This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is to go on trial in Arizona on Thursday over a class-action lawsuit alleging that he and his department have discriminated against Hispanics regardless of whether they are legal citizens. The trial is likely to be the first of many civil-rights lawsuits against officers treading the fine line between enforcing Arizona's immigration law and respecting the constitutional rights of the state's citizens.

The class-action case, filed jointly by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, is not seeking damages but is asking Arpaio and the department to set stronger safeguards against discrimination. Arpaio has denied all allegations of discrimination.

In June, the Supreme Court upheld most of the Obama administration's assertions that Arizona's immigration law, known as S.B. 1070, was preempted by federal authority to enforce immigration. The single provision that survived — the requirement for officers to check the immigration status during traffic stops if there is "reasonable suspicion" — is expected to eventually be tested in the civil-rights courts.

The Justice Department has its own civil lawsuit against Arpaio that is pending trial, which it filed in May. But first, Arpaio must survive this trial. The journey of immigration enforcement in Arizona is a long one, especially since the state has an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants.

Arpaio, the county's sheriff since 1993, has an entangled history with immigration enforcement. We've put together a short timeline of events that have led to the trial.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio looks at the flags hanging on the International border wall Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010 in Hereford, Ariz. at a United Border Coalition Tea Party Rally. Conservative tea party activists gathered along a remote stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border about 70 miles (113 kilometers) west of Nogales.(AP Photo/Matt York) (National Journal)
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio swears in 56 new members of his Illegal Immigration Posse Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010 in Phoenix. Sheriff Joe has sworn in nearly 3,000 posse members since becoming sheriff in 1993. (AP Photo/Matt York) (National Journal)
Protesters Sergio Juarez, right, and Rafael Guerrero, both of Phoenix, wait to get into a Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meeting, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011, in Phoenix. Roughly 100 opponents of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio turned out at the meeting to urge the officials to call for Arpaio's resignation amid reports of botched sex-crime investigations and other problems in his department.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (National Journal)
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio signs autographs for inmates as he walks through a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office jail called "Tent City" in Phoenix on Saturday, June 23, 2012. Critics of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio gathered outside the facility Saturday for a rally to call for the closure of the complex of canvas jail tents. (AP Photo/Matt York) (National Journal)
**FILE - In this Friday, April 23, 2010 file photo, with law enforcement supporters behind her, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signs immigration bill SB1070 into law in Phoenix. Gov. Jan Brewer faces a Friday deadline for filing responses to two lawsuits that seek to overturn Arizona's new immigration law. Brewer was sued in four of the five legal challenges that have been filed to the law since she approved it in April.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File) (National Journal)
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office 92 immigration jail officers, who lost their federal power to check whether inmates are in the county illegally, turn in their credentials after federal officials pulled the Sheriff's office immigration enforcement powers Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011, in Phoenix. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security stripped Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jail officers of their federal powers after federal authorities accused the sheriff's office last week of a wide range of civil rights violations. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (National Journal)
A defiant Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, pounds his fist on the podium as he answers questions regarding the Department of Justice announcing a federal civil lawsuit against Sheriff Arpaio and his department, during a news conference Thursday, May 10, 2012, in Phoenix. According to the Department of Justice, after months of negotiations failed to yield an agreement to settle allegations that the sheriff's department racially profiled Latinos in his trademark immigration patrols, the lawsuit was filed.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (National Journal)
United States Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, middle, who heads up the civil rights division at the Department of Justice, is joined by Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Roy Austin, right, and Sergio Perez, attorney for the Civil Right Division at the Department of Justice, as Perez announces a federal civil lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, his office, and the county, at a news conference Thursday, May 10, 2012, in Phoenix. After months of negotiations failed to yield an agreement to settle allegations that his department racially profiled Latinos in his trademark immigration patrols. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (National Journal)
Laurent Taillefer, right, and Andrea Begay, second from right, both of Phoenix, wave at cars as they honk their horns driving by as the two join immigration rights protesters as they gather after the United States Supreme Court decision regarding Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB1070, at the local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices Monday, June 25, 2012, in Phoenix. The Supreme Court struck down key provisions of Arizona's crackdown on immigrants Monday but said a much-debated portion on checking suspects' status could go forward. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (National Journal)

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.