Frontera Fund News

Good News in the Courts: Arpaio, DACA, Family Detention


It’s been another big week in the courts, with three major cases impacting immigrant communities – in promising ways. Here’s what you need to know.

Judge Snow Slams Arpaio and Co.

Protesters gathered outside a Phoenix courtroom on May 31 to demand Sheriff Joe Arpaio be thrown in the slammer as the contempt case against the racial profiler continued. The activists were pleased with the results so far: Federal Judge G. Murray Snow hinted that he would refer the case to criminal contempt charges

Snow is considering criminal contempt referrals for four people: Arpaio; his chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan; his attorney, Michele Iafrate; and Captain Steve Bailey, former head of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s internal affairs unit.

The judge also agreed with ACLU attorney Cecillia Wang’s statement that Arpaio and Sheridan had committed perjury in their testimony last year.

Arpaio’s criminal attorney pleaded with Snow to let the sheriff get off with a $100,000 fine. But Snow countered that the fine would likely be paid by Arpaio’s supporters and would not deter him from committing future misconduct. 

The ACLU wants Arpaio to pay $300,000 out of his own pocket and demands compensation for victims of the MCSO’s racial profiling.

To learn more about the cases against Arpaio, attend the ACLU of Arizona’s community forum on June 9 at 6 p.m. in the Phoenix Burton Barr Central Library. Speakers will include Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona; Brenda Muñoz Furnish, staff attorney at ACLU of Arizona; Angeles Maldonado, a member of the court-appointed Melendres v. Arpaio Community Advisory Board; and Lydia Guzman, former president of Somos America. 

Obama Tries to Protect DREAMers from Texas Judge

The Obama administration filed a request to halt Texas Judge Andrew Hanen’s outrageous (and likely illegal) order telling the Department of Justice (DOJ) to hand over the personal information of about 50,000 immigrants who received three-year deportation deferrals under DACA. The information would include addresses, contact information and “A” numbers.

The DOJ pushed back, stating that Judge Hanen’s orders “far exceed the bounds of appropriate remedies” and “exceed the scope of [the court’s] authority.” 

Leon Rodriguez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), also vehemently opposed Judge Hanen’s order. “It is essential to the agency’s function and to fulfilling its statutory role that applicants have confidence in the privacy of the information they submit,” Rodriguez said. 

The DOJ is seeking a stay while it appeals the order to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Hanen – the same anti-immigrant conservative who blocked DAPA and DACA-plus and kicked off United States v. Texas – has scheduled a hearing for June 7 to consider the stay motion.

Judge Protects Kids in Family Detention Centers 

Remember the family detention center at Dilley, Texas – a de facto jail that needlessly incarcerates moms and kids fleeing violence? Well, it applied for a license to run as a child care facility. This is essentially like calling Sheriff Joe’s Tent City a Marriott Residence Inn.

Fortunately, a Texas judge sided with sanity and the fair treatment of immigrants. (And how often can you say that?) 

On June 1, State District Judge Karin Crump issued a temporary injunction to prevent the detention center from obtaining a child care license, which would have allowed the 2,400-bed facility to hold children for longer periods of time.

Of course, operating as a child care facility would also mean the detention centers could not house children with adult strangers and mixed genders (which it does) and would be required to let children out on field trips (which it doesn’t). So Texas authorities are issuing child care licenses with exemptions to these rules.

Judge Crump said that these exemption-riddled licenses put children in dangerous situations. The case will proceed to a full trial in September.