A class action lawsuit in federal court in Phoenix against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio begins Thursday in a case that will test whether this sheriff can target the undocumented in immigration “sweeps” without racially profiling Latino citizens, reports Reuters.
The plaintiffs say Arpaio’s officers based some traffic stops on the race of Hispanics who were in vehicles, had no probable cause to pull them over and made the stops so they could inquire about their immigration status. For six years, the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America has vehemently denied allegations that his deputies racially profile Latinos in his trademark immigration patrols, reports The Associated Press.
One of the most notable cases is a Mexican tourist, Manuel Ortega Melendres, who was a passenger in a car pulled over by deputies of hard-line Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio during a sweep for undocumented immigrants, ostensibly because the vehicle’s driver was speeding. Melendres was arrested, despite having a valid visa and producing identification, while the vehicle’s white driver was neither cited nor taken into custody.