Published February 16, 2012
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio wants a court to reverse course.
Arpaio's lawyers are urging an appeals court to reverse a ruling barring his deputies from stopping people because they believe they are undocumented.
Attorneys for the sheriff told the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that a lower-court's Dec. 23 ruling that limited the sheriff's immigration powers was deeply flawed. The sheriff's lawyers appealed the ruling in mid-January and filed their first brief on Friday.
U.S. District Judge Murray Snow had made the decision in a lawsuit by a handful of Latinos who alleged that Arpaio's officers based some traffic stops on the race of Hispanics in vehicles, had no probable cause to pull them over and made the stops so they could inquire about their immigration status.
Arpaio has denied the racial profiling allegations, saying people pulled over in the patrols were approached because deputies had probable cause to believe they had committed crimes and that it was only afterward that deputies found many of them were undocumented immigrants.
During his immigration patrols known as "sweeps," deputies flood an area of a city -- in some cases, heavily Latino areas -- over several days to seek out traffic violators and arrest other offenders. Undocumented immigrants accounted for 57 percent of the 1,500 people arrested in the 20 sweeps conducted by his office since January 2008.
Separate from the lawsuit, the U.S. Justice Department has accused Arpaio's office of racially profiling Latinos, basing immigration enforcement on racially charged citizen complaints and punishing Hispanic jail inmates for speaking Spanish.
The sheriff's office said it doesn't discriminate against Latinos and is negotiating to resolve the allegations, but is prepared to go to court if the Justice Department files a lawsuit.
The legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, Dan Pochoda, said the judge never ruled that deputies must have reasonable suspicion of all elements of the immigrant smuggling law.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona is one of the group's representing people who filed the lawsuit
Pochoda also said the judge's ruling didn't effectively prevent Arpaio's deputies from enforcing the smuggling law. Since the ruling, Arpaio's office has made arrests under the smuggling law.
"The key arguments, apparently, from the people who wrote the briefs are based on things that didn't happen, based on mischaracterizations of what the judge did," Pochoda said.
The lawyers pushing the lawsuit face a March 9 deadline for filing their first brief responding to Arpaio's appeal.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.