PHOENIX – Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is demanding the federal government pay the bill to meet the requirements of a federal court order intended to prevent the Sheriff's Office from racial profiling.
Last May, United States District Judge Murray Snow found the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office had singled out Latino drivers in its immigration enforcement activities. He has since ordered sweeping — and expensive — changes at the agency.
Snow found it was wrong that deputies used a person's race or ethnicity as one factor when deciding if there was reasonable suspicion to investigate immigration status.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and ICE lawyers on Thursday, Arpaio claimed that had it not been for ICE's "wrongful and mistaken training" then "there would have been no adverse finding against the MCSO."
According to Arpaio's letter, that means the feds are responsible for the costs that came from his deputies following that training.
Arpaio demanded the U.S. government pay nearly $38 million.
That's how much he estimates the cost of legal fees and compliance with Snow's order will cost over the next five years.
In the letter, Arpaio threatens "whatever legal actions are necessary to remedy this injustice caused by the Federal agencies failures and errors."
The Department of Justice declined comment.
As Fronteras Desk reported in May, Snow's order against the Sheriff's Office also identified problems with MCSO policies and practices separate from the ICE training.
Snow mentioned in his order that after ICE's 287(g) task force agreement with MCSO ended in 2009, an MCSO sergeant incorrectly told deputies that immigrants in the country illegally were committing a crime, and could be detained solely for that reason.
MCSO deputies used to turn immigrants they believed to be in the country unlawfully over to ICE if those immigrants could not be charged for state crimes. Snow has since forbidden MCSO from detaining anyone based solely on the belief that they are in the country illegally.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been modified to reflect the amount Arpaio is seeking is nearly $38 million.
Updated 1/18/2014 at 11:15 a.m.