ACLU Sues Maricopa County Sheriff's Office for Illegal Arrest and Detention of US Citizen and Legal Resident

For Immediate Release


Maria Archuleta, ACLU national, (212) 519-7808 or 549-2666;
Alessandra Soler Meetze, ACLU of Arizona, (602) 650-1854 ext. 106 (office) or 602-418-5499 (cell)

ACLU Sues Maricopa County Sheriff's Office for Illegal Arrest and Detention of US Citizen and Legal Resident

Men Stopped 100 Yards From Worksite Raid

American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona filed a lawsuit
today challenging the illegal arrest and detention of a U.S. citizen
and a legal resident by Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO)
deputies. The two men were driving down a public roadway when they were
stopped and arrested without justification, and transported to the site
of an immigration raid.

"Our clients suffered egregious
constitutional violations and were terrified when held against their
will for three hours by armed MCSO personnel," said Dan Pochoda, Legal
Director of the ACLU of Arizona and lead counsel on the case. "Sheriff
Joe Arpaio's deputies had absolutely no reason to stop these two men
and drag them off to a worksite raid. This is yet another example of
MCSO sacrificing the rights and well being of workers in the name of
immigration enforcement."

The lawsuit was filed in U.S.
District Court for the District of Arizona on behalf of Julian Mora, a
legal permanent resident who has lived in the U.S. for 30 years, and
his son Julio Mora, a U.S. citizen, against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe
Arpaio and Maricopa County. The lawsuit charges that the MCSO deputies
racially profiled the father and son as they drove their pickup truck
on a busy public road and illegally arrested and detained them,
violating the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under
the law and prohibition on unreasonable seizures.

Julian Mora was driving to work
when, without provocation, an MCSO vehicle cut in front of him forcing
him to stop abruptly. MCSO deputies then ordered the father and son out
of their vehicle, then frisked and handcuffed them. Although the
deputies had no reason to believe that the Moras had broken any law or
were in the country unlawfully, they transported the Moras to Handyman
Maintenance, Inc. (HMI), where MCSO was conducting a raid that morning.
For the next three hours, the Moras were held at HMI, where they were
denied food and water and forbidden contact with the outside world.
They were not released until they were interrogated.

The ordeal was particularly
humiliating for 66-year-old Julian Mora who, due to his diabetic
condition, has difficulty controlling his bladder and had an urgent
need to use the bathroom. MCSO personnel, however, rejected his
repeated requests. Eventually, deputies escorted him outside where he
was made to urinate in the parking lot. MCSO personnel later mocked his
son Julio when he had to use the bathroom, because he had difficulty
going with his hands still cuffed.

"To this day, I don't know why the
officers stopped us out of all the cars on the road," said 19-year-old
Julio Mora. "We were treated like criminals and never told why. I was
very scared. I never thought something like this would happen to me.
Now I know it can happen to anyone, citizens too. I don't think it's

Arizona's draconian employer
sanctions law and the federal 287(g) program have enabled MCSO
personnel to question and arrest workers for alleged violations of
federal immigration law. As a result, MCSO has aggressively stepped up
local immigration enforcement efforts and conducted raids at worksites
across the county with predominantly Latino employees. The raids have
not resulted in the conviction of any employer for an employer
sanctions violation.

"Local sheriff and police forces
simply should not be in the business of enforcing immigration laws.
Where state or local officers try to determine who is in the U.S.
without permission, we see a pattern of conduct where law-abiding
people cannot go about their business without government interference,"
said Cecillia Wang, a managing attorney with the ACLU Immigrants'
Rights Project. "Instead of violating our basic American rights by
seizing people without any reason and singling them out for 'looking
foreign,' MCSO should focus on dangerous crimes and maintaining a safe
environment for everyone in Maricopa County."

Annie Lai, an ACLU of Arizona staff
attorney, said "Arpaio's worksite raids - such as the raids last year
on Artistic Land Management in Mesa, Gold Canyon Candle Company in
Chandler, last week's raid on Royal Paper Converting and this raid on
HMI - are frequently conducted in total disregard for people's
constitutional rights and have resulted in the arbitrary detention of
many law-abiding citizens and legal residents."

Lawyers on the case, Mora, et al. v. Arpaio, et al., include Wang and Harini Raghupathi of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project and Pochoda and Lai of the ACLU of Arizona. 

The complaint is online at:

More information about the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project is online at:


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Share This Article

More in: