25 May 2013

Federal judge finds Hispanics targetted for police checks

1:49 pm on 25 May 2013

A federal judge in the United States has found the office of an Arizona sheriff improperly targeted Hispanics in routine patrols for undocumented immigrants.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was sued by a group of Hispanic drivers who said his deputies relied on race when choosing whom to stop.

Judge Murray Snow ruled the deputies may not factor in Hispanic ancestry when making law-enforcement decisions.

Judge Snow also found the deputies relied on pretexts to pull over vehicles in which they suspected the passengers to be illegal immigrants.

Sheriff Arpaio denied the accusations.

The ruling was handed down on Friday, eight months after a trial that lasted seven days.

Lawyers for Sheriff Arpaio and the county sheriff's office are yet to comment.

The BBC reports Arizona is a hotbed of anti-illegal immigrant politics.

"Singling people out for traffic stops and detentions simply because they're Latino is illegal and just plain un-American,'' said American Civil Liberties Union immigrants' rights director Cecillia Wang.

"This is an important victory that will resound far beyond Maricopa County."

The BBC reports Sheriff Arpaio's office has also been sued by the Department of Justice, which accused his office of multiple civil liberties violations, including punishing Hispanic jail inmates for speaking Spanish.