Feds to Probe Fox News' Sheriff Joe Arpaio

The Arizona Republic:


The U.S. Justice Department has launched a civil-rights investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office after months of mounting complaints that deputies are discriminating in their enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Officials from the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division notified Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Tuesday that they had begun the investigation, which will focus on whether deputies are engaging in "patterns or practices of discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures."

An expert said it is the department's first civil-rights probe related to immigration enforcement.

Arpaio vehemently denies that deputies are illegally profiling as part of his immigration crackdowns. He said Tuesday that he welcomes the investigation and intends to cooperate fully.

"We have nothing to hide," he said.

Although Arpaio's illegal-immigration crackdowns have broad public support, they also have led to calls for an examination of his tactics.

Last year, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon asked for a federal investigation of possible civil-rights abuses. Last month, four key Democratic members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee asked Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to investigate Arpaio.

The lawmakers said Arpaio had exceeded the limits of a federal program that gives local police federal immigration-enforcement powers by ordering deputies to "scour" Latino neighborhoods looking for illegal immigrants based on skin color.

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