U.S. Attorney Thomas Perez is accusing the Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff's Office of instituting policies discriminatory toward Latinos, including racial profiling and unlawful detention, reports The Arizona Republic.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose jurisdiction includes the Phoenix metropolitan area, received a letter from the Justice Department Thursday morning. Arpaio is known as a hard-liner on immigration, and his get-tough policies on immigration have captured national attention.
But those policies, Perez said at a press conference Thursday, have led to a culture of unconstitutional policing practices.
Among the practices the Justice Department has deemed discriminatory, reports The New York Times, are racial profiling of Latino drivers and mistreatment of jail inmates who do not speak English.
According to the report, Latinos are four to nine times more likely to be stopped in Maricopa County, which is home to nearly 4 million residents and by far the largest county in the state.
Arpaio has until Jan. 4 to decide if his office will comply with federal officials to make changes or face a civil action that would force compliance.