Are Joe Arpaio's Alleged Discriminations Against Spanish Speakers Civil-Rights Violations?

Yesterday, we told you about the response from Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's lawyers to the Justice Department's lawsuit alleging racial discrimination.

Points made by Arpaio's laywers in an attempt to throw out a couple of the claims in the lawsuit contend discrimination against people who speak a certain language doesn't equate to civil-rights violations.

"Plaintiff cannot maintain these claims because Title VI [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964] does not prohibit disparate treatment based on language proficiency," Arpaio's lawyers from the Phoenix-based Jones, Skelton & Hochuli law firm wrote.

Those attorneys note what the exact language of the Civil Rights Act says from the section in question: "No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

The lawsuit
adds, though, that the discrimination was against the "limited English proficient" Latinos, but on the basis of "race, color, or national origin" -- not because they didn't speak English well.

The Justice Department alleges 21 instances in which the MCSO's handling of the language barrier violates laws, not just from the Civil Rights Act.

One of those instances included MCSO detention officers' pressuring Latino, limited-English- proficient inmates to sign "voluntary return" forms without the inmates understanding what they said.

"Once signed, these forms oblige foreign nationals to give up any right to have an immigration hearing, challenge their removal from the United States, speak with an attorney, or otherwise seek a determination permitting them to stay in the United States," the lawsuit states. "Latino LEP prisoners have been compelled by MCSO detention officers to sign this form even when they have pending proceedings that may authorize their continued stay in the United States."

This morning's question: Does the discrimination against Spanish speakers sound like civil rights violations to you?

Cast your vote below: