- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sheriff Joe Arpaio told a federal court in Arizona last Wednesday that he has disbanded his criminal employment unit and will stop enforcing Arizona’s identity theft laws against illegal immigrants, in a move that Hispanic advocacy groups said was a major victory for them.

Even as he seeks to overturn President Obama’s new amnesty, Sheriff Arpaio, in Maricopa County, Ariz., said the president’s policy will allow many illegal immigrants to work legal in the U.S., making it no longer necessary for those that qualify to have to use bogus identity documents to get a job.

Immigrant-rights groups have sued to try to overturn the Arizona identity laws, arguing they are unconstitutional. And the Obama administration has likewise been dismissive, issuing guidance to its immigration agents telling them not to pursue deportation cases involving illegal immigrants who broke Arizona’s identity laws.

Sheriff Arpaio’s criminal employment unit had been controversial, with immigrant-rights advocates saying it struck fear into illegal immigrants who were trying to gain jobs and live.

The Associated Press reported that Sheriff Arpaio’s office has raided 83 businesses and charged more than 700 immigrants with using fake or stolen identity.

His lawyers, though, told a federal court he was ending it, as he tried to head off a challenge by several self-identified illegal immigrants to the constitutionality of the state laws.

“MCSO no longer enforces [the statutes] and disbanded the criminal employment unit, the squad charged with investigating cases,” the sheriff’s lawyer said.

Puente Arizona, one of the groups that sued to stop the sheriff, said it was a victory. But the plaintiffs also said they will pursue their case in order to try to strike down the law.

“This could not have been possible if not for the courage of undocumented workers who came forward to challenge the workplace raids. The community targeted by Arpaio’s war of attrition is turning the tables on the sheriff,” said Carlos Garcia, an official with Puente Arizona.

Sheriff Arpaio told the federal court that since he’s no longer enforcing the ID theft laws, the plaintiffs have no standing to sue.

Meanwhile, in his own case against the president’s new amnesty, it’s the Obama administration who argues Sheriff Arpaio has no standing to sue. The sheriff says he will have to spend more money enforcing laws because more illegal immigrants will come into the U.S. in response to the president’s policy, but the administration says that’s speculative and the sheriff can’t prove an actual harm.

That case is pending in federal court in Washington, D.C. Both sides are due in court on Monday to argue over Sheriff Arpaio’s request for an injunction to halt the president from beginning to carry out his policy.

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