The 85-year-old former Arizona sheriff was found guilty of violating a court order to stop racially profiling Latinxs and detaining them on the assumption that they were undocumented.
The New York Times reports that United States district judge Susan R. Bolton made the ruling on Monday.
Throughout his 24-year-long career, Arpaio became well-known for his extreme practices and incarceration policies for immigration enforcement.
In 2007, a legal Mexican citizen in the US, Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres, sued Arpaio and Maricopa County sheriff’s office deputies for unlawful detainment. Melendres alleged he was apprehended for nine hours after a traffic stop because of his ethnicity, the New York Times stated. Other Latinxs also joined the lawsuit, citing similar claims of racial discrimination, and US district court judge G. Murray Snow granted the lawsuit class-action status.
In 2011, Snow issued a temporary injunction that prohibited Arpaio and Maricopa County sheriffs from stopping and detaining Latinxs based on suspicion of a person's immigration status.
But that didn't stop Arpaio — and he didn't care who knew what he was up to. In fact, he made sure the public knew he wouldn't change his practices.
"If they don’t like what I’m doing, get the laws changed in Washington," he said in a 2012 interview, as the Los Angeles Times pointed out.
A couple months later, in an interview with Fox News, he said, "I’m not going to give it up. I’m going to continue to enforce state laws and federal laws."
Yes, it's all as WTF-sounding as you think it is.
In 2013, Snow determined that Arpaio's office had continued to engage in racial profiling and was found to have committed civil contempt.
However, Arpaio argued that he did not violate the judge's orders intentionally because they weren't clear. Bolton wasn't here for his BS excuse, though, and cited his multiple statements to the media as evidence that he understood the order.
"Despite this knowledge, the defendant broadcast to the world and to his subordinates that he would and they should continue ‘what he had always been doing,'" Bolton said.
He lost the civil case in 2013.
In 2015, prosecutors charged him with criminal contempt after disobeying the original order. This brings us to where we are today: the downfall of Arpaio. Bolton said in her decision, "[He] willfully violated the order by failing to do anything to ensure his subordinates' compliance and by directing them to continue to detain persons for whom no criminal charges could be filed."
Arpaio's sentencing phase begins on October 5. He faces up to six months of jail time.
Immigrant advocate groups are praising the judge's ruling.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund wrote, "The ruling essentially recognizes that local police lack the constitutionally-required evidence to detain or arrest undocumented immigrants who entered the country without inspection or who overstayed a visa."
Deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and one of the lawyers in the suit against Arpaio, Cecillia Wang, said, "[The verdict] is a vindication for all the victims of his illegal stops and detentions whose constitutional rights were violated."