Justice Department Sues Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio
The Justice Department on Thursday sued Joe Arpaio, a prominent Arizona sheriff known for his crackdowns aimed at rounding up illegal immigrants, accusing him of discrimination and retaliating against his critics. The move, in an election year, escalated a politically charged fight over local enforcement of federal immigration laws and the civil rights of Latinos.
In a 32-page civil rights lawsuit against Mr. Arpaio and his Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, the Justice Department contended that Mr. Arpaio’s campaign against illegal immigration — including traffic stops and sweeps of homes and workplaces — had resulted in a “pattern or practice of unlawful discrimination” aimed at Latinos.
Mr. Arpaio’s focus on immigration enforcement has eroded the relationship between law enforcement and the Latino community here, with Latinos growing increasingly wary of cooperating with the authorities when they are victims or witnesses of crimes. The lawsuit also argues that the resources devoted to the sweeps have required the sheriff’s office to put a lower priority on traditional local law enforcement responsibilities, like investigating rapes and domestic violence.