With the controversy of Arizona’s SB 1070 bill still simmering — despite most of its provisions being scrapped by the U.S. Supreme Court — the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona has filed a civil suit against an Arizona sheriff (and, by extension, his department) of discriminating against Latinos.
It’s the second such suit filed against the Joe Arpaio; the other coming from the federal government, which accused the sheriff of “operating well beyond the bounds of law” when he conducted “crime-suppression sweeps” around 2007. Though not necessarily a direct connection, the sheriff’s alleged actions certainly impact the issue of immigration and how policies such as SB 1070 and Secure Communities can perpetuate racial profiling.
The claims made in the ACLU’s lawsuit say that Arpaio and his department had a “policy of racial discrimination” which dramatically increased the chances of Latinos being pulled over for a traffic stop.
According to the testimony of a criminal justice analyst, Latinos are more likely to have their immigration status checked during a traffic stop than non-Latinos.
While deportation proceedings may be necessary for some illegal immigrants who are pulled over, the systematic targeting of Latino individuals has wide-ranging repercussions for U.S. citizens or people who are in the country legally on a visa; let alone the outrageous violation of civil rights.
Some U.S. citizens have already been illegally detained by immigration officials simply because they are Latino. Others — who have legitimate visas or are sponsored for a green card — are targeted simply because of their appearance, and due to the complexities of immigration law and the myriad number of crossover systems, processes and databases used by federal officials, it can take many hours or even days to verify their immigration status.
Source: CNN, “Arizona sheriff faces civil trial in alleged targeting of Latinos,” Casey Wian and Michael Martinez, July 20, 2012