Sunday, April 21, 2024

Outrage over Discriminatory Tactics Used by Law Enforcement Officials in Arizona

In Maricopa, Arizona authorities are using controversial tactics in an effort to curb illegal immigration…

Maricopa, which includes Phoenix, is home to more than half of Arizona’s 6.2 million people. It is also the domain of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is determined to make life miserable for illegal immigrants. Trouble is, “Sheriff Joe,” as he is universally known, isn’t too particular about how he and his men identify illegal immigrants, or whether they also harass legal immigrants such as Mr. Ortega, or, for that matter, American citizens who happen to be Hispanic. “We know how to determine whether these guys are illegal,” Mr. Arpaio told the Chicago Tribune recently, “the way the situation looks, how they are dressed, where they are coming from.

Sheriff Joe likes to refer to his blatantly unconstitutional campaign of harassment as “crime suppression sweeps.” These “sweeps” have been denounced not only by Latino groups, which consider them overtly racist, but also by the mayor of Phoenix, who has asked the Justice Department to investigate, and by Gov. Janet Napolitano, who has withdrawn state funding from the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff loves describing himself as a tough guy and delights in humiliating prisoners by, among other things, making them wear pink underwear and swelter in open-air camps. He has gotten away with it — even won reelection — thanks to his colorful public persona and an electorate rattled by the demographic changes caused by immigration, legal and illegal. He denies allegations of racial profiling even as his deputies practice something that looks awfully like it. It’s high time for federal authorities, or courts, to step in to halt what has become a travesty of justice in Arizona.

Washington Post