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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

5/12/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Sheriff Joe Arpaio accused of 'unconstitutional and unlawful actions' in the handling of Hispanics

The Justice Department has filed a civil lawsuit in federal court accusing Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona and his office using "unconstitutional and unlawful actions" in their handling of Hispanics. The formal complaint alleges that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) and Sheriff Arpaio, the nation's so-called "toughest sheriff," engaged in and continue to engage in a pattern of discriminatory practices against Hispanics.

'I am the constitutionally and legitimately elected sheriff and I absolutely refuse to surrender my responsibility to the federal government,' he said. 'And so to the Obama administration, who is attempting to strong arm me into submission only for its political gain, I say, 'This will not happen, not on my watch.''

"I am the constitutionally and legitimately elected sheriff and I absolutely refuse to surrender my responsibility to the federal government," he said. "And so to the Obama administration, who is attempting to strong arm me into submission only for its political gain, I say, 'This will not happen, not on my watch.'"

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/12/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Sheriff Joe Araio, Hispanics, department of Justice, Arizona


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Among other allegations, Arpaio and his office are accused of discriminatory and otherwise unconstitutional law enforcement actions against Latinos who are frequently stopped, detained and arrested on the basis of race, color or national origin.

Arpaio's office is also accused of discriminatory jail practices against Latino inmates with limited English skills; and the illegal retaliation against their perceived critics, subjecting them to baseless criminal actions, unfounded civil lawsuits or meritless administrative actions.

A "notice of intent to file civil action" came earlier this week from Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas E. Perez in a letter.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin, a top litigator in the department's Civil Rights Division, issued an ultimatum to Arpaio's office that it was absolutely mandatory for the sheriff's office to agree to an outside monitor otherwise there was no reason for further meetings.

The sheriff said the appointment of an outside monitor "essentially usurps the powers and duties of an elected sheriff" and transfers them to a person or group of persons selected by the federal government.

"Every policy decision, every operation, every new program in the jails and in enforcement, virtually everything would have to be approved by the monitor, nullifying the authority of the elected sheriff and eviscerating the will of the citizens of Maricopa County," he said.

"I am the constitutionally and legitimately elected sheriff and I absolutely refuse to surrender my responsibility to the federal government," he said. "And so to the Obama administration, who is attempting to strong arm me into submission only for its political gain, I say, 'This will not happen, not on my watch.'"

Arpaio's attorney, Jack MacIntyre, called a federal monitor the "most extreme proposal." MacIntyre says that the federal government has refused to provide any details or proof as to how it came to the conclusion that Maricopa County Sheriff's Office employees engage in patterns and practices of racial profiling.

"We have never agreed to a monitor replacing the duly elected sheriff," he said. "We have always been open to negotiating these issues raised by the DOJ, but never the appointment of a monitor."

Last December the Justice Department in a scathing report accused the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office of violating federal law and the Constitution in the handling of Hispanics it arrested and held in its jail system. Perez at the time said a three-year civil investigation found that the sheriff and his deputies engaged in unconstitutional conduct and violations of federal law that jeopardized the sheriff's "commitment to fair and effective" law enforcement.

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