Human Rights Violations at Maricopa County Arizona [Sojourners]
Imagine your neighbors being targeted and arrested without cause, simply because they are Latino. Then, imagine undocumented immigrants being paraded in shackles across town to publicly humiliate them in front of media cameras. Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona’s Maricopa County creates dehumanizing scenes like these on a regular basis.
Sheriff Arpaio’s flagrant racial profiling tactics could spread beyond Maricopa County unless we send a clear message that they will no longer be tolerated. As Christians, we must speak out against the violation of the basic human dignity of our neighbors, whom Jesus has called us to love.
Send a message to stop these immoral and inhumane tactics in Arizona.
According to The Arizona Republic, Sheriff Arpaio’s track record includes immigration sweeps that target anyone “guilty of looking Latino,” entering private homes without warrants, taking mothers from their children during traffic stops, and parading shackled detainees in front of the news media.1
Think abuses in Maricopa County are only a local concern? Think again. Sheriff Arpaio illustrates the dangerous consequences of our broken national immigration system. Since U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement cannot effectively enforce our current laws, it gives authority—and your federal taxpayer dollars—to local officials. Some local agencies use this power responsibly; others, like Sheriff Arpaio, do not.
Sheriff Arpaio once said, “Do you think I’m going to report to the federal government? I don’t report to them. If they don’t like the contract, they can close it up.2” We couldn’t agree with his suggestion more, but ending his contract is not enough: a deeper investigation is in order.
Join prominent members of Congress and the Mayor of Phoenix in requesting a Justice Department investigation into “discriminatory harassment, improper stops, searches, and arrests” of Latinos by Sheriff Arpaio.3
“It was very humiliating to be handcuffed in front of my family’s business, in front of customers and neighbors. It’s not a crime to be Latino or listen to a Spanish-language radio station, but you wouldn’t know that by the way Sheriff Joe and his posse treat people.”
-a U.S. citizen who was unlawfully detained by officers of Sheriff Arpaio
Arpaio calls himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” but not only are his practices of racial profiling discriminatory, they are downright ineffective. As a result of his obsessive focus on the Latino population, his county has more than 40,000 outstanding felony warrants, and 911 response times have worsened, making his county a less safe place for all people.4
This is bad law enforcement and an attack on an entire ethnic community. Click here to join the call for a Justice Department investigation of Sheriff Arpaio’s tactics.
While we continue to work for humane immigration reform legislation that addresses the root causes of our broken system, we must also ensure legal oversight of current enforcement practices so Sheriff Arpaio and others like him know their abuses will not be tolerated.
In solidarity with the persecuted and downtrodden,
Allison, Nate, Ryan, Elizabeth and the rest of the Sojourners team
1) “No to Joe Show.” The Arizona Republic. (4/1/2008), and “Mother Arrested in Front of Children.” 12 News, available from http://www.azcentral.com (2/5/2009)
2) “Immigration, Outsourced.” The New York Times. (4/9/2008)
3) “Letter from Mayor to Attorney General Requesting Civil Rights Investigation of Maricopa County Sheriff.” (4/4/2008) Available from http://www.aclu.org/images/asset_upload_file202_35981.pdf.
4) Bolick, Clint. “Mission Unaccomplished: The Misplaced Priorities of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.” Policy report of The Goldwater Institute. (12/2/2008)