A federal judge has issued an injunction barring members of the Otero County Sheriff's Department from enforcing immigration laws through the controversial Operation Stonegarden.

The injunction specifically bars the department from "engaging in unlawful discriminatory activities and racial profiling for the purpose of identifying and apprehending undocumented and illegal immigrants pursuant to Operation Stonegarden."

In addition, the order bars the department from "unlawful retaliation, coercion, harassment, threats and intimidation," and tells the department not to conduct "unlawful community-wide raids targeted low-income Latino residents in Otero County."

In the summer of 2007, Otero County sheriffs deputies, using federal grant funds under the program name "Operation Stonegarden," began "a series of increasingly aggressive campaigns aimed at identifying and apprehending undocumented immigrants," claimed the Border Network for Human Rights in a lawsuit aimed at stopping the practice.

Among the allegations, although not specifically part of the lawsuit, were that the actions included stopping people at traffic checkpoints and asking for immigration status. (Click on links below the article to view the lawsuit and response from the government.)

In October, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund filed one lawsuit, and the Border Network for Human Rights, represented by the Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project filed another. Click here for background on the issue.

In May, the ACLU and MALDEF reached an agreement with the Otero sheriff's department regarding policies and procedures. Click here for background on that settlement.

Meanwhile, the other lawsuit resulated in the order signed by U.S. District Judge Martha Vazquez Friday.

In the order, Vazquez referred to claims that sheriff's deputies have been harassing residents of the community since the lawsuit's filing.

Representatives of both the Otero County Sheriff's Department and the Border Network for Human Rights were not immediately available for comment.

View the 11-page order via the link below.

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