Arpaio’s Legacy Hangs in the Balance

When historians look back on Joe Arpaio’s legacy as Maricopa County sheriff, one thing they are likely to weigh heavily is the outcome of a 4 1/2-year-old racial-profiling lawsuit that will finally be heard in a federal courthouse in Phoenix this month.

The case alleges that the Sheriff’s Office engaged in institutional discrimination against Latinos when it embarked on what has become the defining mission of Arpaio’s 19-year tenure: immigration enforcement. Over the past six years, Arpaio has made it his hallmark, but his efforts have been met by accusations — by citizens, activists and the U.S. Justice Department — that his agency has engaged in racial profiling and discrimination.

The class-action suit marks the first opportunity for those claims to be put to a legal test. A U.S. district judge’s ruling in the matter will determine for the record whether it is possible for a local law-enforcement agency to serve as immigration cop without racially profiling.

California Senate passes ‘anti-Arizona’ bill to limit federal detainers on illegal immigrants

The California Senate has passed a so-called “anti-Arizona” bill to prevent racial profiling by police and allow local law agencies to ignore federal requests to detain nonviolent illegal immigrants for deportation, a state lawmaker said. The proposal, called the California Trust Act, would be the first state law imposing “detainer reform,” though local governments in Illinois, Wisconsin and elsewhere have enacted similar measures, according to California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s office. No other states have legislation similar to what is now being considered in California, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The California bill would set standards that allow police not to respond to requests from U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement to detain an illegal immigrant — except in cases where the immigrant is a serious or violent convicted felon, Ammiano said in a fact sheet about his proposed bill. Ammiano is a Democrat from San Francisco.

U.S. citizen sues over detention under Se Communities program

A computer spet is suing the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security after a controversial fingerprint-sharing program incorrectly identified him as an illegal immigrant and authorities ordered him detained in a maximum-security prison. The lawsuit is the first legal challenge by a U.S. citizen to the Se Communities program, which the Obama administration has expanded nationwide over the objections of immigration advocacy groups and Democratic governors in Illinois, New York and Massachusetts. Under the program, fingerprints obtained when local authorities arrest a suspect are automatically checked against immigration databases as well as FBI criminal databases. U.S. immigration agents are notified if the results indicate an immigration violation. When James Makowski, a Chicago-area resident who repairs computer networks for companies, pleaded guilty in December 2010 to a felony charge of selling heroin, he was sentenced to four months at a “boot camp”