Thursday, May 10, 2012

Reason #194: Subpoena, Please

Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, is largely credited as instigating the current rush of "papers please" anti-immigrant laws across the south. Since 2006, his department has been unlawfully detaining people--traffic stops being the banner offense here--for failing to present proof to officers that they are legal residents of the US.

Naturally, if a cop in Arizona sees you drive by and gets suspicious that you're an illegal immigrant, odds are that you look less like Jerry Seinfeld and more like Jerry Garcia--and as such, many have alleged that what Arpaio and his posse are doing constitutes racial profiling. Once an individual is picked up by the cops, they are often then forced to respond to orders, and sign waivers, presented solely in English, or face even harsher consequences.

While making no secrets about its opposition to this state of affairs, the Obama administration helpfully and, I think, very reasonably, suggested implementing a training program for Arpaio's officers so that they could at least enforce the county's patently unconstitutional policies  as constitutionally as possible. Arpaio bristled at even that, taking offense at the administration "telling me how to run my organization", and has not only refused to play ball, but is alleged to have engaged in retaliation against local attorneys and judges who have spoken out against him.

Well, today, The Justice Department sued Maricopa County, the sheriff's office, and Joe Arpaio personally. Which, if I've learned anything about the government in the last year or so, means that at the very least he'll be too busy with court proceedings to harrass many immigrants from now on.

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