MCSO were in places suggested to Arpaio in calls, emails and letters from racists complaining about immigrants in their communities. For example, one caller asked the police department why "nobody gets all the Mexicans hanging out" in a certain area, and another person complained that Spanish was being spoken at a McDonald's and asking that a raid be conducted there to get rid of the illegal immigrants.

Five brave individual plaintiffs and Phoenix-based community group Somos America stepped forward to lead the litigation on behalf of the certified class. Among our clients were Jessika and David Rodriguez, both U.S. citizens, who were singled out while driving with their young children. An MCSO deputy allegedly pulled the Rodriguez family over for driving on a stretch of road that had been washed out by a storm. During the stop, the MCSO deputy demanded that Mr. Rodriguez produce his social security card and issued him a citation. The Rodriguez family watched helplessly as other, non-Latino drivers were waved through the area by MCSO deputies.

Such humiliating violations have come to an end. The final injunction follows previous orders in December 2012 and May of this year, in which the court ruled that MCSO has violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution by targeting Latinos for traffic stops and detaining them based solely on suspicion of illegal immigration status. The May ruling came after a three-week trial in July and August of 2012, during which the plaintiffs' team submitted voluminous evidence that the MCSO was illegally discriminating against Latinos. The plaintiffs proved—through the MCSO's internal correspondence and public statements, and statistical analyses—that the MCSO had the intent to discriminate. Evidence also showed that the discrimination had harmful effects, including higher traffic stop rates and longer stop times for Latinos.

The court order overruled one of MCSO's most vehement objections in mandating the creation of a Community Advisory Board. That step is critical as it could begin to repair the deeply damaged relationship between MCSO and those members of the Maricopa County community that have been directly harmed by Arpaio's discriminatory policies.

"Thanks to the brave souls who came forward to tell their stories, the MCSO is being held accountable," said Lydia Guzman of Somos America. "It's not a crime to be brown and now we have the necessary tools to make sure that Sheriff Arpaio doesn't forget that."

Counsel on Ortega Melendres, et al. v. Arpaio, et al. included Cecillia Wang and Andre Segura from the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, Daniel Pochoda and Anne Lai (cooperating attorney) from ACLU of Arizona, Nancy Ramirez from MALDEF, and from Covington & Burling, LLP, Stanley Young, Andrew Byrnes, Lesli Gallagher, and David Hults.

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My friends from Arizona are upset by this. They don't believe he's going to follow the orders and will have more lawsuits brought against him.

I thought 'So don't VOTE for him next time,' but kept it inside my head.

I hope they can figure it out for themselves, but two of my friends from Arizona are leaving the state b/c they're sick of the leaders. Jan Brewer was their last straw.
They're also native Californians, which is why they can't understand Arizona's leadership.

Rigoberto Duarte

thank you to every person that has been a part of this astounding victory for civil right, now let us hope the DOJ indicts arpio for criminal violations also! keep up the great work.


Arpaio had the right idea about the need to deal with illegal alien presence, but he used the wrong tactics to implement his plan! Again, the illegals win and American citizens lose! What a foolish judge and country the U.S. has become!


I hope Sheriff Arpaio will not be able to appeal or delay this in any way.


Can we get the same treatment ofr every politician in every state and in Washington?


We can get treatment for every politician, as soon as we get it for all the people who claim they have an issue with 'illegal immigrants' when they're part of the problem.
When I lived with that doctor, his sister and brother-in-law hired illegal immigrants all the time just so they could abuse and mistreat them by paying then beLOW minimum wage and refusing them all benefits AND could get away with doing it on account of knowing they'd never have to suffer for their asinine behavior in THIS life.
Then they'd sit there and complain about illegal immigrants with the same sanctimonious ass of an attitude that all the OTHER whiners possess in spades.
It made me sick to my stomach to even LOOK at them, ESPECIALLY since her husband was from France and nobody in his family even spoke English. At their wedding you had to know French to speak to anyone in his family, which I didn't so had to use an interpreter.
Thus nobody with that holier-than-thou "immigrants are ruining the country" attitude has me fooled in the LEAST. They just make me wonder what THEY'RE doing to use the hell out of them, and make money for themselves off people they hire with that very thought in mind.
That's not merely hypocritical behavior.
It's sub-human.

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