A federal court has found Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in contempt of court for violating court orders to stop racially profiling Latinos.
The racial profiling arose as part of Arpaio's widely publicized enforcement operations that target undocumented immigrants, but have had widespread consequences throughout the immigrant and Latino communities in Arizona.
The contempt ruling issued by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow Friday stemmed from an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit, Ortega Melendres v. Arpaio, in which the court found that Arpaio's office profiled and illegally detained Latinos, violating their constitutional rights.
The contempt ruling comes after repeated attempts by Arpaio to disobey the court’s order to overhaul the agency’s policing practices.
The ruling states that Arpaio and his deputies, "have demonstrated a persistent disregard for the orders of the Court, as well as an intention to violate and manipulate the laws and policies regulating their conduct…".
In a statement provided to NBC News, Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said, "The court has found that Sheriff Arpaio intentionally and repeatedly violated federal court orders. His recalcitrance ends here. Strong remedies are needed to protect the community’s rights, starting with internal investigations that root out and punish misconduct. Willing or not, the sheriff will be made to comply with the law."
Sheriff Arpaio won election in Maricopa County, Arizona, in 2012 by a margin of 51% to 44%, against Paul Penzone. He is up for re-election this year. Arpaio often boasts about his infamous "Tent City," a makeshift outdoor prison on the outskirts of Phoenix where summer temperatures will regularly reach 110 degrees.
Arpaio has been a strong supporter of Donald Trump's presidential bid and has been an outspoken supporter of Trump's promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico. Trump has said he will make Mexico pay for the wall by seizing money transfers to Mexico from the United States.