Thursday, May 23, 2024

Arizona Sheriff Accused of Racist Tactics to be Investigated by Department of Justice

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice opened an investigation against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio due to his alleged patterns of racial discrimination against Hispanics. Activists have long complained of his use of racial profiling in Maricopa County to detain citizens and legal residents on the sheer suspicion that they are undocumented.

In early February, Arpaio rounded up 200 immigrant detainees and forced them to march, shackled, surrounded by electric fences in the Arizona desert. Shockingly, these men were being held on pretrial detention and had not yet been convicted of any crime.

Following February’s incident civil and immigrant rights  of, delivered 35,000 petitions calling on the Department of Justice to investigate the sheriff. The petitions were delivered to government agencies Wednesday by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Min.), Immigration Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), other members of Congress and national immigration advocate leaders.

The petition also calls for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to end its agreement with the sheriff and its 287(g) program, which authorizes collaboration between local and federal authorities in enforcing immigration laws.

Last week, a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that the lack of internal controls in supervising the 287(g) program has led some police departments to focus on arresting immigrants for minor crimes rather than concentrating on more serious offenses, such as in Arpaio’s case.

“In the short term, we hope the Department of Justice will investigate the horrendous abuses by Sheriff Arpaio in Maricopa County, and the DHS will end its 287(g) agreement with the sheriff because it is being used to violate people’s rights,” said Adam Luna, political director of America’s Voice, a non-profit dedicated to immigration reform.

In an effort to address the controversy, Noticiero Telemundo reporter Pedro Sevcec interviewed the sheriff asking him to explain why his tactics shouldn’t be deemed racist. The defiant sheriff insists that he is only doing his job and that the undocumented come here to steal jobs from citizens and legal residents.

Sevcec also interviewed Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, who said that there is “definitely” discrimination and racial profiling occurring in Maricopa Country.

“The man does things you can’t agree with because he discriminates against undocumented people and Hispanics in general. In Maricopa County, he arrests people for their appearance; if someone looks Hispanic, he assumes they are undocumented,” said Sevcec after the interview.

More than 2,700 lawsuits have already been filed against Arpaio. While the sheriff has been focusing on pursuing undocumented Hispanics, more than 40,000 arrest warrants against criminals have not been served.

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