Maricopa County, Az., Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies violated the constitutional rights of Latinos by targeting them during raids and traffic stops, says a federal judge’s ruling reported by the New York Times. U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow’s ruling delivered the most decisive defeat so far to Arpaio, who symbolizes the state’s strict approach to immigration enforcement by making it the leading mission for many of his 800 deputies.
The 142-page decision includes stinging criticism of the policies and practices of Arpaio, who the judge said had turned much of his focus to arresting immigrants who were in the country illegally, in most cases civil violations, at the expense of fighting crimes. He said the sheriff relied on racial profiling and illegal detentions to target Latinos, using their ethnicity as the main basis for suspecting they were in the U.S. illegally. Many of the people targeted were American citizens or legal residents. The ruling prohibits the sheriff's office from using “race or Latino ancestry” as a factor in deciding to stop any vehicle with Latino occupants, or as a factor in deciding whether they may be in the country without authorization.