I’ve been a fan of Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio since the days when I published small town newspapers in the Grand Canyon State years ago. In a time when political correctness and ignoring the law whenever it’s not convenient or might embarrass somebody seems to be the rule of the day, Sheriff Arpaio is a dinosaur who believes that the law is black and white, and enforces it, regardless of whose toes he steps on in the process.
You’ve probably heard of Tent City, the outdoor jail Sheriff Arpaio built to house inmates. When critics claimed that the living conditions were inhumane, the Sheriff replied that if living in tents was okay for our nation’s soldiers, it was okay for jail inmates too, and refused to back down.
The Sheriff believes that jail is not supposed to be a place to kick back and relax as criminals take a break from their regular routines of drug dealing, robbing citizens, and preying on the weak, and he doesn’t do much to make it comfortable. Cigarettes and skin magazines are banned from the jail, only certain television programs are allowed, Arpaio serves inmates green baloney, and reports that he spends more to feed his guard dogs than he does inmates. Arpaio also puts prisoners to work on chain gangs, cleaning up trash and cutting brush along highways.
That may sound harsh to the do gooders out there, but the citizens of Maricopa County obviously appreciate his work, since Arpaio has been reelected to his office ever since pinning on the Sheriff’s badge in 1992.
Of course, anyone this brazen is sure to have many enemies too, and ever since he was first elected, they have been lining up trying to get rid of him. But the tenacious sheriff, a veteran of 25 years with the Drug Enforcement Administration, refuses to back down.
The Sheriff is a strong advocate of enforcing immigration laws. Responding to complaints that police in Maricopa County engage in racial profiling by arresting Hispanics for minor crimes, in order to check their immigration status, last year the Department of Homeland Security took away Sheriff Arpaio’s power to arrest illegal immigrants. Huh? Since when should a law enforcement officer not be allowed to arrest lawbreakers? Only in today’s America, my friends.
But Arpaio knows how to fight fire with fire. Under an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office checks the immigration status of people booked into the jail by sheriff’s deputies, as well as other area police departments. Arpaio said his office has turned over 31,214 people who were in the country illegally to ICE.
This Saturday, anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 protestors from several states, organized by immigrant-rights advocates, are expected to take part in a demonstration against the Sheriff’s dedication to enforcing the law. Among them will be singer Linda Ronstadt, who should probably stick to singing, or else stick her microphone where the sun doesn’t shine.
The demonstration in Phoenix is part of several events planned nationwide, aimed at putting pressure on the government to stop arresting and deporting illegal immigrants as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration that began under the Bush administration.
I don’t know how the bureaucrats in Washington will react, but Sheriff Arpaio is taking it in stride, just like he does every attack on his methods. He said that people coming from out of state to join in the protest can “save their gas,” because instead of backing off from arresting illegal immigrants, he plans to increase his immigration enforcement. He plans to initiate a new program this month that will put even more resources into immigration law enforcement.
Treating criminals like criminals? Making jail a place you don’t want to go back to? Enforcing the law? What a concept! Every county in America should have a sheriff like Joe Arpaio. Let the criminal element and the bleeding heart idiots whine all they want, all I have to say is Way To Go, Sheriff Joe!
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