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December 15th, 2011
Grijalva Highlights Justice Dept. Findings of Racial Profiling, Severe Constitutional Violations by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today welcomed the release of damning Department of Justice (DOJ) findings in a long-standing civil rights investigation of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaioand praised the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for terminating its immigration enforcement contract with Arpaio’s office.

According to a summary of the report released earlier today, Arpaio and his staff suffer from “a chronic culture of disregard for basic legal and constitutional obligations.” Arpaio’s operation “engages in racial profiling of Latinos; unlawfully stops, detains and arrests Latinos; and unlawfully retaliates against individuals who complain about or criticize MCSO’s policies and practices,” among other violations, all of which are against federal law, the report says. The summary is available at

Based on the findings, DHS immediately terminated the MCSO’s authority to enforce federal immigration law – known as a 287(g) model agreement – and is restricting future MCSO access to the Secure Communities program.

“There’s nothing fair, equal or constitutional about racial profiling,” Rep. Grijalva said. “Sheriff Arpaio believes physical appearance is probable cause to stop and question individuals about their immigration status. Even after a Department of Justice investigation has told him otherwise, he continues to believe there’s no issue here. His obsessive, politically motivated assault on Hispanics has destroyed public trust in his office and put innocent lives in danger. Federal law enforcement officials are right to name his failed tenure for what it is, and I hope he takes the honorable route by resigning immediately.”

Between 2004 and 2007, approximately 2,700 lawsuits were filed against Arpaiobased on his management of Maricopa County law enforcement operations. The Department of Justice investigation, opened in June 2008, was conducted under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Department of Justice found reasonable cause to believe that a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct and/or violations of federal law occurred in several areas, including:

·         Discriminatory policing practices including unlawful stops, detentions and arrests of Latinos;

·         Unlawful retaliation against individuals exercising their First Amendment right to criticize MCSO’s policies or practices, including but not limited to practices relating to its discriminatory treatment of Latinos; and

·         Discriminatory jail practices against Latino inmates with limited English proficiency by punishing them and denying them critical services.

The Justice Department found a number of long-standing and entrenched systemic deficiencies that caused or contributed to these patterns of unlawful conduct, including:

·         A failure to implement policies guiding deputies on lawful policing practices;

·         Allowing specialized units to engage in unconstitutional practices;

·         Inadequate training;

·         Inadequate supervision;

·         An ineffective disciplinary, oversight and accountability system; and

·         A lack of sufficient external oversight and accountability.

In addition to these formal pattern or practice findings, the investigation uncovered additional areas of serious concern, including: 

·         Use of excessive force;

·         Police practices that have the effect of significantly compromising MCSO’s ability to adequately protect Latino residents; and

Failure to adequately investigate allegations of sexual assaults.

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