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Judge threatens sheriff in immigration discrimination case

There is one county out west that has drawn attention to itself by way of an outspoken sheriff who announced years ago that his department would take action against those individuals believed to be living in his county without the required documentation. That law enforcement official is currently in the midst of a class action civil rights case that alleges that the sheriff and his department engaged in immigration discrimination. Even though this case is not being heard in North Carolina, when settled, it could have an impact on the way law enforcement is carried out throughout the country.

The federal judge in this long-running case recently threatened the sheriff with contempt of court charges over allegations that he has not conveyed orders to his fellow officers concerning the halting of discrimination tactics, and that the department has attempted to conceal evidence. These orders followed a settlement that was reached in the initial case in 2007. To back up his threats against the sheriff, the judge detailed several incidences that purportedly support his allegations.

The first was an arrest that occurred several months after the order to suspend discriminatory traffic stops. The judge also cited the man's own statements that he would continue to arrest those whom he believed to be in his county unlawfully. The federal judge went on to recommend that the man keep his defense attorney and that three other officials find suitable representatives as well.

On his behalf, the sheriff's attorney pointed out that he freely shared information, and that he turned over evidence which could possibly negate accusations of contempt of court. Counsel for the civil rights group has countered with claims that the sheriff and fellow deputies are continuing to engage in immigration discrimination regardless of the orders to desist. While waiting to see if the final outcome will translate into a general change in policy regarding the civil rights of Latino immigrants, residents in North Carolina are ensured of the right to refer to knowledgeable resources to secure their own protection when their civil rights have been compromised.

Source:, "Judge fed up with Arpaio defiance", Sean Holstege, Dec. 4, 2014

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