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Maricopa County Sheriff Denies Profiling, Blames Co-Author for Anti-Immigrant Statements

Posted Jul 25, 2012 7:22 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., testified in a class action suit on Tuesday that his department doesn’t arrest people “because of the color of their skin.”

Arpaio testified in a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of all Latinos arrested by the sheriff’s department since 2007, report Bloomberg News, the Arizona Republic and the New York Times. “I am against racial profiling today, as in my 50 years in law enforcement,” testified Arpaio, who is 80 years old.

ACLU lawyer Stanley Young of Covington & Burling confronted Arpaio with past statements on television and his autobiography in an attempt to show bias. Asked about a TV interview in which Arpaio said it was an honor to be compared to the Ku Klux Klan because it means “you’re doing something,” the sheriff said he had “no use for the KKK.” Asked about an autobiography in which he said Mexican immigrants don’t assimilate, Arpaio said the words came from his co-author. Asked about press releases touting immigration enforcement targeting day laborers, Arpaio said the media relations unit drafted them.

Says the Arizona Republic, "As testimony Tuesday in U.S. District Court revealed, there are two Joe Arpaios—the politician and the policy maker—and there are questions as to which Arpaio is responsible for setting priorities for illegal-immigration enforcement."

The suit’s allegations are similar to those raised in a suit filed in May by the U.S. Justice Department.

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