Critics of controversial sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is known for a hard line stance against illegal immigration, say the legal pressures against him have caused him to suspend his immigrations patrols. The patrols are what are at the center of two lawsuits that accuse the Arpaio office of discrimination against Hispanics; accusations he says are not true.
The Maricopa County sheriff has endured months of not being able to use his controversial tactic of rounding up illegal immigrants, but he says those who oppose him have it all wrong. He said he is not backing off.
During his patrols, up to 200 deputies and a volunteer posse would flood a predetermined area and make dozens of arrests and traffic stops. The designated areas were often times in areas that have large populations of Hispanics. Since 2008, Arpaio has launched over 20 sweeps that produced 1,500 arrests. Over 60% of all those arrested were undocumented Hispanic immigrants.
The last patrol took place nearly eight months ago making it the longest time between patrols in over four years. The sheriff said that long breaks between sweeps were not unusual. He said he continues to crackdown on illegal immigrants and is not backing down just because he has been taken to court.
The ACLU, one of his harshest critics, said Arpaio has backed down from the patrols since they make it harder for him to defend himself in the pending lawsuits that allege that his deputies use racial profiling during their immigration efforts.
Arpaio has decided to fight both lawsuits pending against him and denies all charges, saying his sweeps are all within the law.