Arpaio To End Controversial Worksite Raids

By Jude Joffe-Block
December 18, 2014
Maricopa County Sheriff's Officers raid the On Your Way Car Wash in Peoria, Ariz. in October 2009. (Photo courtesy

Sheriff Joe Arpaio has told a federal judge he will disband a controversial unit that conducted worksite raids. Those operations resulted in the arrests of hundreds of unauthorized immigrants.

Arpaio gained national prominence for his crackdowns on illegal immigration. But in recent years, federal courts have stymied those efforts, by striking down several state immigration-related laws and ordering Arpaio to stop some tactics.

Worksite raids were one of his last remaining tools in this area.

The sheriff’s office used state identity theft laws to arrest unauthorized immigrants who used fake IDs to get jobs. The immigrant rights group Puente challenged the practice in federal court.

Now Arpaio says he will get rid of the unit that conducted these raids early next year.

Puente leader Carlos Garcia says Arpaio’s promise isn’t enough.

"For us it is really hard to trust Sheriff Arpaio," Garcia said. "Sheriff Arpaio has before lied to a federal judge and for the last six years terrorized our community with these raids."

Garcia said the suit will continue.

Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre said the sheriff’s office will still enforce state ID theft laws, but will refer immigrant employment-related cases to federal law enforcement.

He said federal courts have made clear immigration enforcement is the federal domain.

"I hope they enforce it more than they have in the past. But obviously we have been asked to stand aside and not be involved in assisting them with enforcing the laws that are still on the books," MacIntyre said.

Last year a federal judge in a different case ruled Arpaio’s office racially profiled Latino drivers, and ordered an end to some immigration-related enforcement tactics. The judge in that case is considering holding Arpaio and other leaders in contempt for failing to follow his order.