Latino activists want controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio to step down from his post and for his deputies to stop their alleged racial profiling of Hispanics in the state. 

The Arizona Republic reports that the activists gathered Monday to herald a court ruling Friday that bars Arpaio's deputies from detaining people based solely on the suspicion that they are undocumented immigrants.

Mere presence is not a crime.

- Antonio Bustamante, civil-rights attorney and director of Los Abogados, Arizona's Hispanic Bar Association

The ruling also gives standing to thousands of Latinos stopped or questioned by the sheriff's office standing in a civil lawsuit.

During Monday's gathering, activists praised the ruling as a confirmation that officers are not authorized to pull anyone over if they think they are an undocumented immigrant. 

"Mere presence is not a crime," said Antonio Bustamante, a civil-rights attorney and director of Los Abogados, Arizona's Hispanic Bar Association, according to the Arizona Republic

Daniel Ortega, a Phoenix attorney who is board chair of the National Council of La Raza, added the ruling protects people's constitutional rights.  "It's the right to be free," he said. "Those of us who were U.S. residents were subject to his (Arpaio's) illegal searches."

Arpaio was traveling on  Monday and unavailable for comment, a spokesman said. 

Arpaio's attorney said last week that he plans to appeal and that deputies will comply with the ruling while continuing to enforce immigration-related laws.

Lydia Guzman, the executive director of the non-profit immigrant advocacy group Respect Respeto, told the Arizona Republic that her group plans to continue to document stories of people allegedly mistreated by Arpaio's office, such as those who said they were handcuffed for hours until they proved they were in the country legally.

"Sheriff Arpaio, we are watching you," Guzman said. 

Based on reporting by the Associated Press. 

Follow us on
Like us at