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Group seeks migrants illegally detained by Arpaio's officers

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks during a campaign event May 22, 2018, in Phoenix. (Matt York/AP file)

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks during a campaign event May 22, 2018, in Phoenix. (Matt York/AP file)

PHOENIX — More than 100 people have started the process of filing compensation claims for being illegally detained when then-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio disobeyed a 2011 court order barring his traffic patrols targeting immigrants.

Taxpayers are on the hook for compensating those who were illegally detained and turned over to federal immigration authorities in patrols that Arpaio later acknowledged prolonging from December 2011 and late May 2013.

The Centro De Los Derechos Del Migrante, a binational labor rights organization, is working to find victims in Mexico as part of an outreach campaign by BrownGreer, a Richmond, Virginia, law firm in charge of administering the compensation fund, The Arizona Republic reported .

The victims may qualify for $500 to $10,000 in compensation under the $500,000 court-ordered fund set aside by Maricopa County.

The deadline for filing a compensation claim is Dec. 3.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office identified 189 people who may qualify for compensation, but the number is likely higher because the agency did not keep good records of the stops, said Ben Botts, legal director at Centro De Los Derechos Del Migrante.

Though most victims likely remain in Arizona, some may now be living in Mexico, either because they returned on their own or were deported, potentially "as a result of these same practices," Botts said.

Of the 79 claims that have been completed, 14 of those have addresses in Mexico and two have addresses in Honduras, Botts said.

A federal judge overseeing a racial profiling lawsuit that targeted Arpaio's immigration patrols ordered the creation of the fund as a remedy for victims of Arpaio's illegal detentions, which occurred when Latinos were picked up by the agency's human smuggling unit during traffic stops.

Arpaio, who lost re-election in November 2016 after 24 years as sheriff, faced up to six months in jail as punishment for the misdemeanor conviction.

In August 2017 President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio, who was an early supporter of Trump's presidential bid.

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