Racial Justice





Thursday, July 7, 2011

Daniel Pochoda, ACLU of Arizona, (602) 532-0486
Alessandra Soler Meetze, ACLU of Arizona, (602) 773-6006 (office) or 602-418-5499 (cell)
Elizabeth Beresford, ACLU, (212) 519-7808, media@aclu.org

PHOENIX – The American Civil Liberties Union today announced that it has settled a lawsuit against the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) over the illegal stop, arrest and detention of a U.S. citizen and a legal resident during a 2009 immigration raid at Handyman Maintenance, Inc. in Phoenix.  As part of the settlement, Maricopa County agreed to pay $200,000 to Julian and Julio Mora and their lawyers in exchange for the dismissal of the lawsuit.

“Sheriff Arpaio’s deputies are not free to ignore the Constitution when they are enforcing immigration laws,” said ACLU of Arizona Staff Attorney Annie Lai, who served as lead counsel in the lawsuit. “County officials should take heed that the Moras and hundreds of other Latino residents who have been detained in the raids without any evidence of wrongdoing have recourse in the courts.” 

The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in August 2009 by 68-year-old Julian Mora, a legal permanent resident who has lived in the U.S. for 30 years, and his son Julio Mora, 21, a U.S. citizen.  The father and son were singled out from white drivers on a public roadway, stopped without justification, ordered out of their truck, zip-tied, and transported to a worksite immigration raid being conducted nearby.  Once taken to the worksite, they were detained by Sheriff’s Office personnel for three hours (along with over a hundred Latino workers) without food, water, or the ability to use the bathroom unescorted, until they were given a chance to prove that they were lawfully in the United States. 

In April, a federal court judge in Arizona ruled that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office violated the Fourth Amendment in stopping and arresting the Moras without cause and that the County was liable for damages.

"The Court found that the illegal acts against the Moras resulted from policies implemented by Sheriff Arpaio as part of his anti-immigrant campaign to round up employees in workplace raids,” added ACLU of Arizona Legal Director Daniel Pochoda. “The continuation of these policies by the Sheriff will result in additional liability for Maricopa County." 

The Moras were represented by the by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and the cooperating law firm Ryals & Breed of St. Louis.

“We are delighted that the Moras will now receive compensation for the abuses they suffered,” said Cecillia D. Wang, Director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “This lawsuit has helped to highlight the unconstitutional practices of Sheriff Arpaio’s office and we’ll continue to call law enforcement agencies to account when they engage in discriminatory practices based on reckless ‘illegal immigrant’ profiling.”

Lawyers on the case, Mora, et al. v. Arpaio, et al., include Wang and Andre Segura of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, Lai and  Pochoda of the ACLU of Arizona, and Stephen Ryals of Ryals & Breed, P.C., of St. Louis, Missouri. 

Read the April federal court decision.

Read the initial complaint.