Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio is facing a class action suit that accuses him of racism in law enforcement. Omar Jadwat is a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, one of the groups representing the plaintiffs. Last week, Jadwat explained what’s at stake in the Arpaio case and what difference the Arizona suit might make. But is the Maricopa County sheriff the only problem where discrimination by law enforcement is concerned? Far from it. Another nasty piece of the immigration picture is the federal law that permits officers like Arpaio to serve as immigration agents in the first place. Unfortunately, as Jadwat says, “the federal government is not going to sue itself.” Indeed. Watch. The transcript of our entire conversation is below:
Omar Jadwat: For sure. I can tell you about our plaintiffs, the Rodriguez family, who were out on a recreational area on a recreation vehicle having fun together with other people. They are US citizens and they were pulled over, nobody else was pulled over and the police officer asked them for identification. David Rodriguez supplied his license and registration and the officer said that wasn’t good enough, that what he had to actually do was produce a Social Security card, other things that the officer thought would be sufficient to prove that he was an official US resident. The idea that US citizens—who are not required to generally carry any kind of national identification—would be singled out on the basis of their race and required to produce more and more personal identification and information just to satisfy a police officer who has no business enforcing immigration law in the first place is, you know, the kind of thing that we’re trying to focus on in this case to make sure it doesn’t happen again.