RALEIGH, N.C. -- An attorney for a North Carolina sheriff accused of illegally arresting Latinos without probable cause to boost deportations says the lawman isn't interested in a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department.
Attorney S.C. Kitchen told government lawyers Wednesday that Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson hasn't done wrong and his deputies don't discriminate.
The development sets up the potential for the federal government to sue the county.
Johnson has supported a federal program that allowed local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of those they detain. The Department of Homeland Security announced this year it was discontinuing the program after widespread complaints of racial profiling.
The Justice Department said last week that Johnson abused his authority by ordering his deputies to find reasons to arrest motorists who appeared Latino.
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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Sheriff Terry Johnson (R), of Alamance County, N.C., participates in a discussion on immigration October 12, 2011 in Washington, DC. The Center for Immigration Studies and the House Immigration Reform Caucus hosted the discussion with law enforcement agencies from local municipalities dealing with crime problems that are direct result from failure to control the border, and from lax enforcement of immigration laws. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Alamance County Sheriff Terry S. Johnson stands to the side as his attorney, Chuck Kitchens, speaks to reporters Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Graham, N.C. A two-year investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice has found that Johnson and his deputies routinely discriminated against Latinos by making unwarranted arrests with the intent of maximizing deportations. In a report issued Tuesday, the federal agency said Johnson and his deputies violated the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens and legal residents by illegally targeting, stopping, detaining and arresting Latinos without probable cause. Johnson told reporters at a news conference that the report's findings are baseless and that "the Obama administration has decided to wage war on local law enforcement." (AP Photo/Burlington Times-News, Scott Muthersbaugh)
Chuck Kitchens, attorney for Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson, speaks during a news conference in Graham, N.C. Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012. A two-year investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice has found that Johnson and his deputies routinely discriminated against Latinos by making unwarranted arrests with the intent of maximizing deportations. In a report issued Tuesday, the federal agency said Johnson and his deputies violated the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens and legal residents by illegally targeting, stopping, detaining and arresting Latinos without probable cause. Johnson told reporters at a news conference that the report's findings are baseless and that "the Obama administration has decided to wage war on local law enforcement." (AP Photo/Burlington Times-News, Scott Muthersbaugh)
FILE - In this April 3, 2012 file photo, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio listens to one of his attorneys during a news conference in Phoenix. Arpaio is expected to take the witness stand Tuesday, July 24, 2012, and face allegations that his trademark immigration sweeps amounted to racial profiling against Hispanics. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
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United States Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, left, who heads up the civil rights division at the Department of Justice, is joined by Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Roy Austin, as Perez announces a federal civil lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio during a news conference Thursday, May 10, 2012, in Phoenix. The move came after months of negotiations failed to yield an agreement to settle allegations that his department racially profiled Latinos in his trademark immigration patrols. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
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A mass of protesters demonstrate against
A mass of protesters demonstrate against Arizona's tough new immigration laws at a large rally in Phoenix on May 29, 2010. Rights groups had already announced plans to file a legal challenge to the law, which makes it a state crime to lack proper immigration papers and requires police to determine whether people were in the country legally. Activists say the law will open the door to racial profiling by police, but supporters point to wording of the bill that expressly forbids law enforcement from stopping someone on the basis of their ethnicity. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has said the law, which has attracted broad support according to recent opinion polls, is needed to help secure the state's porous border, one of the main entry points for illegal immigrants in the US. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)