Here, for example, from paragraph 4 of the complaint, is how the feds describe the extent of official prejudice in Maricopa County:
Defendants' violations of the Constitution and laws of the United States are
the product of a culture of disregard in MCSO for Latinos that starts at the
top and pervades the organization. MCSO jail employees frequently refer to Latinos
as "wetbacks," "Mexican bitches," and "stupid Mexicans." MCSO supervisors
involved in immigration enforcement have expressed anti-Latino bias, in one
instance widely distributing an email that included a photograph of a Chihuahua
dog dressed in swimming gear with the caption "A Rare Photo of a Mexican Navy
Seal." MCSO and Arpaio's words and actions set the tone and create a culture of
bias that contributes to unlawful actions.
I understand that the (alleged) bad acts of one sheriff in one county shouldn't be held against the rest of Arizona's law enforcement officials. I acknowledge that Maricopa County is the outlier here. Leaving aside the civil rights problem for the moment, during Arpaio's recent reign, the county has spent about $6 million (and counting) in legal fees to defend itself against a stream of allegations of fiscal misconduct. There are, by last count, $177 million in claims filed against it.
But what does SB 1070 do? It gives Sheriff Arpaio, and every other local lawman, more legal authority and the discretion to aggressively pursue Latinos they suspect may be here illegally. Why would anyone believe that Arizona today spends the time and money it needs to educate its local law enforcement officials about how to constitutionally treat the Latino suspects in its custody? The justices in Washington should hold no illusions: SB 1070 sends a message of succor to officials like Sheriff Arpaio.
"Attrition Through Enforcement" is Governor Jan Brewer's official battle cry. The idea is that by harassing resident Latinos the state will force its illegal immigrants to return to Mexico. In truth, however, the state's slogan ought to be: "We Are So Concerned With Illegal Immigration That We Are Blowing Off Enforcement of Violent Crime." Because that's the gravamen of the federal complaint. Here are paragraphs 83-86 of the complaint against Arpaio and company:
MCSO has focused its most intensive law enforcement efforts on low-level
immigration offenses over more serious crime from approximately 2006 to the
present. MCSO's prioritization of immigration enforcement has resulted in a
failure to meet its other law enforcement responsibilities, and provides
further evidence of the Defendants' intent to discriminate against Latinos.84.
Statistical reports show an increase in violent crime in Maricopa County, and
of homicides in particular, during the period of enhanced immigration
MCSO has failed, for example, to adequately respond to reports of sexual
violence, including allegations of rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse of
girls, thus exposing women and girls, who constitute the majority of victims of
crimes of sexual violence in Maricopa County, to a disproportionate risk of
physical and psychological harm.
Faced with such an increase in crime and the risk of harm presented by
unaddressed sexual assaults, a law enforcement agency ordinarily would be
expected to prioritize more serious offenses, such as crimes of sexual
violence, over less serious offenses, such as low-level immigration offenses.
It doesn't get more basic than that, does it? The federal government has just accused Maricopa County of abdicating the most basic function of law enforcement -- protecting people from violent crime. To what extent would the national debate over immigration change if Americans, and women in particular, were to learn about the ramifications of this allegation: did you know that these cops hate illegal immigrants more than they love protecting you from "rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse of girls?"