Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon has asked the FBI to investigate whether Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has violated civil-rights laws in his crackdowns on illegal immigrants, reports the Arizona Republic. Gordon cited a “pattern and practice of conduct that includes discriminatory harassment, improper stops, searches, and arrests.” Arpaio said it was ironic that Gordon wrote the letter on the same day that federal Immigrationsand Customs Enforcement officials from Washington observed his deputies arresting residents and illegal immigrants in Guadalupe and approved of the sheriff’s work. Said Arpaio: “I’ve done nothing wrong.”
During the past month, 200 sheriff’s deputies and posse members have gone into neighborhoods with high Hispanic populations, citing drivers for routine traffic violations and detaining suspected illegal immigrants when federally trained deputies encounter them. The actions have sparked an outcry from civil-rights and immigrant-rights advocates and emboldened Arpaio’s supporters. ICE officials said Arpaio is not violating the formal agreement he has with their office allowing sheriff’s deputies to enforce immigration laws. Arpaio has conducted raids he describes as efforts to suppress crime in problem areas. They have won praise from residents fed up with government inaction on illegal immigration, and harsh criticism from civil libertarians who say the raids have led to racial-profiling and the illegal detainment of U.S. citizens.