Sheriff Arpaio Slapped With Another Civil Rights Lawsuit Over Arrests

SheriffJoeArpaioThe man who boasts he is “America’s Toughest Sheriff” — and who is being investigated by the Department of Justice for civil rights violations — this week added another lawsuit to thousands already pending against him.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona are suing Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, and several of his deputies for the illegal arrest and detention of a U.S. citizen and a legal resident.

The ACLU suit contends that Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) deputies racially profiled the father and son, Julian and Julio Mora, as they drove their pickup truck on a busy public road and illegally arrested and detained them, violating the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law and prohibition on unreasonable seizures.

Harini Raghupathi, an attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, told us,  “The unlawful arrest and detention that Julian and Julio Mora suffered highlights MCSO’s pattern of blatant disregard for the fundamental protections of the Fourth Amendment” of the U.S. Constitution. That provision bars unlawful searches and seizures without probable cause and a warrant.

“This country was founded on the freedom of individuals to go about their business without fear of being unlawfully stopped, picked up, or interrogated by the government. Here, we see the Moras were denied this most essential freedom,” she said.

According to the ACLU, Julian Mora was driving to work when, without provocation, an MCSO vehicle cut in front of him forcing him to stop abruptly. MCSO deputies then ordered the father and son out of their vehicle, then frisked and handcuffed them.

The complaint says, “Although the deputies had no reason to believe that the Moras had broken any law or were in the country unlawfully, they transported the Moras to Handyman Maintenance, Inc. (HMI), where MCSO was conducting a raid that morning. For the next three hours, the Moras were held at HMI, where they were denied food and water and forbidden contact with the outside world. They were not released until they were interrogated.”

It continues: “The ordeal was particularly humiliating for 66-year-old Julian Mora who, due to his diabetic condition, has difficulty controlling his bladder and had an urgent need to use the bathroom. MCSO personnel, however, rejected his repeated requests. Eventually, deputies escorted him outside where he was made to urinate in the parking lot. MCSO personnel later mocked his son Julio when he had to use the bathroom, because he had difficulty going with his hands still cuffed.”

Nineteen-year-old Julio Mora, a U.S. citizen, says, “To this day, I don’t know why the officers stopped us out of all the cars on the road. We were treated like criminals and never told why. I was very scared. I never thought something like this would happen to me. Now I know it can happen to anyone, citizens too. I don’t think it’s fair.”

Civil libertarians say the latest lawsuit is emblematic of anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. – arguably most intense in states that border Mexico – and of mixed signals coming from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), whose Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unit has Federal responsibility for enforcing immigration regulations.

Under the administration of former President Bill Clinton, Congress passed a comprehensive immigration bill in 1996. The legislation contains a little-known section called 278(g), which authorizes local law enforcement to engage in raids on businesses believed to have employees who are undocumented, and to arrest and detain those workers.

During the George W. Bush presidency, use of 278(g) was aggressively ramped up. By August 2008, more than 840 officers in twenty states were deputized, and 70,000 immigrants detained. County sheriffs make up 62 percent of ICE partners.

In recent weeks, despite objections from civil rights lawyers and many law enforcement agencies, the Obama Administration’s new secretary of DHS, Janet Napolitano, indicated her intention to expand this program, though she says it will now focus on illegal immigrants who are known to be serious criminals. ICE asserts that the 287(g) program is not designed to crack down on overcrowded apartments, day laborer activities, or traffic offenses.

The Bush Administration granted the largest and most powerful 287(g) contract to Sheriff Arpaio, despite the fact that jails under his supervision cost his county over $43 million in death and abuse lawsuits. Arpaio is accused of housing prisoners in tents, making them appear before media TV cameras wearing pink underwear, shackling them in chain gangs, and trespassing into neighboring jurisdictions to unlawfully dump immigrants at the border for deportation. Traffic violators and day laborers are Arpaio’s main targets.

Eleven agencies in the country have signed the new so-called 287(g) agreement, while 66 agencies operating under the old program — including Arpaio’s — were given 90 days starting July 10 to decide whether they want to agree to follow the revamped program. The new regulations require Arpaio to clear plans for immigration sweeps in advance with ICE and coordinate the release of information to the news media.

Arpaio, who called the new program “an amnesty for illegal immigrants,” has not yet indicated whether he will accept DHS’s new terms. He said, “I’m not going to bend to the federal government, I’m going to do my job. I don’t report to the federal government, I report to the people.” He has been reelected multiple times.

But, even as he considered the new arrangements, Arpaio launched a three-day immigration sweep east of metro Phoenix on July 24. Deputies arrested 74 people; 25 of them were illegal immigrants.

The Associated Press reports that this sweep was the latest of 10 Arpaio has conducted in the last two and a half years. Many were held in heavily Latino areas in metropolitan Phoenix, with deputies stopping drivers for traffic violations.

The sweeps generated protests of racial profiling and have led to a Justice Department investigation of Arpaio. Arpaio said the people who were pulled over were approached because deputies had probable cause to believe they had committed crimes. The raids have not resulted in the conviction of any employer for an employer sanctions violation.

But even if Arpaio declines to sign on to the new DHS regulations, he has made it clear that intends to continue cracking down on illegal immigration by enforcing more limited Arizona immigration laws.

