Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The state of Arizona has been the center of a lot of controversy over the last few years. The issue over SB1070, which allows officers to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect might be illegal, is still unsettled, as the Obama administration has challenged the constitutional grounds of the law, which Governor Jan Brewer has decried. The feud between the Grand Canyon State and the federal government has intensified, as the Justice Department is suing the controversial Sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio. The Justice Department says that Sheriff Joe Arpaio has not cooperated with an investigation of civil rights abuses.

Sheriff Joe suspected of discrimination

The initial investigation was launched on suspicion that the tactics employed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio deliberately target Hispanics, irrespective of legal status, in order to “sweep” illegal immigrants. The Maricopa County Sheriff sends deputies into heavily Hispanic areas, where they will stop anyone for minor reasons, according to the Los Angeles Times. At the point of detention, deputies will check the immigration status of suspects. This practice has been carried out since before the controversial Arizona immigration law was proposed. The Justice Department requested documentation on these sweeps from Sheriff Arpaio, which he was loathe to comply with. Allegedly, he denied federal investigators access to buildings and refused to hand over requested material.

No stranger to lawsuits

The Maricopa Sheriff is no stranger to lawsuits. He has been sued numerous times by families of inmates who have died in his jail, the notorious Tent City, which is quite literally a collection of tents in the desert surrounded by high fences with barbed wire at the top. There is also an ongoing grand jury investigation into Sheriff Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for corruption, according to ABC. The Justice Department made the initial request for documents and other materials more than a year ago. A federal judge found the Sheriff’s Office had destroyed documents pertaining to the sweeps in question that attorneys suing Arpaio’s department were entitled to see.



Los Angeles Times

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