An Arizona sheriff who led the way for local police across the country to take up immigration enforcement is reconsidering his crackdowns — and other law enforcement officials who followed his lead are expected to eventually back away, too.
Joe Arpaio, the sheriff for metropolitan Phoenix, has temporarily suspended all his immigration efforts after a federal judge concluded two weeks ago that the sheriff’s office had racially profiled Latinos in its patrols, Arpaio spokesman Brandon Jones told The Associated Press.
Arpaio critics, including the federal government, are gaining ground in their fight to get the sheriff out of immigration enforcement. Even before the ruling, Washington had stripped Arpaio’s office of its special federal immigration arrest powers and started to phase out the program across the country amid complaints that it led to abuses by local officers. The Arpaio ruling is expected to impact state immigration laws in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, where local officers question people’s immigration status in certain instances.
The national mood on immigration also has changed dramatically. Fewer states are seeking their own immigration laws, and proponents for Congress to overhaul the nation’s immigration system have public opinion on their side.
Peter Spiro, a Temple University law professor who specializes in immigration law, said the May 24 ruling marks a big blow for Arpaio and the movement for more local immigration enforcement. “It’s a cautionary tale for any other would-be Joe Arpaios out there,” Spiro said. “This is an example that others can hardly afford to ignore.”