In a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder’s Washington D.C. office, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio made demand on the federal government to reimburse Maricopa County for the millions of dollars of ongoing costs associated with implementing the Melendres federal court order.
The October 2013 ruling by Judge Murray Snow accused Sheriff’s deputies of violating the 4th and 14th amendment rights of Latino drivers and passengers in traffic stops made between 2007 and 2009, while following the training protocols provided to them by ICE officials. Known as the Melendres ruling, the court has imposed several costly changes to Sheriff’s Office policies and procedures, many of which have been or are in the process of being implemented.
Arpaio contends in his letter to Attorney General Holder that it was the training and instruction given to his deputies by ICE officials during a five-week long course, which was led by ICE officials on how to enforce immigration laws that provided the basis for which deputies were later accused of racially biased policing. The court acknowledged that MCSO deputies were acting in accordance with ICE training but still held the Sheriff’s Office responsible.
The Sheriff’s counsel notified both ICE and the Attorney General of the very real possibility of a reimbursement claim in an earlier letter. Arpaio says that should the demand letter be ignored, he may legally move against the U.S. government on behalf of his office and Maricopa County taxpayers.
“The federal courts in several different cases have very directly stated that the area of immigration enforcement is solely the province of the federal government,” says Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre. “In this case, we acted in accord with the “experts” advice and training to our deputies during their 287G training. The federal government has the moral, ethical, and legal responsibility to act fairly and honestly with us just as they require citizens to act toward it. In this case, we are victims of their errors in training and legal advice, and we should be made whole financially.”