U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow said in his ruling that evidence showed Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office “aggressively protected its right to engage in immigration and immigration–related enforcement operations even when it had no accurate legal basis for doing so.”
Snow issued an injunction barring Arpaio and his deputies from, among other things, using “race or Latino ancestry” to determine whether to pull over vehicles with Latinos inside; subjecting Latinos to prolonged traffic stops without evidence they were violating federal or state laws; and arresting Latinos without proof that they were undocumented immigrants.
The ruling concluded a class-action civil suit brought against Arpaio and his office by the American Civil Liberties Unionn (ACLU) that grew to represent every Latino driver pulled over in Maricopa County since 2007. Instead of seeking monetary damages, though, the plaintiffs called for those practices to be legally curtailed.
The plaintiffs’ case hinged on a combination of statistical data pointing to a higher likelihood for Latino drivers to be stopped by the department, as well as past statements by both Arpaio and his constituents regarding undocumented immigrants.
According to the ACLU, one witness for the plaintiffs, Temple University researcher Ralph Taylor, found that officers were 46 to 53 percent more likely to stop Latinos during “crime suppression sweeps” ordered by Arpaio compared to regular operations. Traffic stops involving Latinos were also 21 to 25 percent longer than regular stops.
“Facts are facts, statistics are statistics, and they can be interpreted,” Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox told KPHO-TV. “But I thought they were very telling.”
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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