Things That Matter

Arizona’s Notorious Anti-Immigrant Sheriff Is Facing Criminal Contempt Charges

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is potentially facing up to six months in prison for misdemeanor criminal contempt charges. His crime? Keeping America safe… by violating the civil rights of innocent citizens and then refusing to stop when a court ordered him to. Arpaio’s methods of keeping the peace involve everything from humiliation tactics – like making prisoners wear pink underwear and socks – all the way to straight up spit-in-the-face-of-the-constitution level racial profiling. After being ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow in 2011 to stop policing policies that involved rights violations, like pulling people over for being brown, Joe Arpaio declared, “I’m not stopping anything.”

Arpaio’s refusal to stop is now costing Arizona’s tax payers millions of dollars, while Arpaio continues to rake in in donations from donors.

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CREDIT: REAL SHERIFF JOE / YOUTUBE

Joe Arpaio released a statement concerning the timing of the criminal case hearing, only a month before Maricopa elections, saying:

“First and foremost, it is clear that the corrupt Obama Justice Department is trying to influence my re-election as Sheriff of Maricopa County. It is no coincidence that this announcement comes 28 days before the election and the day before early voting starts. It is a blatant abuse of power and the people of Maricopa County should be as outraged as I am.”

If anyone knows a thing about abusing their power to unfairly target people, it’s gotta be Joe Arpaio. And probably the only people who understand his kind of outrage are those who were victimized by his years of racial profiling. If found guilty, Joe could be barred from running for sheriff and end up serving jail time, where he may end up with a pair of pink socks of his own.

READ: A Judge Told Him To Stop Racially Profiling Latinos. He Refused. Now He Might Go To Jail

Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Anti-Immigrant Legacy May Have United Arizona Latinxs

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Anti-Immigrant Legacy May Have United Arizona Latinxs

Ross Franklin / Getty

Joe Arpaio touted himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff” largely because of his anti-immigrant policies. His strategy worked, Arpaio would become a nationally recognized figure as his xenophobia found him “investigating” President Barack Obama’s birth certificate and supporting Arizona’s SB 1070 in 2010, a set of the country’s most draconian immigration laws which were eventually struck down by the Supreme Court. 

Eventually, Arpaio would be charged with criminal contempt of court, following several federal civil rights lawsuits. Only to be pardoned by Trump. In 2016, Arpaio was unseated by Democrat Paul Penzone. 

Today journalist Fernanda Santos writes, in Politico, there is a new wave of Latinx activists who have emerged in response to Arpaio’s policies. And they’re running for elected office.

Arizona Latinxs are fed up with the anti-immigrant policies. Now they want a seat at the table. 

“This is about stepping into the electoral space and saying, ‘Hey, not only can we put pressure from the outside, but we can infiltrate these systems and do something radically different,’” Lane Santa Cruz told Politico. “It sounds very subversive, but it is not. This is the way through the front door.” 
Tucson City Councilwoman Santa Cruz is one of many newly elected Latinxs in Arizona. Her seat was previously held by Regina Romero, a daughter of Mexican immigrants, who was elected Tucson’s first Latina mayor on Tuesday. 
Many Latinx advocates and organizers were elected in the past 10 months, which could be signaling a new Latinx wave in Arizona that could fundamentally transform the state’s politics.
Raquel Terán, a civic organizer, was elected into the state House of Representatives, Betty Guardado a former housekeeper was elected to the Phoenix City Council and Carlos Garcia, an immigration advocate, was elected to the city council. 

Arizona has not been too kind to its Latinx residents.

History shows Latinxs have always been forced to be at odds with their white Arizona counterparts. 

“Latinos, however, have long struggled for equal access and equal rights in Arizona. Their resistance took shape in the labor unions that opposed legislation in 1914 threatening to ban non-English speakers from working in mines, and then a dual-wage system that paid Mexicans less for doing the same work as Anglos,” Santos writes. 

Joe Arpaio, who has been the subject to multiple federal civil lawsuits, was federally barred from doing “immigration round-ups,” was found to have unfairly targeted Latinxs, and who the U.S. Department of Justice said oversaw the most egregious pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history, among numerous other crimes during his 1993-2017 stint as sheriff, appeared to be an extension of this Arizona history. 

Joe Arpaio’s insidious history with immigrants. 

Arpaio decided to take on illegal immigration in the early 2000s ushering him onto the national stage. 

“Arpaio’s deputies started arresting hundreds of illegal immigrants, after entering into a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security. The sheriff’s office blew through its budget on immigration efforts while violent crimes, including sex crimes, went uninvestigated,” according to the Washington Post. 

In 2010, SB 1070 took effect, while most provisions were struck down by the Supreme Court, one which allowed police officers of anyone they believed might be undocumented remained in effect until 2016

In 2011, the Justice Department found that Arpaio’s sheriff’s office systematically profiled Latinxs. In 2013, a U.S. district judge determined the same thing and ordered Arpaio to stop detaining people on the basis of racial profiling. In 2017, he was charged with criminal contempt of court for continuing to detain people. Months later, President Trump pardoned him. 

