U.S. plans to sue Arizona sheriff for targeting Latinos

WASHINGTON Wed Apr 4, 2012 5:55am IST

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Tuesday said it was preparing to sue Arizona county sheriff Joe Arpaio and his department for violating civil rights laws by improperly targeting Latinos in a bid to crack down on illegal immigrants.

The sheriff's high-profile crackdown on illegal immigrants has helped thrust the issue onto the national political stage with some states passing tough new laws aimed at pushing out those in the country illegally.

The administration's Justice Department and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office have been in settlement talks for months over allegations that officers regularly made unlawful st ops an d arrests of Latinos, used excessive force against them and failed to adequately protect the Hispanic community.

Those negotiations have broken down because of a fight over the Justice Department's demand that an independent monitor be appointed by a federal court to oversee compliance with the settlement, which has now reached 128 pages in draft form, according to the Obama administration.

"We believe that you are wasting time and not negotiating in good faith," Roy Austin, deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's civil rights division, said in a letter to the lawyer for Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO).

Austin said in the letter that Arpaio's team demanded that a meeting slated for Wednesday include for the first time negotiations over the monitor and previously had demanded that the Justice Department provide more details about its findings.

"MCSO's refusal to engage in good faith negotiations requires us to prepare for civil (court) action," Austin said. He added that the Justice Department has recently discovered more information about the "failure to reasonably investigate sex crimes" by Arpaio's office.

The Justice Department in a December report outlined numerous alleged civil rights violations, including that Latino drivers were four to nine times more likely to be stopped than non-Latinos by Arpaio's force.

The sheriff has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing and lashed out at the Obama administration for targeting his department and failing to deal with the problem of illegal immigration with some 11.5 million believed to be in the United States.

In a strongly worded statement on Tuesday, Arpaio said the appointment of a monitor would force him to abdicate responsibility for his police force, including decisions about policies, operations, jail programs and enforcement.

"To the Obama administration, who is attempting to strong arm me into submission only for its political gain, I say: This will not happen, not on my watch!" Arpaio said in the statement.

Arpaio's force has been under investigation by federal authorities since 2008 during the Bush administration. Obama's Justice Department spent months fighting for access to documents and to some of his deputies. Arpaio was interviewed twice during the probe.

(Additional reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix; Editing by Anthony Boadle)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
AgeofPurple wrote:
Some of those “Latinos” are indigenous to the Americas with a relationship to the land that goes back thousands of years. They are not “illegal immigrants” It is the recent immigrants from overseas who have been encroaching on the North American continent for the last 520 years since Christopher Columbus who are the “illegal immigrants”. It is immoral and inherently wrong for the so-called United States to be applying its immigration policies to people indigenous to the Americas.

Apr 04, 2012 9:36pm IST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Korean Boat Tragedy

Family members of a missing passenger onboard the South Korean ferry Sewol which capsized on Wednesday, look at the sea as they wait for news from a rescue team, at a port in Jindo April 19, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Sunken Korea ferry relatives give DNA swabs to help identify dead

Relatives of some of the more than 200 children missing in a sunken South Korean ferry offered DNA swabs on Saturday to help identify the dead as a rescue turned into a mission to recover the vessel and the bodies of those on board.  Full Article 

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Everest Tragedy

Everest Tragedy

Death toll climbs in worst tragedy on Everest  Full Article 

Missing Plane

Missing Plane

Current underwater search for Malaysia plane could end within a week  Full Article 

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Putin welcomes new NATO head, says better ties with West possible  Full Article 

Japan Military

Japan Military

Japan expands army footprint for first time in 40 years, risks angering China  Full Article 

Journalists Released

Journalists Released

Kidnapped French journalists found on Turkey's Syrian border   Full Article 

Papal Message

Papal Message

Pope Good Friday service underscores plight of the suffering.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage