Dubbed America’s “toughest” sheriff, Joe Arpaio built a reputation for being hard on illegal immigration during six terms as the chief law-enforcement officer of Maricopa County, Arizona.
For one thing, he ran jails like, well, jails. He fed inmates two meals daily; banned Playboy magazine; broadcast classical music, opera and Frank Sinatra hits; set up a tent city in the desert heat; instituted volunteer chain gangs; and issued pink underwear.
He was attacked for his enforcement of immigration law, and President Obama’s Justice Department sued, accusing him of unlawful discriminatory police conduct. A federal judge, described by his wife as intent on removing Arpaio from office, ruled the sheriff in contempt of court for refusing an order to stop profiling Latinos.
His court battles continue.
But he said in an interview with WND that President Trump is on the right track with his simple determination to enforce the immigration laws already are on the books.
“I support him and he keeps his promise about illegal immigration,” Arpaio told WND. “I think he did a big thing [saying] when they come across someone who’s here illegally, they’re going to be deported.
“I’m very proud of our president.”
Arpaio unsuccessfully sought a seventh term as sheriff when the left contributed millions of dollars to fund his opponent, Paul Penzone, who took office Jan. 1, 2017.
Penzone immediately adopted new policies and rules. Among the changes: The county will no longer keep illegal aliens locked up while federal authorities begin deportation proceedings.
Penzone confirmed federal officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement can remain in his facilities, but inmates will be released.
ICE officials called the move “an immediate, dangerous change.”
The federal agency warned: “The recent announcement by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office entails an immediate, dangerous change, reversing the long-standing practice of honoring immigration detainers. Instead, MCSO has implemented a policy which will undoubtedly result in dangerous criminal aliens being released to the street to re-victimize the innocent citizens of that community.”
At the time, Enrique Lucero, ICE field office director, said, “Immigration detainers have been a successful enforcement tool to prevent the release of dangerous criminals to our streets and mitigate the possibility of future crimes being committed against the residents of our communities.”
The problem was illustrated recently in Denver, where an illegal alien allegedly robbed and killed a man soon after he was released by authorities.
Trump’s administration this week announced it no longer will “exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”
Unlike the Obama administration, which refused to fully enforce the nation’s immigration laws, Trump’s administration says it will prioritize removal of aliens according to several standards, including whether they’ve committed crimes.
The priority will be on those who have been convicted or have been charged with a crime, have engaged in “fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter before a governmental agency” and have abused “any program related to receipt of public benefits.”
If Trump maintains the current direction, Arpaio told WND, “Things will change in this country.”
But Arpaio said he won’t comment on Penzone’s performance.
“I’m not talking about our new sheriff,” he said.
Mexican officials already have erupted over Trump’s stance on immigration.
Reuters reported Mexican officials said they would refuse to accept illegal aliens sent back to Mexico.
The very idea, Mexican official Roberto Campa told the agency, was “hostile.”
During the 2016 president race, Arpaio said the Hispanic community is “good people,” but those who come into the U.S. illegally must be dealt with according to the law.