Sheriff-Led Business Raids in AZ are Cause for Concern

Posted by Matthew Green | Jul 28, 2014 | 0 Comments

Recently, an article was posted by the Associated Press that speaks to the growing concern over business raids led by an Arizona sheriff's office. In June, a lawsuit was filed alleging some sheriff-led business raids in Arizona are improperly singling out immigrant workers. These raids have led to hundreds of immigrants being arrested and charged with “using fake or stolen IDs to get jobs.”

The issue has been raised against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The lawsuit claims that Arpaio goes after undocumented immigrants who live and work in the area, although “only a small number of court cases brought against them on allegations of illegal hiring.”

The pro-immigration advocates who are bringing the suit are not asking for money, but instead are hoping that a federal judge decides “that a state law banning employers from hiring immigrants living in the U.S. illegally is discriminatory and conflicts with federal law.” The advocates are asking for a court order that would prohibit Arpaio from enforcing the law.

Currently, Arpaio's office is the only police agency in the state that has “raided business in enforcement of the employment law.” In total, there have been 83 business raids performed since the 2008 law was instituted. These 83 raids led to more than 700 undocumented immigrants being arrested. However, only three private businesses have had a civil case filed against them.

Meanwhile, Arpaio said he would continue authorizing these kinds of raids. The sheriff found there to be “no distinction between people who steal identities for the purposes of taking other people's money and those who use fake or stolen IDs to get jobs.” Arpaio went on to say that it should not matter what the reason is, stealing someone else's ID is unlawful.

That kind of explanation doesn't sit well with immigrant advocates, many of whom were gathered outside the sheriff's office with signs calling for “No More Raids.” Stopping these raids would be substantial for Arpaio's office. This is because many consider these raids to be a significant part in the sheriff's immigration efforts.

As you can imagine, Arpaio vehemently disagrees with those who find his tactics to be discriminatory. At the time this employment law was passed in Arizona, people in the state were demanding changes to current immigration enforcement policies. This law sought to “target employers, who are blamed with fueling the nation's border woes.”

Although the law was successfully passed in 2008, the current lawsuit claims that the state legislature “acted in a discriminatory fashion when it revamped identity-theft laws to include workers who use fake or stolen IDs to get jobs.”

The lawsuit was originally filed on behalf of two females who had been arrested in business raids. Sara Cervantes Arreola and Guadalupe Arredondo were both arrested in 2013 and both plead guilty to an identity-theft charge. Now, they are working to achieve class-action status in order for other immigrant workers to be permitted to join the cause of action.

What do you think? How do you envision this case turning out?

About the Author

Matthew Green

The Law Offices of Matthew H. Green focuses on the aggressive defense of immigrants. A native of Arizona, Mr. Green understands the difficulties that immigrants and families of immigrants face when a loved one is charged...

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