The problem with making a lot of noise when you go after undocumented immigrants, ala sheriff Joe Arpaio, is that you’re making a lot of noise. When you do that you draw attention, which may be what you wanted to do to begin with, but that kind of stuff has a tendency to come back to bite a chunk out of your back side. Case in point: the Obama administration has announced that it’s preparing to sue sheriff Joe for violating the civil rights of Latino citizens.
The problem is that Arpaio went all-out in his pursuit of the undocumented, egged on by the raucous right wing anti-immigrant echo chamber. He was bound to overstep, somewhere. It’s a nuance that Latinos understand, saw coming, and weren’t surprised when it happened. Apparently neither was the Obama administration.
According to Reuters:
The administration’s Justice Department and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office have been in settlement talks for months over allegations that officers regularly made unlawful stops and arrests of Latinos, used excessive force against them and failed to adequately protect the Hispanic community.
Those talks went nowhere because the DOJ wanted an independent monitor to oversee Arpaio’s compliance with the settlement – apparently Arpaio balked. The bulk of the matter, though, is simple:
The Justice Department in a December report outlined numerous alleged civil rights violations, including that Latino drivers were four to nine times more likely to be stopped than non-Latinos by Arpaio’s force.
The sheriff has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing and lashed out at the Obama administration for targeting his department and failing to deal with the problem of illegal immigration with some 11.5 million believed to be in the United States.
And so it’s come to a lawsuit, a showdown in a courtroom. But Arpaio has been under investigation for these matters since 2008, during the Bush administration. It looks like this thing is finally coming to a head.
[Photo by Gage Skidmore]