(CNSNews.com) – Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said the Obama administration’s decision to file a lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is not surprising, but that men and women in law enforcement will stand by the man they believe is enforcing the law and protecting the citizens of Arizona.
“Hooray for Sheriff Joe,” Babeu told CNSNews.com. “He’s standing up for Arizona and is actually enforcing the law.”
Babeu said the lawsuit against Arpaio is the latest in a series of attacks by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which has already filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona, challenging legislation passed earlier this year to crack down on illegal immigration in the state.
The DOJ lawsuit against the state claims that Arizona is usurping the federal government’s sole right to enforce immigration law.
The case against Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office basically concerns what the DOJ says is that office's interference with its investigation into claims that the Sheriff's Office uses discriminatory practices to catch illegal immigrants.
The lawsuit cites Title VI of the Civil rights Act and states that, “Since March 2009, the United States has attempted to secure Defendants’ voluntary cooperation with the United States’ investigation of alleged national origin discrimination in Defendants’ police practices and jail operations. Despite notice of their obligation to comply in full with the United States’ requests for information, Defendants have refused to do so. Defendants’ refusal to cooperate with reasonable requests for information regarding the use of federal funds is a violation of Defendants’ statutory, regulatory, and contractual obligations. The United States accordingly seeks a judgment granting declaratory and injunctive relief for Defendants’ violations of the law.”
In a statement, Sheriff Arpaio said, “These actions make it abundantly clear that Arizona, including the sheriff, is Washington’s new whipping boy. It’s time to take the gloves off.”
Sheriff Babeu told CNSNews.com: “Anybody who is out here in Arizona, we have a target on our back. … Instead of helping us, they [the federal government] literally fight us at every turn.”
“And this is yet another example of their assault against Arizona and undermining the rule of law and undermining the great honor of our badge,” Babeu said of the latest lawsuit.
Babeu, whose county is in the central part of a state where 50 percent of the illegal drug and human trafficking takes place, said he and fellow police officers support Joe Arpaio.
“I just talked to him yesterday,” Babeu said. “I’m meeting with him today.”
“And I said, ‘Fear not, Sheriff Joe -- that the sheriffs of America stand with you; that we are constitutionally elected and empowered to protect America and to protect our citizens, and that we shall do even if our own president will not.”
“Even our own president refuses to do his job,” Babeu said. “We will stand with our fellow sheriff and stand up for the rule of law and stand up for America.”
At a press conference in Arizona held after the Associated Press reported the DOJ lawsuit had been filed on Thursday, Arpaio expressed frustration but said that he has confidence in his deputies.
“I’m very confident that my deputies do not racial profile,” Arpaio said. “And they know it. They [DOJ] can’t get the proof. So now they are suing me.”
He called it “sad” that after a year-and-a-half investigation and his department handing over reams of documents, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against him and his department.
Babeu, who is president of the Arizona affiliate of the National Sheriff’s Association, said he and other police officers in Arizona and around the country support Arpaio.
“I support him 110 percent,” Babeu said.