Bit by bit, the federal judiciary is tearing out the legal ground from under “America’s toughest sheriff.
First, a federal appeals court said it was illegal to deny bail to immigrants in the country illegally. Then, on Monday, an Arizona federal judge blasted a state law that stretched the crime of identity theft to include everyone from forgers to people simply seeking employment without valid documentation.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was using that law to justify workplace raids, more than 80 since the Arizona Legislature passed the law in 2008. Those raids rolled up nearly 800 men and women, charged with felonies for seeking employment while they were in the country illegally. It was unclear how many of them were convicted or deported.
But federal law explicitly says seeking employment is not a crime, no matter a person’s immigration status. A group of immigration rights organizations sued Arizona, the county and Arpaio.
On Monday, the plaintiffs prevailed, at least for now.
Number of immigrants deported from U.S. dropped sharply in the last year.
U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell in Phoenix ordered an immediate halt to the state’s enforcement of identity theft laws that penalize immigrants in the country illegally for seeking employment. Campbell said the Arizona law is at odds with corresponding federal statutes.
“These laws were one piece of a tool kit that Sheriff Arpaio used to terrorize immigrant communities,” said plaintiff’s attorney Jessica Karp, “and that tool kit is being taken apart.”
By Nigel Duara – Los Angeles Times –