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Editorial: Ban request makes Arpaio look guilty

Hard-line fence-builders and compassionate open-border advocates alike agree that Arizona's current immigration network is not where it needs to be. It's costly to depleted budgets, its tax structure is far from documented, and it can be as unsafe to Americans as it can be to smuggled immigrants.

Trust is a large part of how citizens face the issue. And the man in charge of the toughest immigration law in the land apparently does not trust us to handle his methods.

We learned Thursday that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is asking a federal judge to bar the public release of videos of depositions by nine sheriff's officials in a lawsuit that accuses deputies of racially profiling Hispanics in immigration patrols. Preventing racial profiling is at the heart of immigration reforms like SB 1070. Latinos comprise 30 percent of our state's legal population, and to violate any of that population's civil rights based simply on the way they look is a breach of everything America stands for.

And it's not as though the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office hasn't had its share of claims to the contrary. This is an office that has once already, in an October 2009 deposition, admitted to shredding evidence directly relating to Sheriff Arpaio's anti-immigration sweeps, including documents requested multiple times by plaintiffs in the racial profiling lawsuit. A December deposition that year also exposed that Sheriff Arpaio has not instituted any training for deputies on racial profiling, and does not believe any training is necessary.

Now the sheriff wants us to be barred from hearing the latest testimony, proving that his office believes more in barring the release of taxpayer-funded depositions than in barring racial profiling from the law's standards and practices.

We're certainly pleased with any investigation into civil rights violation claims, and would hope that any probe exonerates the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. And if videotape depositions existed to do just that, you can bet Sheriff Arpaio and his lawyers would release the tapes faster than you can say YouTube.

But when the sheriff wants to control what we can and cannot hear regarding a contentious issue on which his office is taking the legal lead, we should all worry about his political power, no matter what we look like.

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