DHS and DOJ Do Right by Maricopa County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, December 15, 2011

George Tzamaras or Jenny Werwa
202-507-7649 / 202-507-7628
gtzamaras@aila.org / jwerwa@aila.org

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) applauds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for its response to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) findings of discriminatory policing practices within the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) in Arizona.

The DOJ today released the results of its three-year investigation into civil rights complaints against Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Findings indicate that Sheriff Arpaio’s office has “a pervasive culture of discriminatory bias against Latinos” that “reaches the highest levels of the agency,” also accusing the office of engaging in “unconstitutional policing.”

In response, DHS immediately announced the termination of its section 287(g) agreement for MCSO involvement in immigration enforcement and the restriction of MCSO’s access to the Secure Communities program.

“The immediate response by DHS is consistent with the agency’s recent moves toward smart law enforcement,” said AILA President Eleanor Pelta. “Recent revelations indicate that the sheriff’s office has been ignoring serious sex crimes to instead concentrate on harassing the Latino population in search of undocumented immigrants. This is an atrocious abuse of power that erodes public trust in law enforcement. Removing MCSO’s authority to enforce federal immigration laws promotes wise law enforcement, and discourages unconstitutional and unconscionable police conduct.

“The careful investigation by DOJ and DHS’ appropriate reaction is an example of government at its best,” continued Pelta. “Kudos to both departments for standing up for what is right.”


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 11121509.