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DOJ sues Joe Arpaio over civil rights investigation documents

The Department of Justice has sued Joe Arpaio - sheriff of Maricopa County - claiming that he's obstructed their investigation into possible racial profiling. This is, needless to say, the Obama administration's latest attack on Arizona in an attempt to prevent states from doing the job the federal government won't do: try to reduce illegal immigration. And, those attacks are preventable if people would work to reduce illegal immigration in smart ways.

From the DOJ's press release [1]:

The department filed today’s lawsuit after exhausting all cooperative measures to gain access to MCSO’s documents and facilities, as part of the department’s investigation of alleged discrimination in MCSO’s police practices and jail operations. Since March 2009, the department has attempted to secure voluntary compliance with the department’s investigation. MCSO’s refusal to cooperate with the investigation makes it an extreme outlier and the department is unaware of any other police department or sheriff’s office that has refused to cooperate in the last 30 years.

“The actions of the sheriff's office are unprecedented. It is unfortunate that the department was forced to resort to litigation to gain access to public documents and facilities,” said (Thomas Perez), Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

The department’s investigation of MCSO concerns alleged discrimination against Hispanics, in violation of the prohibition on national origin discrimination in Title VI; the pattern or practice provisions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968; and the pattern or practice provisions of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Title VI prohibits discrimination in federally assisted programs on the ground of race, color, or national origin.

UPDATE: From this:

When the Department first informed Arpaio that a probe was under way, back in March 2009, it sent a letter saying the investigation would focus on "alleged patterns or practices of discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures." But now we learn that just six months before that, in September 2008, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, did its own investigation of Arpaio's office -- and gave it a clean bill of health. Arpaio's lawyers recently got a copy of the ICE report through the Freedom of Information Act... ...ICE investigators also interviewed top federal officials involved in illegal immigrant cases in Arizona. They found an "excellent" working relationship between the sheriff's office and the feds. ICE talked as well to federal prosecutors in Phoenix, who described the cases brought by Maricopa County as "high quality."

The report contains this:

"The [Homeland Security Department's Office of Investigation] and [DHS' Detention and Removal Operations] supervisors consider the conduct and performance of the [Maricopa County Sheriff's Office] ... officers to be professional and meeting the requirement of the [memorandum of agreement between Arpaio and the Feds on 287g]."

Recall also that in January of this year, John Morton - the head of ICE - defended Arpaio against charges of profiling.

[1] justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/September/10-crt-993.html

Other tags: obama immigration

Thu, 09/02/2010 - 12:20 · Importance: 4