A federal judge has ruled that an Arizona sheriff’s office did systematically target Latinos during its trademark immigration patrols.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio plans to appeal the Friday ruling that his agency racially profiled people.
Over the past few years, allegations have been made against Arpaio’s officers that they violated the contitutional rights of Latinos by relying on their race during immigration patrols.
The ruling of U.S. District Judge Murray Snow in Pheonix comes more then eight months after a seven-day, non-jury trial ruled that Arpaio’s deputies had unreasonably prolonged the detention of people who had been pulled over.
"For too long the sheriff has been victimizing the people he's meant to serve with his discriminatory policy," director of the ACLU Immigrants' Right Project Cecillia D. Wang said. "Today we're seeing justice for everyone in the county."
The lawsuit brought against the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office by a small group of Latinos alleged that deputies pulled over vehicles in order to make immigration status checks. They claimed the sheriff ordered these immigation patrols not based on the report of a crime but on the basis of emails and letters from Arizona citizens who complained to the office about people with dark skin congregating or speaking Spanish.
The group asked the judge to issue injunctions that would bar discriminatory practices. Instead of money damages, the suit declares the office engages in racial profiling and forces it to make policy changes. Judge Snow ruled that more changes to the office’s policy could be ordered in the future.
Arpaio will not face any jail time due to the ruling.
Arpaio has repeatedly denied the allegations and his attorney, Tim Casey, said the sheriff will file an appeal within the next 30 days.
Casey said the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office "never used race and will never use race in its law-enforcement decisions." He said the officers only relied upon “bad training” it received from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
"The decision here really affects some poor training from ICE and unfortunately we relied on ICE, acted on ICE, and now it turns out ICE was incorrect," he told MyFoxPhoenix.com.