Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Loses Appeal on Immigration Law Limit
A federal appeals court on Tuesday denied an Arizona sheriff’s request to reverse a lower-court decision barring his deputies from detaining people solely on the suspicion that they’re illegal immigrants.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued a 23-page ruling after considering the narrow question of a preliminary injunction while a Phoenix trial court considers the merits of the entire lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The appeals court ruling focused only on the lower court’s limit on Arpaio’s immigration powers and doesn’t confront the case’s ultimate question of whether deputies in Arizona’s most populous county have racially profiled Latinos on their patrols.
A three-judge panel ruled U.S. District Judge Murray Snow didn’t abuse his authority in granting the order and said the ruling didn’t impair the sheriff’s ability to enforce state and federal criminal laws.
A call to Arpaio’s office for reaction to the appeals court ruling wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday evening.
A small group of Latinos claim Arpaio’s deputies pulled over some vehicles only to make immigration status checks during regular traffic patrols and the sheriff’s 20 special immigration patrols.
A federal judge in December ordered Arpaio’s department to refrain from conducting such traffic stops while the class action suit was being considered.
Arpaio appealed, arguing his deputies had probable cause to make the stops.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other attorneys filed a federal lawsuit in 2007 against the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America.”
The Latino group also accuse Arpaio of ordering some of the patrols not based on reports of crime but rather on letters from Arizonans who complained about people with dark skin congregating in an area or speaking Spanish.