Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio tells Newsmax.TV that Monday’s unanimous Supreme Court decision upholding a key provision of his state’s tough immigration law won’t change day-to-day enforcement efforts, but he called the Obama administration’s plan to ignore calls from Grand Canyon State Police “arrogant.”
Published reports quoting unnamed Obama administration officials indicate that the federal government is suspending agreements with Arizona police over the enforcement of federal immigration laws, and that the Homeland Security Department has been told to decline many of the calls it receives from Arizona police over illegal immigrants.
“I don’t like to use the word arrogant, but it looks like they’re somewhat arrogant,” snapped the Maricopa County sheriff in an exclusive interview on Monday. “They took me to court last month — federal court, after a 31/2 year investigation stating that we systemically racial profile.”
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Arpaio, who didn’t immediately know what effect if any Monday’s ruling would have on the Justice Department action against him, said he predicted the Obama administration might try to essentially circumvent the Supreme Court ruling and “I’m not too happy with this,” he acknowledged.
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“What good is officers under the Supreme Court ruling to stop people on crimes — and then determine if they’re here illegally working with ICE — if the federal government will not take them off the law enforcement’s hands? So I have a concern about that, but I have a few strategies in mind if that happens with my organization,” he said. “But it doesn’t surprise me.”
The high court unanimously upheld the most controversial aspect of Arizona’s tough immigration law requiring police officers to check the immigration status of people they stop in an opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.
But in a split decision, the justices also ruled that the three other challenged provisions went too far in intruding on federal law, including one provision that makes it a crime for illegal immigrants to work, and another that requires them to carry their documents.
“I’m glad they protected one section, but on the other hand we’ve been doing this — my office — for four or five years — enforcing the state laws,” Arpaio explained. “It’s not going to make much of a difference with us — how we do business, fighting illegal immigration.”
Arpaio promotes himself as “America’s toughest sheriff.” He has limited county inmates to two meals a day, banned “sexually explicit material” in prison, reinstituted chain gangs, and set up a “tent city” as an extension of the Maricopa County Jail.
“People will say it’s a victory for the federal government because of three other issues that were dismissed, but I think this is important to reaffirm what we’ve been doing for all these years,” he said of the Supreme Court ruling.
He also said he wasn’t surprised that the high court voted unanimously to uphold the requirement for police officers to check the immigration status of people they stop.
“I’m going to keep doing what we’ve been doing. Nothing changes,” he assured, acknowledging that the ruling will not stop future lawsuits.
“They sue me. They harass me. They call me every name in the book. They demonstrate against me — [Rev. Al] Sharpton. I can go on and on. They’ve been doing that for years against me — just because I’m doing my job,” he said. “So I’m sure it’s going to continue. They’re going to find other reasons now with this Supreme Court ruling to go after me. But that’s OK.”
Arpaio became sheriff of Maricopa County — Arizona's largest, which centers on Phoenix — in 1993. He has been re-elected five times and is up before voters again in November.
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He insists that his agency has already undergone intensive training to avoid racial profiling, a potential concern raised by Justice Kennedy.
“When you look at training, we probably have the best trained agency in the country because ICE has trained 100 of my deputies and 100 of my officers in the jail for five-week training,” he said. “Who else can say that?”
Even so, he fears that the ultimate end game of the Obama administration is to grant amnesty to illegal aliens.
“What I’m concerned about that this is just a road to amnesty,” he declared. “This is the ultimate goal of the White House, so we have to watch that, and see how that progresses —and every little step they’re taking. One by one, they’re chipping away — all geared to have amnesty.”
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