In an ACLU case of national importance, a federal judge issued a crucial ruling Friday in a case challenging the practices of Maricopa County ruled Friday on the case concerning Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  The National ACLU Immigration Project and the ACLU of Arizona successfully challenged the Sheriff Department’s use of racial profiling during raids and traffic stops.

Judge G. Murray Snow of United States District Court delivered a 142 page decision criticizing the practices of Sheriff Arpaio and his deputies:

According to a story in The New York Times, the judge said the “sheriff relied on racial profiling and illegal detentions to target Latinos, using their ethnicity as the main basis for suspecting they were in the country illegally. Many of the people targeted were American citizens or legal residents.

“In an immigration enforcement context,” Judge Snow ruled, the sheriff’s office “did not believe that it constituted racial profiling to consider race as one factor among others in making law enforcement decisions.” In fact, he said its plans and policies confirmed that, “in the context of immigration enforcement,” deputies “could consider race as one factor among others.”

The ruling prohibits the sheriff’s office from using “race or Latino ancestry” as a factor in deciding to stop any vehicle with Latino occupants, or as a factor in deciding whether they may be in the country without authorization.

It also prohibits deputies from reporting a vehicle’s Latino occupants to federal immigration authorities or detaining, holding or arresting them, unless there is more than just a “reasonable belief” that they are in the country illegally. To detain them, the ruling said, the deputies must also have reasonable suspicion that the occupants are violating the state’s human-trafficking and employment laws or committing other crimes.”

The ACLU of Illinois congratulates the National ACLU and the ACLU of Arizona on this big win.