DOJ Puts Sheriff Arpaio on Notice. Who Will Put the DOJ on Notice?

The US Department of Justice is attempting to position itself as tough on racial profiling and violations.

While its arguments in front of the Supreme Court last week against parts of Arizona’s SB1070 were more about asserting the DOJ’s power to enforce immigration laws than insuring the rights of others, especially Latinos, race and ethnicity was an unspoken subtext.
Most recently the U.S. Justice Department kept the pressure on Arizona by targeting Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Following a breakdown in negotiations pushing for his police department to be monitored because of racial profiling allegations, yesterday the department announced its intent to sue. The DOJ is seeking to federally monitor Arpaio’s practices including targeting Latinos (or those perceived as Latinos) for unjustified traffic stops and arrests and prioritizing low level immigration offenses over investigating a backlog of sexual assault cases.

While federal oversight of Arpaio’s office is long overdue (just do a search with Arpaio’s name in our own search box to see for yourself), the question that remains unanswered is how to we get the Federal Justice Department to monitor themselves?

So far the Federal Justice Department has refused to investigate the death of Anastasio Hernández-Rojas or any other death that has occurred on the U.S. Mexican border at the hands of Border Patrol. Some organizations, politicians like Senator Robert Menendez, Reps. Raul Grijalva, Xavier Becerra, Jared Polis and Lucille Roybal-Allard, and individuals are putting pressure on Attorney General Eric holder to open an investigation of all killings committed by the Border Patrol since 2010. Yesterday the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security also demanding an investigation into border patrol related deaths.

If the Department of Justice is interested in doing more than just flexing it’s muscle to show states Federal supremacy, than it needs to take a look at how the U.S. Border Patrol treats both U.S. and Mexican citizens like Anastasio. Otherwise it’s hard to believe that Eric Holder is interested in anything resembling justice.

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