Los Angeles, CA – Please attribute the following statement on the conviction of Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., for criminal contempt of court to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund):
“Today’s ruling finding Joe Arpaio, the disgraced former sheriff from Arizona, guilty of criminal contempt should be required reading for every police officer in Texas and anywhere else where officers are coerced into attempting to enforce federal immigration law. The ruling essentially recognizes that local police lack the constitutionally-required evidence to detain or arrest undocumented immigrants who entered the country without inspection or who overstayed a visa. Attempting to perform such arrests and detentions places police officers in a precarious legal position that can have significant consequences, including criminal conviction.
Unfortunately, with its notorious enactment of SB 4, the state of Texas would essentially throw its police officers into the constitutional wilderness on these issues without any guidance or direction from sheriffs or police chiefs. It is no exaggeration to say that SB 4 heightens the risk of being found guilty of significant legal violations for every police officer or sheriff’s deputy throughout Texas.
Whether Arpaio’s notoriety garners him unwarranted protection from a jury or presidential pardon in the future, police officers in Texas and elsewhere should understand that they are unlikely to receive any such undeserved indulgence.”