Joe Arpaio has been the sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona for 20 years, and is not quite ready to retire. Last Thursday Sheriff Arapio announced his intention to run for a 6th term after briefly considering a run for the US Senate when the seat was vacated by the Republican Senator Jon Kyl. Arapio said that, “there is still much to be done as sheriff.”
Toughest Lawman in These Here Parts
Sheriff Joe, as he is usually referred to, is the “toughest lawman in the United States,” by his own declaration. He is able to
finance his campaign with $6 million worth of funding, promising to “continue to protect the citizens of Maricopa County by enforcing all the laws.”
Those laws include an immigration law which has gotten him in some hot water with the US Justice Department in Washington, DC.
Honor to Serve Despite Criticism
“It is an honor and a privilege to serve as sheriff of Maricopa County,” said the embattled 79-year-old Sheriff Joe. He said that he will continue to serve as sheriff by “unapologetically enforcing the rule of law and being tough on crime,” despite recent criticism of him and some “brazen political stunts” by those who are constantly muddying his name.
Tough on Illegals
Arpaio has indeed been enforcing the law, perhaps overly forcefully, which recently has gotten him into trouble with the US Justice Department, especially for the way he has handled the issue of illegal immigrants. Last month the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department accused the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in a biting report, of disregarding federal law and the Constitution of the United States when dealing with Hispanics who are arrested and incarcerated.
The head of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Assistant Attorney General Thomas E Perez said at a news conference held on December 15th that the outcome of their three-year long civil investigation showed that the sheriff, along with his deputies, behaved in ways that violate the US Constitution and federal law which “jeopardized his commitment to fair and effective” enforcement of the law.
Justice Ties Sheriff’s Hands
As a result of this investigation Homeland Security removed the deputies’ and Sheriff Arpaio’s right to judge whether those held in jail were in the US illegally or not, and they were no longer allowed to use a federal fingerprint program to ID illegal immigrants.
January 18 is the date which the sheriff’s office is expected to respond to the Justice Department report. There is also a separate federal grand jury which is continuing to investigate the sheriff’s office.
Obama Politically Motivated
Sheriff Arpaio strongly attacked the results of the inquiry, saying that it was motivated by politics. He said that the Obama administration, if it continues down this road, will make Arizona an unsafe place if he can no longer exercise his authority to keep illegal immigrants off the streets.
“Don’t come here and use me as the whipping boy for a national and international problem,” he said. “We are going to cooperate the best we can. And if they are not happy, I guess they can carry out their threat and go to federal court.”