24 May 2013. Arizona United States District Court Judge G. Murray Snow issued a 142-page ruling (attached) denouncing the anti-illegal-immigration practices of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The federal government (ICE) gave the Maricopa County Sheriff Office (MCSO) the authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1357(g) to enforce federal immigration law. The Sheriff took the job way too seriously. He rounded up Mexicans, often in lengthy traffic stops, jailed the illegal immigrants even though they had committed no crime, reported the jailings to ICE, then kept the Mexicans locked up till ICE told him what to do with them. ICE removed his authority for that stunt, but he kept on doing it.
Arpaio claimed he did it because Arizona law prohibits human smuggling, and that gave Arpaio the power to stop Mexican-looking people in traffic or public parking and demand their documents. The judge pointed out that illegal aliens don’t commit a federal crime by merely existing in the USA without authorization (illegally), so Arpaio had no reason to lock them up. So the class of all people so stopped and detained had the right to sue. In the lawsuit they asked the court to answer these questions:
- whether, and to what extent, the Fourth Amendment permits the MCSO to question, investigate, and/or detain Latino occupants of motor vehicles it suspects of being in the country without authorization when it has no basis to bring state charges against such persons;
- whether the MCSO uses race as a factor, and, if so, to what extent it is permissible under the Fourth Amendment to use race as a factor in forming either reasonable suspicion or probable cause to detain a person for being present without authorization;
- whether the MCSO uses race as a factor, and if so, to what extent it is permissible under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to use race as a factor in making law enforcement decisions that affect Latino occupants of motor vehicles in Maricopa County;
- whether the MCSO prolongs traffic stops to investigate the status of vehicle occupants beyond the time permitted by the Fourth Amendment; and
- whether being in this country without authorization provides sufficient reasonable suspicion or probable cause under the Fourth Amendment that a person is violating or conspiring to violate Arizona law related to immigration status.
The court found that Arpaio’s minions intentionally targeted Mexicans and exceeded lawful authority in detaining them. Starting at page 107, the court enjoined them to stop targeting Mexicans and stop enforcing federal immigration law. It reiterated a prior 9th Circuit ruling that law enforcers may NOT detain persons on the mere suspicion they are in the country without authorization (illegal entry is a crime, but illegal presence is not). Questions:
- What do YOU think of this ruling and the associated law?
- If someone exists IN the USA without authorization, does that not mean the person entered illegally – can you imagine anyone unwillingly entering the USA?
- What law could fairly and dramatically reduce the number of illegal aliens in the land?