Sheriff Arpaio: I'll Continue Enforcing Immigration Law

Tuesday, 21 Aug 2012 02:24 PM

By Kathleen Walter and Patrick Hobin

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Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio will continue to enforce the state's immigration laws despite the compassion he feels for young illegal immigrants who seek work and education, he told Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.

Gov. Jan Brewer last week ordered state agencies to deny driver’s licenses and public benefits to anyone protected from deportation under President Barack Obama's “deferred action” immigration policy.

Arpaio — sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix — called Brewer's executive order a “very complex, very controversial” move.

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“I do have compassion for the young people that want an education," he said. "On the other hand, I took an oath of office to enforce all the laws and now that overrides my compassion. So we have to enforce the laws…We have to enforce those illegal-immigration laws regardless of what the issue is.”

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Undocumented immigrants can apply for deferred status and a temporary work visa under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The program leaves Brewer “sort of caught in the middle here,” Arpiao said. "So we’ll see what happens, but I’m sure the governor is relying on the laws that were passed, and also the point that if you’re in this country illegally you should not receive any benefits.”

Arpaio and his office are on trial in a class-action lawsuit, accused of  targeting Latinos for questioning and detention. The Justice Department also has sued him for using discriminatory practices.

The man known as “America’s Toughest Sheriff” said he didn’t know how the Justice Department would react to Brewer’s move, but questioned the timing.

“The situation…happened 100 days after the president took office,” he said. “It’s been going on for what, 3 1/2 years? They finally decided to take me to federal court, accusing me and my deputies of racial profiling.

"So now this is occurring. To me it’s a backdoor to amnesty and also the big situation I look at, it’s a political year. All this seems to be happening during a political year and that’s sad, using kids and other issues relating to illegal immigration as a way to get elected.”

He denied that his office racially profiled Latinos.

“I said it from Day One: My deputies did not racial profile,” he said. “We’re doing our job… Maybe we’re doing too good of a job. That’s why everybody is zeroing on it. But I’m not overly concerned. Let’s see what happens, and we’re going to keep doing our job.”

Arpaio said Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was tough on illegal immigration in the primary, “and I still believe he is tough. He’s an honorable guy and I presume if he makes a promise that he’ll keep that, you know, if he becomes president,” he said.

Asked if he’s concerned the GOP’s tough immigration stance might hurt the party in this fall's election or his own chance for re-election, Arpaio said, “You know what? I’m doing my job. I’m not going to get Christmas cards from many immigration groups, but I’m just enforcing the state laws.

"We were enforcing the federal laws, acting as federal officials, until Obama took away my authority on the streets. … I expect to be re-elected for the sixth time, and got a lot of support across the nation. I raised $7.5 million, so evidently someone likes what I’m doing.”

Arpaio’s chief concern, though, is securing the border with Mexico.

“I get a little concerned about the hype about the border,” he said.” I was a regional director in Mexico City, Texas, Arizona with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, so I know a little about the border. We have to secure the border.

Editor's Note: Will Obama Be Defeated? Vote Here!

"But why do they then put the word out there, if you notice, once we secure the border then we’ll look at comprehensive immigration reform? Wait a minute. We should be enforcing the laws and the border and in the interior like I do.

“We arrest illegal aliens here in Maricopa County in workplaces, in smuggling,” he continued. “Every time we can come across that problem we take action. So everybody is avoiding the fact that the immigration laws should be enforced in the interior and not say, ‘Once we secure the border.’

"The border will never be 100 percent secure, so this is just another cop-out to not have to enforce the immigration laws in the interior of our country. That’s the way I look at it.”

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