What Does Sheriff Arpaio Have To Do with Immigration Reform?

Last month, a U.S. District Court in Phoenix issued a 142-page decision against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) in Ortega Melendres v. Arpaio.  After  a three-week trial, the court found that MCSO had an unconstitutional policy of targeting Latinos for traffic stops and of detaining Latinos based on nothing more than a suspicion of being undocumented immigrants.  The court noted that MCSO admitted to using “Hispanic appearance” to determine who was suspected of immigration violations and that Sheriff Arpaio had acted upon racially biased constituent letters in deciding where to conduct “saturation patrols.” During these "saturation patrols," (known to residents as immigration sweeps) over 70% of people arrested were Latino – in a county where Latinos make up only a third of the total population.  As the federal court pointed out, the policy of racial profiling and illegal detentions arose from the Sheriff's single-minded focus on arresting undocumented immigrants regardless of the cost for everyone's civil rights and public safety. 

The Arpaio decision is an enormous victory for everyone in Maricopa County – and particularly for those courageous individuals who stood up for civil rights in the face of racially charged discrimination by the very law enforcement authorities responsible for protecting the community.   The court's ruling established that no one is above the law and put an immediate stop to the MCSO's policies.  The order lifted a shadow of fear that had left a third of the county's residents unable to go about their daily business without the fear of being pulled over and interrogated about their right to be in their own county, just because they are Latino or look Latino.

The federal court ruling against MCSO is of great importance far beyond the boundaries of one county in Arizona because what happened in Maricopa County did not, alas, stay in Maricopa County. Unfortunately, local sheriffs and police chiefs in many parts of the country have adopted similar policies, with similar patterns of constitutional violations as they have become entangled in local immigration enforcement efforts. Alamance County, North Carolina, is one example.  The U.S. Department of Justice has brought a lawsuit against the sheriff there for the same pattern of discrimination against Latinos in traffic stops, again by an agency that has publicly announced a focus on going after undocumented immigrants.

Indeed, Arpaio's practices were entrenched and formalized as a matter of state law when the Arizona legislature passed its anti-immigrant SB 1070 law.  From Arizona, these policies spread to other states including Alabama.  What we have learned from Arizona is that when local officers are forced to go after undocumented immigrants - whether as a matter of a sheriff's dictate or state law - they will default to using racial profiling and illegal stops in violation of people's rights. This poses a danger to civil rights and liberties well beyond one state.

In fact, prominent police chiefs and sheriffs from around the country urged the Supreme Court to hold Arizona’s SB 1070 unconstitutional because it would be impossible for local law enforcement officers to determine who’s an undocumented immigrant, and that trying to do so would divert critical resources away from the real job of policing our communities.  That is exactly what has happened, spurring growing opposition to the troubling entanglements between federal immigration authorities and local and state law enforcement.

Recent polls show that the vast majority of Americans are tired of such unconstitutional and unwise immigration policies and want Congress to enact commonsense immigration reform that puts immigrants who are already making contributions to our communities on the road to U.S. citizenship. 

So what does Joe Arpaio have to do with commonsense immigration reform? 

As Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado said on the Senate floor right before the historic passage of S. 744 by a 68-32 margin, immigration is the federal government’s responsibility.  The bipartisan Senate bill is a compromise measure that puts extraordinary – indeed, wasteful and excessive – resources toward border enforcement but also provides for a road to citizenship and significant improvements to the immigration detention and deportation system.  The Senate wisely carried out its job of regulating immigration at the federal level. We hope the House of Representatives takes a similarly sensible approach. The House Judiciary Committee’s passage of the so-called “SAFE Act” unfortunately attempts to open the door to more state and local meddling in immigration matters.  The proposal would effectively apply Maricopa County’s unconstitutional example throughout our country, leading to the rampant violation of our most basic American freedoms and leaving communities less safe as distrust and fear of the police takes root.

Let’s be clear:  Any member of Congress who votes to give state and local police the power to do immigration enforcement is voting to open the door to widespread racial profiling and illegal detentions throughout the United States.  That can be no part of real reform.  America deserves better.

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Bongo Poflogg

It's always important to remember that all immigration policy in the Western world is part of a larger program of White genocide. This program doesn't use bullets, gas, or starvation. Instead, it's genocide by forced assimilation with the 3rd world. ALL White countries are required to take in millions of non-Whites and mix with them. White are not allowed countries, communities, or institutions. Asians, Africans, Jews, Arabs, etc are free to have their own spaces and organizations to pursue their destinies. White are denied this right. It's genocide.


the ACLU is an organization spawned from Satan out of the very bowels of hell. You all should be ashamed. But unfortunately, you will all answer to God, unless you repent. I feel enormously sorry for you, Blind, Ignorant, Lost Souls.


Sheriff Joe has the right idea...these Illegals need to go to Jail


Sheriff Joe is a Hero...these Illegals are criminals.


"commonsense immigration reform that puts immigrants who are already making contributions to our communities on the road to U.S. citizenship."

The supposed mission of the ACLU is protecting rights under law but there is no right of foreign nationals to reside in this country. Taking a stand on legalization of unlawfully present aliens makes the ACLU look like just another member of the open border lobby and gives legitimacy to the belief that they are just another group with a political agenda, not apolitical defenders of rights under law.


"What does Joe Arpaio have to do with commonsense immigration reform?"

Simple - whatever Joe does, the opposite is the correct thing to do.


"The court's ruling established that no one is above the law and put an immediate stop to the MCSO's policies. "

I wonder if the ACLU thinks that unauthorized foreign nationals are above the law. They sure act like it.


I love this article its retarded it says that 70% that were pulled over were latinoes but it fails to mention how many of the 70% were actually illegal. I'm guessing all 70% way to joe get the blood suckers out of our society and free us from these job whores.


This article sucks it complains about 70% of the ppl pulled over were latino ( racial profiling ) yet it fails to mention how many were actually illegal. I'm gonna guess all of them. It's not racial profiling asians dont live in mexico nor do jews so yes you are going to pull over latinos its a rampant problem out west and we need to take a stand against these criminals.


The fault for the current immigration mess does not lie with Joe Arpaio, nor does it lie with the illegal immigrants seeking a better life . . . the fault lies with a Congress that refuses to enforce existing law AND for giving tacit approval for the poor souls in Third World Central American countries to emigrate from their own benighted lands. Any one of us would follow their same example were we living under such deprived conditions. That, however, does not alter the fact that entering the US under such circumstances is a violation of existing law. When a country begins to selectively enforce its own laws for economic convenience ("They do jobs Americans won't do." etc.), said country opens the door to societal chaos. What other laws are we to start ignoring? Freedom exists ONLY under the rule of law.


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