Arpaio Ordered to Stop|the Racial Profiling

     PHOENIX (CN) – A federal judge on Friday barred Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies from continuing their practice of racially profiling Latinos during immigration patrols and traffic stops.
     Five people and the organization Somos America (We Are America) sued Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) in a 2007 class action, after the individual plaintiffs claimed they were racially profiled by sheriff’s deputies and detained during crime suppression sweeps.
     Arpaio instructs deputies to detain anyone believed to be in the country illegally, contact the deputies’ supervisors and then wait to hear from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement on how to proceed, according to the ruling.
     That “results in an unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution,” U.S. District G. Murray Snow wrote in Friday’s opinion, issued about eight months after a seven-day trial.
     Although the sheriff’s office acknowledged during trial that “Latino ancestry is not a factor on which it can rely in arriving at reasonable suspicion or forming probable cause that a person is in the United States without authorization,” sheriff’s deputies continued to take Latino ancestry into account when encountering suspects, Snow found.
     He noted that “while the MCSO did prohibit racial profiling, it understood racial profiling to mean making law enforcement decisions based exclusively on racial factors.
     “The MCSO did not understand this term, in an immigration context, to prohibit the use of race as a factor among others in making a law enforcement decision. Thus, MCSO deputies could consider race as one factor in stopping a vehicle or initiating an investigation so long as race was not the sole basis on which deputies made that decision,” Snow wrote in the 142-page ruling.
     Snow said that while factors other than race might be used to establish reasonable suspicion that an immigration violation has occurred, “that possibility does not justify the MCSO’s systematic policy in using race as a factor in forming reasonable suspicion.”
     “Further, it is apparent that allowing the MCSO to consider race as one factor among others in forming reasonable suspicion will produce irreparable injury to the Plaintiff class,” Snow wrote.
     The ruling bars the sheriff’s office from “using Hispanic ancestry or race as any factor in making law enforcement decisions pertaining to whether a person is authorized to be in the country.” It also stops the agency from “unconstitutionally lengthening stops.”
     Evidence presented “demonstrates that during many saturation patrol stops, officers investigated the identities of and arrested multiple passengers on immigration violations, while also being responsible for issuing a citation to the driver,” Snow found.
     “[T]o the extent that officers considered race as a necessary factor in forming the reasonable suspicion on which they prolonged the stop, they had insufficient basis for both the reasonable suspicion and the prolonged stop,” Snow wrote.
     The plaintiffs in the class action did not seek monetary damages.
     “Singling people out for traffic stops and detentions because they are Latino is unconstitutional and just plain un-American,” said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Let this be a warning to any agency trying to enforce the ‘show me your papers’ provision of SB 1070 and similar laws – there is no exception in the Constitution for immigration enforcement.”
     The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is expected to appeal the ruling.

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