Chandler roundup

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The Chandler roundup was a law enforcement operation in Chandler, Arizona, in 1997 in which hundreds of suspected illegal immigrants were arrested.[1][2][3] In 2004 hearings of the U.S. Senate, it was described as "the only major ethnic profiling incident actually related to immigration".[4]


The operation was known at the time as "Operation Restoration",[2] and was a joint operation between local law enforcement officers and federal authorities. Over five days in the summer of 1997,[3] from July 27 to July 31,[2] officers on bicycles patrolled Chandler asking suspected Hispanic people for proof of citizenship, and arresting those who could not provide proof.[2] All said, 432 illegal immigrants were arrested in Chandler and later deported.[2] However, many U.S. citizens and legal residents were also stopped and arrested, largely on the basis of their skin color, leading Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods to concede that their civil rights had been violated.[5][6][7]


A precise count of the number of people affected by the raid is not available because the INS does not collect data on the number of people who were stopped but later determined to be legally in the U.S.[7] The investigations that followed the roundup focused on a set of 91 formal complaints filed by 71 different people concerning incidents during the raid in which they were stopped and asked for papers. Of these 91 incidents, 23 led to arrests; three of the arrestees were found to be illegal immigrants. The other 20 arrestees were a mix of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants, and were eventually released.[7] Romero writes that "all were of Mexican ancestry or Latino" and that there is no record of any white person being detained in the raid.[7]


The lawsuits arising from the civil rights violations caused by the operation led to costly settlements.[3][8] Police chief Bobby Joe Harris was reprimanded for the manner in which the raid was conducted, and the incident led to a recall bid against the mayor of Chandler and two city council members.[9]

Related cases[edit]

Arizona SB1070, a 2010 law requiring local law-enforcement officers to check the documentation of suspected illegal aliens, has been compared to the Chandler Roundup by critics who predict that the new law will lead to similar civil rights violations.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Navarrette, Ruben (June 29, 2001), "Immigrant roundup defines Arizona politics", Dallas Morning News.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Roundup scars are slow to heal", East Valley Tribune, October 15, 2006[permanent dead link].
  3. ^ a b c Welch, Dennis (April 14, 2008), "Hispanics in Chandler fear another 'Roundup'", East Valley Tribune, archived from the original on August 29, 2008.
  4. ^ State and local authority to enforce immigration law: evaluating a unified approach for stopping terrorists : hearing before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Citizenship of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred Eighth Congress, second session, S. hrg, 108-570, U.S. G.P.O., 2004, p. 105.
  5. ^ Raid violated civil rights of Hispanics, report says, Associated Press, November 26, 1997.
  6. ^ Romero, Mary; Serag, Marwah (2004), "Violation of Latino civil rights resulting from INS and local police's use of race, culture and class profiling: the case of the Chandler Roundup in Arizona", Clev. St. L. Rev., 52: 75.
  7. ^ a b c d Romero, Mary (2006), "Racial Profiling and Immigration Law Enforcement: Rounding Up of Usual Suspects in the Latino Community", Critical Sociology, 32 (2–3): 447–473, doi:10.1163/156916306777835376.
  8. ^ Johnson, Kevin R. (2007), Opening the floodgates: why America needs to rethink its borders and immigration laws, NYU Press, p. 110, ISBN 978-0-8147-4286-0.
  9. ^ "Arizona boomtown trips up on illegal immigrant sweep: Legal residents were also singled out because of their Hispanic appearance", Los Angeles Times, December 1998, As reprinted in Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
  10. ^ Boehnke, Megan (April 28, 2010), "Arizona immigration law revives memories of 1997 Chandler roundup", Arizona Republic.
  11. ^ Gorman, Anna (June 6, 2010), "Arizona immigration law a reminder of town's past", Los Angeles Times.