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Undocumented Get Day in Court in Arizona

April 23, 2015
Plain English Version
Sheriff Joe Arpaio and inmates.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio and inmates.

It is not easy being undocumented.  Arizona is a border state. It has made life very hard for undocumented people. Joe Arpaio is sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. The district includes the city of Phoenix, the largest city in the state.

He is now on trial for the way he treated undocumented workers.

For years, federal law made it easy to stop and question people who “look” like they are undocumented. It is called racial profiling. Here it is ethnic profiling. Sheriff Arpaio’s officers worked hard at enforcing those laws. Arizona state laws added to the powers of local police.

In May 2013, a federal judge ordered Sheriff Arpaio to stop the practice. He was ordered to retrain his officers. The current trial is about whether the sheriff defied the orders of the federal court.

The federal government has reduced the amount of leeway states have to refer cases to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The sheriff said undocumented people are part of “human smuggling” schemes even if they have smuggled themselves into the country.

The judge has accused the sheriff of civil contempt of his orders.

Sheriff Arpaio admitted he defied some of the judge’s orders. He offered to use taxpayer’s money to pay damages. He said he would apologize for his actions.

He said he did not order any officer to defy the orders of the judge. On Tuesday, an officer said he did just that. He said Sheriff Arpaio told him to continue enforcing the immigration laws.

The purpose of the trial is to find out if Sheriff Arpaio intended to be defiant. The officer’s testimony is that he did. If the court agrees, the sheriff may be charged with criminal contempt. He may face jail.

It takes a long time to bring a case like this to a close. This one is not over.

Source: The Arizona Republic April 21, 2015


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