(Refiles to fix dateline, byline)
WASHINGTON, Dec 23(Reuters) - By Alex Dobuzinskis
Dec 23 (Reuters) - A federal judge on Friday barred Arizona
Sheriff Joe Arpaio from detaining people simply for being in the
country illegally, in a ruling that faulted the local lawman for
enforcing federal immigration law.
The opinion by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow came on
the same day he issued legal sanctions against Arpaio over
The sheriff already has faced rebukes from federal agencies
over his controversial efforts to crack down on illegal
Both rulings by Snow stemmed from a 2007 civil lawsuit
against Arpaio and his agency, which accuses his officers of
racial profiling of Latinos in traffic stops the judge found
were conducted as immigration sweeps.
The judge also said officers with the Maricopa County
Sheriff's Department, which covers Phoenix and surrounding
areas, circulated emails that "compared Mexicans to dogs" and
portrayed them "as drunks."
"Local law enforcement agencies ... may not enforce civil
federal immigration law," Snow said in his written opinion.
He added that the sheriff's agency could not detain "any
person based only on knowledge or reasonable belief, without
more, that the person is unlawfully present within the United
In his ruling, Snow also granted a request by plaintiffs to
certify the lawsuit as a class action.
Last week, the U.S. Justice Department accused Arpaio and
his deputies of engaging in a "pervasive culture of
discriminatory bias" and violating civil rights laws by singling
out Latinos for unlawful detention and arrests. The same day,
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security barred Arpaio's
deputies from screening jail inmates for their immigration
Arpaio's actions on illegal immigration in Maricopa County
have earned him accolades in conservative political circles.
(Editing by Steve Gorman and Jerry Norton)
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