(KFYI News) – Immigrant rights advocates have filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Bill Montgomery over workplace raids conducted by the Sheriff's Office and charges of ID theft filed by Montgomery's office.
Attorney Ray Ybarra Maldonado, representing the plaintiffs, told reporters at a news conference in front of the new MCSO headquarters at the edge of downtown Phoenix that the charges fail to differentiate between true identity theft – where someone intentionally steals someone's name and social security number in order to obtain credit cards or loans in their name and destroy their credit – and making up a Social Security number in order to get a job.
A state law passed during the height of anti-illegal immigration fervor that included Senate Bill 1070 defined identity theft as using anyone's name or Social Security number not belonging to the individual.
In response to the lawsuit, Arpaio said anyone who has a problem with the law needs to petition the legislature to change the law, rather than suing him for enforcing it.
In a statement, county attorney Bill Montgomery said "There is no element in these statutes that criminalizes working to provide for a family... The enforcement of Arizona's identity theft statutes is without regard to someone's immigration status. It is based on underlying conduct."
As a result, he says the lawsuit is without legal basis.
PHOTOS: Protesters talk to reporters outside Arpaio's office, and then go inside to personally deliver a copy of the lawsuit to the agency.