Arpaio has a long history of conflict with other law enforcement and judicial authorities. As reported by William Finnegan in The New Yorker magazine, “A federal investigation found Arpaio’s deputies used ‘stun guns’ on inmates strapped into restraint chairs; some have died in those chairs. One lawsuit brought by a dead prisoners’ family ended in an $8 million settlement after “a surveillance video that showed fourteen guards beating, shocking, and suffocating the prisoners, and after the sheriff’s office was accused of discarding evidence, including the crushed larynx of the deceased.”

From 2004 through November 2007, Arpaio was the target of 2,150 lawsuits in U.S. District Court and hundreds more in Maricopa County courts — 50 times as many prison-conditions lawsuits as the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston jail systems combined.

Arpaio is also named in a class-action lawsuit that centers on the treatment of pretrial detainees. The suit claims Arpaio is violating the constitutional rights of those detainees.

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11 Responses for “Sheriff Arpaio Slapped With Another Civil Rights Lawsuit Over Arrests”

  1. ken anderson says:

    Apart from the utter racism of the guy, why is there one there screaming that this jackass is costing the county a fortune. Furthermore, why have this clown and his deputies not been arrested for torture and murder?

    Oh, I forgot. Under certain circumstances, torture and murder are now condoned as a nü-nominal aspect of detention.

  2. Rob Bert says:

    You and Napolitano would make great bed partners, with her on the top. You certainly are no American, so where are you from? Probably the mexican drug cartels!!!!! That is why you are now condoning torture and murder. I would be willing to bet you are another disgraceful ACLU member, who has sold out his allegance to his country. Of course, you may also belong to twisted Acorn as another of your credentials. I can only pity you, who is the great jackass of all time.

  3. Tom2 says:

    If all the illegal aliens would get the heck out of our nation, all these nuisance lawsuits would stop and the ACLU, SPLC, LA RAZA, MALDEF, et al., would have to find other clients. A blind 2-year-old can see America’s fed up with illegal immigration. Going home would save us a trillion dollars. Only the illegals are too stupid to see they’re not wanted here. And only Sheriff Arpaio seems able to help us at city hall. Write your congressmen folks or the illegals are gonna’ multiply their anchors again.

  4. Vincent says:

    My good God! Here we have a GENUINE American sheriff doing the work the U.S. Army should be doing, ( That is protect and defend the United States ) but instead, we have Sheriff Joe filling in for the U.S. Army and doing the best he can while stomaching the ultimate insult – The Justice Department is investigating Sheriff Joe Arpaio and bringing against him a “Civil Rights suit? Absurd and bizarre!
    The Justice Department should be slapped with a suit for “masquerading” as a U.S. Government Department! Not helping the U.S. citizen is our own government!
    We can no longer depend on the government to defend the U.S. We have been, and continue to be invaded by illegals. When our crooked untruthful government. who does not defend us, you can believe what they say is just another lie! STOP ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION NOW! DEPORT ILLEGAL ALIENS.

  5. Kelly Christie says:

    Let’s put the racism and profiling aside and just assume it will somehow fix the illegal immigrant problem.
    How can anyone support a sherriff and police department that uses tools that include: illegal arrest, abuse, torture, and murder?
    They should be prosecuted and jailed immediately.
    Police can be effective without being barbaric.
    Joe Arpaio is nothing but a sadist.

  6. Doug says:


    If you don’t mind your tax dollars being spent on illegal aliens, then you can pay a special tax every year. I think we should start out with $8,000 a year. Of course this could be adjusted each year and increased or decreased as necessary.

  7. Henry Bemis says:

    Hey here’s an idea,Anyone who had ancestors here to greet Columbus and/or the Spanish Conquistadors can stay,everybody else,GTFO now,how about that all you ignorant mouth breathing knuckle draggers,YOUR the illegal immigrants.

  8. Tom2 says:

    To Kelly: Mexico is not a race. It’s just a second rate country loaded with illiterate peons, drug dealers and corrupt government officials. Latinos legally here are Americans. Mexicans are not. Get it?

    To Henry: Would you open the borders to everyone or just to Mexicans? No spin this time. Just answer the question.

  9. Ben Petterson says:

    Please people think before you speak. it is clear that most of you are forming your opinions on generalizations, emotions and pure ignorance. For example, Tom that claims that Mexico is a “second rate county. “is he speaking about Mexico’s economic, social, cultural, ethical status and perspectives or is he speaking about the Mexico “he see” in the media. In addition, America is a continent, by definition, Mexicans are Americans. Please people, think before you speak.

    Just one more thing. The U.S is facing a recession, since a few years back. Everyone is trying to do their best to provide for their families and themselves. For many Mexicans or as some people called them, humans, have been “trying to survive and provide” for many years now.

  10. Pepito says:

    Tom you need to be Water boarded scum!

  11. IMcool says:

    Tom you are indeed an idiot. Did you read the part that says he is killing white people in his prisons not just Hispanics either way its not right and its crazy that he is getting away with murder . It would be really cool if he put you in one of his chairs, strapped you down, put a bag over your face so you couldnt breath then squeezed you larnyx until you were dead then you wouldnt think he was cool would you?

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