Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Photo: Gage Skidmore)
Barack Obama has unloaded a blast of criticism at a sheriff who authorized a team of volunteer officers to investigate whether the birth documentation released by the White House as proof of Obama's eligibility to hold the office is valid or forged.
But the law enforcement officer, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, simply turned Obama's words into a promotion for his own record of law enforcement for his campaign for the office of sheriff.
"I took an oath to defend the Constitution of both the United States and the state of Arizona," says a new promotion for Arpaio's campaign. "So, no 'investigation,' no president, no protesters, and no death threats will keep me from doing the job I was elected to do."
The attack from Obama came during a round-table discussion where Latino beat reporters asked him a variety of questions.
Gabriel Lerner, of AOL Latino and HuffPost Latino Voice, reading a question from a listener, asked, "What happened to the investigation of the many violations and challenges to the federal government by Sheriff Joe Arpaio."
See the exchange:
Obama responded that his Justice Department challenged Arizona's immigration law "backed by Arpaio," because "we thought that there was a danger that naturalized citizens – individuals with Latino surnames – potentially could be vulnerable to questioning."
He warned that, "The laws could be potentially abused in ways that were not fair to Latino citizens."
Arpaio then said, "He’s a lawyer; he is pretty sharp to avoid direct questions. … He made some comments talking about people being stopped because of their name. He didn't like the 1070 law, he connects me with 1070. And my answer is: I am just doing my job, and I arrest everyone that violates the law, and I am not going to stop.
The 1070 argument was over a state law approved by the legislature and signed by the governor that would have opened new doors for law enforcement to investigate and deter illegal immigration into Arizona. Obama's Justice Department sued to overturn the law and the dispute remains pending.
Obama's Justice Department also targeted Arpaio for investigation on allegations of civil rights violations for allegedly discriminating against Hispanics, even though the sheriff's office confirmed it had given the federal agency thousands of pages of documentation on the topic, as well as access to its institutions.
Arpaio said he resented the president's suggestions that his office engaged in racial profiling, and promptly turned Obama's statement into a campaign ad.
"The president's new immigration policy and his comments about me, relating to the three-year-old DOJ investigation of alleged racial profiling, will not deter my stance on enforcing ALL state and federal immigration laws including crime suppression, human smuggling, identity theft investigations and raids in the work place," he said.
His emailed ad included the video of Obama comments.
According to USA Today, Arpaio followed the response from Obama with word that his deputies had conducted the 51st employer sanction/illegal immigration operation at a motel in Phoenix.
The report said 10 of the 18 workers at the hotel were found to be using false information to gain employment.
In his campaign ad, Arpaio explains, "Besides mentioning his Justice Department's politically motivated investigation against me, Obama talks about how he is challenging Arizona's law in court because it could be 'potentially abused in ways that were not fair to Latino citizens in Arizona.'
"By saying, '...the law that the sheriff supports...,' he cleverly insinuates that I am targeting Hispanics in Arizona just because of their last name. This is an outright deceptive and sleazy scare-tactic on behalf of Obama.
"I will continue to enforce the Arizona law, best known as SB1070, including other state and federal laws against illegal immigration. The president of the United States should thank me for that, not make reckless accusations."
On his website, he continued, "Because I have led the fight in Arizona against illegal immigration, I have become the target of attack by special interest groups and left-wing politicians who would rather turn a blind eye towards the crisis of illegal immigration.
"All I am doing is enforcing the laws of this state and our country.
"What these extremists really want is a sheriff who will look the other way, be silent and allow the charade to continue, while ignoring the laws of our land. That, I promise, will never happen," he said.
It was only weeks ago that Arpaio stunned most of the mainstream press reporters who have been ignoring the dispute over Obama's eligibility since before his election by announcing a "Cold Case Posse" with the authority to probe the authenticity of Obama's purported birth certificate.
The investigation was begun after citizens of Maricopa County told the sheriff they felt their "voting rights would be compromised" if a candidate was on the ballot who was not legally qualified to be there.
Sheriff Arpaio recently appeared on an Arizona television station to stand by his actions probing Obama's alleged birth certificate, which can be seen here: