A Department of Justice report released Monday indicates that the East Haven, Conn., police department “has engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against Latinos in violation of the Constitution and federal law.”

The Department of Justice letter (.pdf) to the East Haven P.D. indicates that its “investigation, which began in September 2009, focused on allegations that EHPD officers engage in biased policing, unconstitutional searches and seizures, and the use of excessive force.”

The DOJ concludes: “We have reasonable cause to believe that EHPD officers intentionally target Latinos for disparate traffic enforcement and treatment because of their race, color, or national origin,” based on a statistical analysis of traffic stops, incidents of abuse of authority, “failure to remedy a history of discrimination,” and “significant deviations from standard police practices.”

Last week the Department of Homeland Security announced it immediately terminated its immigration enforcement agreements with the office of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz. after a DOJ report found that Arpaio, an advocate for controversial immigration enforcement and detention measures, has committed a “wide range of civil rights violations.”

In South Florida, Homestead residents and immigrant advocates delivered a petition with 2,000 signatures to Miami-Dade County Police Department headquarters last week, “calling on the department to stop its practice of stopping Latino drivers based on their racial profile.”

Alvaro Zabaleta, a spokesperson for the Miami-Dade County Police Department, told The Florida Independent that the department “strives” to maintain “core values of integrity, respect, service, and fairness.” Zabaleta said the department “will investigate” the issue.

Immigrant advocates from South Florida have denounced the fact that under the current immigration enforcement program Secure Communities, an arrest when no crime is involved can quickly turn into a deportation process, leaving U.S.-born children without a parent.

“We’ve tried to show racial profiling in an objective way,” Jonathan Fried, executive director of We Count!, told the Independent, “but in Miami-Dade County, basically you’re white or black, there’s no way of coding Latinos to show the disparity in the stops — that’s been one of the problems.”

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