Arizona Latinxs continue to mobilize and fight back.

Just as often Arizona Latinxs are undermined, they have mobilized against racist efforts. Successfully beating segregation in the schools three years before the Supreme Court decided on the matter, and organizing young Latinxs against discriminatory practices like an absence of bilingual classes and overcrowding.

Garcia was born in Cananea Mexico and was undocumented until he was 14. He founded and ran Puente Human Rights Movement, an immigrant’s rights group. But like many of the advocates who have just been elected, Garcia wants to push things further. Five of his family members have been deported since 2009. 

“I got left with no options. And that’s what has pushed someone like me to actually run for office,” he said.  

As the Arpaios of the world made life increasingly difficult for Arizona immigrants, they fought back with increasing resolve.

“What really woke us up as a community were the anti-immigrant laws here in Arizona, and it was Arpaio, and it was Jan Brewer, and it was those anti-immigrant policies that they were pushing—that’s what took us to the streets,” says Romero. “But we also realized that if we wanted to change the systems that have oppressed us, we had to do it from the inside. We had to change the faces of these policymakers in Arizona.”

He Was Convicted Of Racial Profiling But Now America’s ‘Toughest Sheriff’ Is Running For His Old Job

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He Was Convicted Of Racial Profiling But Now America’s ‘Toughest Sheriff’ Is Running For His Old Job

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America,” Joe Arpaio, is trying to make his comeback two years after he was pardoned by President Trump for illegal racial profiling of Latinos. 

Former Maricopa County Sheriff, failed U.S. Senate candidate, and habitual abuser of power Joe Arpaio announced he will run to regain his old office in 2020.

Former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio on Sunday announced he would seek another term as sheriff of Maricopa County, two years after President Donald Trump pardoned him. He had been convicted on charges of criminal contempt related to the hard-line tactics he used to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

“After consultation and approval from my wife of 61 years, Ava, I have decided to run to be reelected sheriff,” Arpaio said in a news release Sunday. “Watch out world! We are back!”

“I will continue to stand and fight to do the right thing for Arizona and America, and will never surrender,” he said. “Those who break the law will have to deal with this Sheriff.”

Arpaio and his posse of deputies became famous for illegal and racist policies targeting Latinos.

Arpaio was notorious for using large-scale sweeps of Latino neighborhoods and traffic stops of Latino drivers to round up illegal immigrants. The sweeps drained resources from his department and were abhorred by civil liberties advocates and immigration groups, but they brought the publicity-seeking sheriff to national attention.

In a statement accompanying his tweet, Arpaio said he would reopen his tent city jail and resume immigration enforcement.

“I will continue to stand and fight to do the right thing for Arizona and America, and will never surrender,” Arpaio said in the statement. “Those who break the law will have to deal with this Sheriff.”

Arpaio was first elected sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, in 1993 and held the office until he was defeated in 2016. He styled himself as “the toughest sheriff in America” and became known for his “tent city” jail, where inmates wearing old-timey striped uniforms were held in tents in the brutal desert heat.

In a tweet, Arpaio said he already had the backing of “thousands.”

“Thousands want me to run for Sheriff,” Arpaio, 87, announced in a tweet Sunday. “Ready for bruising, bitter campaign. Never back down.”

Following several lawsuits, Arpaio was convicted of unlawful policing techniques and faced six months in prison.

In 2011, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division released a report finding that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office “engages in racial profiling of Latinos; unlawfully stops, detains, and arrests Latinos; and unlawfully retaliates against individuals who complain about or criticize MCSO’s policies or practices.” 

For the next five years, Arpaio continued to flout orders by federal judges to improve the conditions inside his jails and cease the unconstitutional racial profiling of Latinos, leading to him being found guilty of both civil and criminal contempt of court in 2017.

Arpaio was also a vocal Trump supporter, and a month after his conviction, Trump returned the favor and pardoned Arpaio.

In fact, Joe Arpaio was one of the first politicians to step forward to support the campaign of then-candidate Trump. Arpaio is also a committed birther.

His “Cold Case Posse,” conducted in partnership with the far-right website WorldNetDaily, spent much of the Obama administration “investigating” the authenticity of the president’s birth certificate.

Reactions on Twitter have been overwhelmingly negative.

Even people in his home state don’t want anything to do with Arpaio. 

Many in his home state are still upset because they’re on the hook as taxpayers paying for his illegal activities.

In 2014, a report noted in Reason that Arpaio’s office “has also been guilty of a litany of shenanigans, including stealing documents from a defense attorney, arresting critical journalists, spying on political opponents—and maintaining such lousy jail conditions that they violate inmates’ rights.”

In 2016, after years of scandals and millions upon millions of dollars in lawsuit settlements, voters replaced Arpaio with a Democrat candidate. Let’s hope they make the right decision in 2020.