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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

MORA V. ARPAIO: ACLU SUES SHERIFF JOE!

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Here's the press release from the defenders of liberty:

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona filed a
lawsuit today challenging the illegal arrest and detention of a U.S. citizen and
a legal resident by Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) deputies. The two
men were driving down a public roadway when they were stopped and arrested
without justification, and transported to the site of an immigration raid.

"Our clients suffered egregious constitutional violations and were terrified
when held against their will for three hours by armed MCSO personnel," said Dan
Pochoda, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona and lead counsel on the case.
"Sheriff Joe Arpaio's deputies had absolutely no reason to stop these two men
and drag them off to a worksite raid. This is yet another example of MCSO
sacrificing the rights and well being of workers in the name of immigration
enforcement."

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on
behalf of Julian Mora, a legal permanent resident who has lived in the U.S. for
30 years, and his son Julio Mora, a U.S. citizen, against Maricopa County
Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Maricopa County. The lawsuit charges that the MCSO
deputies racially profiled the father and son as they drove their pickup truck
on a busy public road and illegally arrested and detained them, violating the
U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law and prohibition
on unreasonable seizures.

Julian Mora was driving to work when, without provocation, an MCSO vehicle
cut in front of him forcing him to stop abruptly. MCSO deputies then ordered the
father and son out of their vehicle, then frisked and handcuffed them. Although
the deputies had no reason to believe that the Moras had broken any law or were
in the country unlawfully, they transported the Moras to Handyman Maintenance,
Inc. (HMI), where MCSO was conducting a raid that morning. For the next three
hours, the Moras were held at HMI, where they were denied food and water and
forbidden contact with the outside world. They were not released until they were
interrogated.

The ordeal was particularly humiliating for 66-year-old Julian Mora who, due
to his diabetic condition, has difficulty controlling his bladder and had an
urgent need to use the bathroom. MCSO personnel, however, rejected his repeated
requests. Eventually, deputies escorted him outside where he was made to urinate
in the parking lot. MCSO personnel later mocked his son Julio when he had to use
the bathroom, because he had difficulty going with his hands still cuffed.

"To this day, I don't know why the officers stopped us out of all the cars on
the road," said 19-year-old Julio Mora. "We were treated like criminals and
never told why. I was very scared. I never thought something like this would
happen to me. Now I know it can happen to anyone, citizens too. I don't think
it's fair."

Arizona's draconian employer sanctions law and the federal 287(g) program
have enabled MCSO personnel to question and arrest workers for alleged
violations of federal immigration law. As a result, MCSO has aggressively
stepped up local immigration enforcement efforts and conducted raids at
worksites across the county with predominantly Latino employees. The raids have
not resulted in the conviction of any employer for an employer sanctions
violation.

"Local sheriff and police forces simply should not be in the business of
enforcing immigration laws. Where state or local officers try to determine who
is in the U.S. without permission, we see a pattern of conduct where law-abiding
people cannot go about their business without government interference," said
Cecillia Wang, a managing attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project.
"Instead of violating our basic American rights by seizing people without any
reason and singling them out for 'looking foreign,' MCSO should focus on
dangerous crimes and maintaining a safe environment for everyone in Maricopa
County."

Annie Lai, an ACLU of Arizona staff attorney, said "Arpaio's worksite raids -
such as the raids last year on Artistic Land Management in Mesa, Gold Canyon
Candle Company in Chandler, last week's raid on Royal Paper Converting and this
raid on HMI - are frequently conducted in total disregard for people's
constitutional rights and have resulted in the arbitrary detention of many
law-abiding citizens and legal residents."

Lawyers on the case, Mora, et al. v. Arpaio, et al., include Wang and Harini
Raghupathi of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project and Pochoda and Lai of the
ACLU of Arizona. 

The complaint is online at: www.aclu.org/immigrants/workplace/40773lgl20090819.html












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Comments

  1. Another voice's Avatar
    Greg a side from some economic recovery to the Plaintiffs what other remedies or influence in policy through the courts can this case have in Arpio's conduct or operation of his department?
  2. Greg's Avatar
    Well, I'm not a litigator, but judges can often craft interesting orders to prevent a defendant from committing the same conduct again and again.
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