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Federal judge blocks use of Arizona identity theft laws

[JURIST] Judge David Campbell for the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] on Monday ruled [opinion] Maricopa County officials may not enforce two Arizona identity-theft laws used to convict hundreds of undocumented immigrant workers. The court ordered an immediate halt [LAT report] to the state's enforcement of identity theft laws that penalize undocumented immigrants for seeking employment, holding the Arizona law is at odds with corresponding federal statutes. Pursuant to federal law, it is not illegal for an undocumented immigrant to apply for a job. In 2007 and 2008, however, Arizona changed the legal definition of identity theft to include attempts at employment by immigrants in the country illegally. Monday's decision came nearly three weeks after Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio [official profile] voluntarily disbanded [AP report] his squad that raided dozens of businesses to arrest hundreds of immigrants were charged with using fake or stolen IDs to get jobs.

Arpaio [JURIST news archive] has been the target of judicial action in recent years for the actions of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) and Arpaio's outspoken comments on immigration. In October a judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona ordered [JURIST report] Arpaio to undergo the same training as his deputies to assist in the prevention of racial profiling and unlawful detention in the MCSO as part of the ongoing case against Arpaio for racial profiling. Legal action began in 2007 when a group of Hispanic drivers filed a class-action lawsuit arguing they were unlawfully targeted because of their ethnicity. In 2013 a federal judge ruled that Arpaio and his department engaged in unconstitutional racial profiling [JURIST report] during the execution of immigration patrols. In 2012 the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a discrimination suit [JURIST report] against Maricopa County, Arizona, the MCSO and Arpaio. The DOJ claimed that Arpaio and his department engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminatory and unlawful law enforcement actions against Latinos. According to the complaint, "Latinos in Maricopa County are frequently stopped, detained, and arrested on the basis of race, color, or national origin, and Latino prisoners with limited English language skills are denied important constitutional protections." Later in 2012 the DOJ asked the Arizona district court to reject Arpaio's request to dismiss the lawsuit against him [JURIST report].

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