PHOENIX – Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed 'America's Toughest Sheriff,' who led the way for local law enforcement across the country to take up immigration enforcement, is now pulling back on his crackdown.
Other law enforcement officials who have followed Arpaio's lead are also expected to eventually back away from doubling as immigration agents, traditionally considered a federal responsibility.
Arpaio, the controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes metropolitan Phoenix, has temporarily suspended all his immigration efforts after a federal judge concluded two weeks ago that the sheriff's office had racially profiled Latinos in its patrols, Arpaio spokesman Brandon Jones said.
Arpaio has for years created national headlines for his notorious criticism over Washington's handling of illegal immigration.
His critics, including the federal government, are gaining ground in their fight to get the sheriff out of immigration enforcement. Even before the ruling, Washington had stripped Arpaio's office of its approved federal immigration arrest powers and started to phase out the program across the country amid complaints that it led to abuses by local officers.
The recent ruling against Arpaio is expected to impact state immigration laws in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, where local officers question people's immigration status in certain instances.