As we reported in Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund, some of the victims of Arpaio’s reign of terror may be able to seek compensation through a fund established by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). Now the application period has started, and the community has mobilized to assist claimants.
Judge G. Murray Snow ordered the creation of the fund in 2016 to compensate those whom Arpaio illegally stopped and/or detained during immigration enforcement activities that had been prohibited by the court, which Arpaio dismissed publicly. At that point, the federal judge had already censured Arpaio for racially profiling Latinos, during the years-long case Ortega Melendres v. Arpaio, and ordered him to stop his discriminatory immigration patrols.
Following the judge’s order, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors set aside $500,000 to pay victims of the violated court order. But now, even members of MCBS believe the amount may be insufficient to fulfill compensation for victims.
The federal judge also ordered the county to hire a settlement company to “notice and outreach potentially eligible individuals.”
Victims detained by MCSO between Dec. 23, 2011 and May 24, 2013 can also seek compensation for damages including lost wages, attorney’s fees, property loss and emotional distress.
On Saturday, December 9, 2017, attorneys and activists gathered at First Church UCC in Phoenix with victims who were stopped or detained by MCSO and guided them in the process of filing applications for compensation.
The victims have only a year to act. They must file the application to the compensation fund from December 1, 2017 to December 1, 2018.
Activist Raul Piña, who is a member of the Community Advisory Board (CAB) also created by Judge Snow to monitor reform in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, mentioned that potential victims may be hesitant to approach the clinics and file the application for fear of retaliation by the immigration enforcement agency ICE, MCSO or both. However, it is important to note that the information provided by claimants cannot be shared with other agencies, as established within a federal court order related to the settlement creation.
Piña also indicated that potential claimants should be proactive in gathering documentation about the stop or detention incident by MCSO, along with the expenses incurred due to the detention, to facilitate the process.
MCSO has identified 189 individuals who may receive compensation from the fund, but the number may not represent all the people affected by Arpaio’s illegal enforcement and is likely to increase.