The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona and other immigrant-rights groups that are suing over Sheriff Joe Arpaio's workplace raids want a judge to put an end to such raids immediately.
The ACLU and others filed a lawsuit in June alleging that a pair of state laws used by Maricopa County officials to arrest and prosecute undocumented workers are preempted by federal law, and violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution. They're asking a judge to halt the practice by county officials pending the outcome of the case.
"We think it's a strong argument," ACLU of Arizona legal director Dan Pochoda tells New Times.
The laws, passed in 2007 and 2008, made it a crime to use a false or fictitious identity to gain employment. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has used these laws to stage workplace raids, resulting in the arrests of people like cooks, dishwashers, and cleaning ladies. Nearly 800 such arrests have been made by MCSO, and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office has prosecuted such cases.
Pochoda says federal law regarding the employment of undocumented immigrants is "quite comprehensive," leading to his side's belief that these actions are preempted by federal law.
The ACLU, Puente, the National Day Labor Organizing Network, and others also allege in the lawsuit that the laws were intended to be discriminatory.
Statements at the Arizona Legislature made by Republican then-Representative Russell Pearce -- best known for being recalled from office as the Senate President -- and others are being used against those lawmakers, as they described the need for great penalties to combat undocumented immigrant workers.
Since the passage of the laws, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and Maricopa County Attorney's Office have taken advantage, with MCSO often publicizing its raids at restaurants or offices.smuggling themselves into the country
In a statement, Puente member Noemi Romero said:
"The only reason I don't have a DACA work permit now is because I was arrested in a raid while working to pay for my application. I was kept in Arpaio's jail for three months, away from my family, without knowing what would happen to me. I don't think anyone else should have to go through what I went through because of Arpaio and [County Attorney Bill] Montgomery."
In separate court cases, Arpaio's role as wannabe immigration enforcer has been greatly reduced. In one case, the county has been banned from enforcing its policy of prosecuting people for smuggling themselves into the country. Separately, the federal judge's order in the Melendres v. Arpaio civil-rights case outlines a ban on MCSO racially profiling Latinos, among dozens of other provisions.
In this lawsuit on the employment laws, the immigrant-rights groups are ultimately requesting a permanent injunction to prevent the county from enforcing those laws against undocumented workers, but also want the temporary injunction now while the case is open.
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