Days After Government Drops Several Deportation Cases In His County, Arizona Sheriff Retaliates With More Raids


Sheriff Joe Arpaio outside of Uncle Sam's Restaurant

On Wednesday, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) sent over fifty law enforcement officials to conduct an immigration raid on two family-style restaurants in the Phoenix, Arizona area.

The officials arrested ten people at the restaurant chain Uncle Sam on charges of identity theft and forgery, but are still looking for sixty other individuals in connection to the charges. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for his anti-immigrant stance, alleges that since October 2012, the restaurant employed 121 people under false pretenses. All ten of the arrested suspects at the Uncle Sam are Latino.

On the day of the raids, Arpaio tweeted that his “73rd workplace ID theft operation [is] underway.” But he insisted to the media that the raid was not immigration-related, but a result of a nine month investigation.

But there is reason to doubt Arpaio’s motives in conducting the raids now. Earlier this week, the federal government dropped dozens of deportation proceedings against undocumented immigrants living in Maricopa County. Immigration advocates like Puente Arizona believe that Arpaio conducted the raids on Wednesday as retaliation against the federal government dropping those cases.

The raid also follows a federal judge’s decision in May to temporarily suspended Arpaio from launching immigration-related raids, ruling that he racially profiled Latinos. The Department of Justice (DOJ) also sued the MCSO for unconstitutional policing in 2011. Indeed, Arpaio has a long history of indiscriminately arresting immigrants.