PHOENIX (AP) — The stage is set for a possible trial in a lawsuit alleging racial profiling by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies.
A judge issued a ruling Friday that prevents Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies from detaining people based solely on the suspicion that they are in the country illegally.
Attorneys suing on behalf of five Latinos also won class-action status that lets other Hispanics join the case if they've been detained and questioned by deputies in the county, either as a driver or passenger in a vehicle, since January of 2007.
The rulings are the latest setback to the immigration enforcement efforts of Joe Arpaio who calls himself "America's toughest sheriff."
Officials in Washington yanked Arpaio's federal immigration enforcement powers earlier this month after a Justice Department report accused his office of having a pattern of racial profiling. The report caused the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to remove Arpaio's federal powers that allowed his office to verify the immigration status of jail inmates. Arpaio is now left only with state immigration laws to carry out his patrols, and those powers were limited further by yesterday's ruling.