DOJ sues Arpaio for discrimination against Latinos

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

Justice Department (DOJ) officials filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) and Sheriff Joseph Arpaio for routine discrimination against Latinos today.

Arpaio and the MCSO regularly discriminate "against Latinos who are frequently stopped, detained and arrested on the basis of race, color, or national origin," and stopped between four and nine times more often than non-Latinos, according to DOJ.

The discrimination continues after arrest, DOJ alleges. "MCSO mistreats Latino detainees with limited English proficiency by ignoring important requests if they are not made in English and punishing detainees if they fail to understand orders given in English," DOJ says.

DOJ explains that it attempted to negotiate and implement reforms rather than file a lawsuit. "Negotiations were unsuccessfuly, primarily because MCSO and Sheriff Arpaio refused to agree to any independent oversight by a monitor," according to the announcement.

"Arpaio has denied the racial profiling allegations and has claimed that allowing a court monitor would mean that every policy decision would have to be cleared through an observer and would nullify his authority," ABC reported.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano curtailed Arpaio's immigration enforcement powers in December, 2011, when the DOJ released preliminary findings.

"Discrimination undermines law enforcement and erodes the public trust," Napolitano said.  "DHS will not be a party to such practices."

Arpaio has a reputation as "America's toughest sheriff." Recently, he has also undertaken an investigation of Obama's eligibility to be president, arguing that Obama's birth certificate is a forgery.

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