America's toughest sheriff is living up to his nickname in a battle against the Department of Justice over its report accusing the Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff's Department of a pattern of civil rights violations involving Latinos.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio
says he intends to fight allegations in the 22-page Justice Department report that claims his department has violated the civil rights of Latinos in enforcing immigration laws in Arizona, reports World Net Daily (WND).
President Barack Obama "has just put a welcome sign on the United States border with Mexico," Arpaio told WND, referring to the president's comment in September during an inteview with a group of Latino reporter that the sheriff and his department should not be viewed as a model for other law enforcement departments in how to enforce federal immigration laws.
Obama further told the journalists that the country has 50 states with 50 different immigration laws.
The DOJ report concludes that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department under Arpaio's watch has engaged in the racial profiling of Latinos, made unlawful stops, and detained suspects in violation of federal civil rights laws.
The group Citizens for a Better Arizona is urging the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution calling for Arpaio to step down.
That same group spearheaded to recall effort against now former Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce, who was part of the Legislature that crafted the state's new immigration law, which has been tied up in the courts.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court said that it will review the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco that mostly shut down the new law.
Arpaio says that, although he is willing to engage in talks with federal officials over the report, he will not let them keep tabs on his office, according to a report in the Arizona Republic.
The sheriff describes incidents of racial profiling and discrimination outlined in the report as being "a couple of bumps," reports the Republic.
"We had some isolated incidents and they make it look like it's systemic. We thought we had this thing resolved. We gave them more files. Then we wake up in the morning and they do a press conference," Arpaio said.
He said he will cooperate with the Justice Department, although adding, "One thing I am not going to agree to is to be controlled by some federal monitor or something. I'm the elected sheriff here and I report to the 4 million voters here in the county."
In a letter to Maricopa County, Justice Department officials have given Arpaio until Jan. 4 to decide whether to cooperate in reforming his department. The letter also gave Arpaio 60 days for an agreement on a reform plan.
The deadlines riled Arpaio, who pointed out that the DOJ took three years to look at his department and then came out with a 22-page report, but is giving him just a short amount of time to respond.
The Justice Department says that, if Arpaio does not comply, it will seek a court order to force reform and could revoke hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding, according to the Republic.
On the same day the report came out, the county received a letter from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton that said Morton had terminated the sheriff's participation in a federal immigration program.
ICE is withdrawing immigration detainees from jails in Maricopa County, will not respond to sheriff's department traffic stops and other minor arrests that involve immigrants, and has cut off the department's access to federal technology which is used to verify immigration status.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Mongomery said Friday those actions have "an immediate and harmful effect on carrying out my duties."
Montgomery says the moves also would be a threat to public safety.
"Im asking the president to direct the Department of Homeland Security to reinstate this program now," Montgomery said.
ICE will continue to be informed of immigrant arrests but will make its own determination who it will detain and where, based on its own law enforcement priorities, the Republic reports.
The DOJ report came out just one day after the first anniversary of the death of Border Patrol officer Brian Terry in Arizona.
The shootout that resulted in his death involved weapons thath had gone astray from the Justice Department's controversial Fast and Furious gunwalking program.
The program was designed to trace weapons over the United States border to drug cartels in Mexico.
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