Today it was announced that President Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who lost his elected position in 2016, after holding it for 26 years. This also came after he was convicted of defying a court order that in pursuing practices of racial profiling in law enforcement, during which time he violated the fourth amendment, which states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The Washington Post article states: “President Trump has pardoned controversial former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of failing to follow a court order to end the practice of detaining people merely on the suspicion that they might not have legal status in the country. In a statement, Trump made no mention of Arpaio’s conviction, but praised his past military service. It is the first pardon of Trump’s presidency.”
Arpaio violated citizens’ constitutional rights and then received a Presidential pardon, after campaigning for Donald Trump when he was a candidate.
In 2010, a team of reporters and I traveled hundreds of miles throughout Arizona and Florida by car to get a, literally, on-the-ground look at American politics. Immigration was a major focus of our Arizona reporting, and Sheriff Arpaio was one of our key interviews. (We also spoke with people from the Colorado River Tea Party, immigration rights activists, and the sponsor of Arizona’s SB 1070.) In many ways, the era of Arpaio presaged candidate Trump’s focus on immigration, its ability to mobilize some political audiences, and certainly the pardon as a symbol of Trump’s focus on his base.
Here’s a link to the audio segments that made up our entire hour-long public radio documentary on Arizona.
Here’s a link to the segment containing my interview with Arpaio.
And following, a transcript of a key part of our conversation.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio: What keeps me going is when the people come up to me and say thank you, Sheriff. Thanks for what you’re doing. They call me racist and everything, but I know I’m not. I don’t care what they call me. In my heart, I know I’m not.
Chideya: If you were President Obama, what would you do about illegal immigration?
Arpaio: If I was the President, what I would do? I know how to solve the problem at the border. Nobody asks. Why don’t they ask me my opinion?
Chideya: Well, I’m asking you right now. So what would you do?
Arpaio: Thank you for asking me. You’re one of the few that will ask, including the media. Thank you for doing that.
I know where the border is. I’m the guy that spent all those years there. When we have a border, 2000 miles, we have violence across the border, let’s send our army across the border, to work with their army like I used to work with their army in Mexico.
Oh, that probably will never happen. But we send our armies to Iraq, Afghanistan, because of terrorism. I’m talking about bilateral now, not unilateral. Bilateral, which means we work together, they ask us.
Chideya: You would open up another front, essentially, along the border. Is that practical.
Arpaio: No. I wouldn’t even call it a war. I would call it a police action. <end, appx 10:30>
(Here’s a short video clip from our interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPh_BmytUq8)
I urge you to listen to the whole radio hour if you have time. We spoke with Sheriff Tony Estrada of Santa Cruz County, Arizona. He was the only Latino Sheriff in Arizona and had a very different take on the border than Sheriff Arpaio. We also spoke with members of the Tohono O’odham nation, whose tribal lands straddle the US and Mexico — an increasingly complex situation in our era.
Facts on U.S./Mexico relations abound. They’re in this documentary; and I’ve subsequently written about them, as have so many. But we are in an era where rhetoric has become weaponized. That era didn’t start yesterday… or even in 2010, when I conducted this interview with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Still, take a listen, and learn more about the big picture.