Appeals Court Says No to Arizona’s Immigration Stops

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio

A federal appeals court upheld an injunction barring Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio from suspected racial profiling of Latinos during traffic stops seeking illegal aliens.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, late Tuesday, issued an opinion keeping in place a Dec. 23, 2011 injunction prohibiting Arpaio and his deputies from detaining anyone “based only on knowledge or reasonable believe, without more, that the person is unlawfully in the United States.”

The order keeps in place the preliminary injunction but does not make it permanent.  Judge Clifford Wallace pointed out the trial on the permanent injunction was only recently completed and the final order is due any time.

“We applaud how the district court has expedited this sensitive case and moved with appropriate speed towards a final disposition,” he wrote.  Instead, the panel exercised “very limited review” and upheld the preliminary order.

Arpaio has said he authorized crime fighting sweeps to enforce Arizona’s human-smuggling law.

The lawsuit was brought in 2007 by five Latinos who claimed Arpaio and the Sheriff’s Office they were targeted for racially motivated stops for minor traffic  violations so officers could check their immigration status.

The traffic stops were part of “crime suppression sweeps,” also called “saturation patrols” allegedly targeted Latinos as part of an immigration enforcement plan.

The suit argued the stops violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Judges Susan Graber and Marsha Berzon joined Clifford in the opinion.

If there is another appeal, following a final decision on a permanent injunction, the case will come back to the same three judges.

Case: Ortega-Melendres v. Arpaio, No. 12-15098



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