Feds Threaten to Sue Sheriff Arpaio

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


The Justice Department is threatening to sue the infamous Joe Arpaio—the Arizona sheriff who’s vowed to persecute any illegal immigrants who’ve crossed his path—for failing to cooperate with federal investigators. As the Washington Post explains, the feds want to determine whether Arpaio is responsible for “discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures,” and discriminating against Hispanic inmates in jail.

A complaint to the Justice Department said that even bilingual jail guards are required to speak to inmates only in English and that the rule could endanger prisoners’ medical care. The jail was also accused of forcing Hispanic visitors to fill out a “citizenship check” form, the letters said.

Lawyers in the division have repeatedly interviewed Phoenix area human rights leaders about Arpaio’s immigration sweeps, and local “cop watch” groups have turned over hours of video footage of the sweeps to investigators.

Anyone who’s followed Arpaio in recent years knows that the federal investigation, which launched in 2009, is just the tip of the iceberg: He’s been the target of hundreds of lawsuits, and a federal grand jury is currently deciding whether “America’s toughest sheriff” used his position to intimidate political opponents and misappropriate government money.

In a recent MoJo story, Aura Bogado explained how Arpaio began his anti-immigration crusade well before Arizona lawmakers were thinking of passing this year’s controversial law. Arpaio has frequently boasted about his freedom to do as he pleases without worrying about what federal authorities might say. When the Department of Homeland Security rescinded Arpaio’s authority to arrest suspected immigrations under part of existing federal law, he warned that he’d “still enforce the federal laws without the oversight, the policy, the restrictions that they put on us.” But the Justice Department’s latest challenge is a sign that authorities may finally launch a real clampdown on Arpaio’s renegade border experiment.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate