Claude Cartaginese

Bring us Your Poor, Your Tired, Your Huddled, Illegal Masses…

Posted on October 9 2009 6:30 am
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Joe Arpaio, known as “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” is very good at what he does. Sheriff Arpaio has been in charge of the Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff’s Office (the third largest Sheriff’s Office in the country), since 1993. He has been re-elected an unprecedented five times, and has earned high approval ratings from local citizens. “The public is my boss,” he says, “so I serve the public.”

There are over 10,000 inmates under Arpaio’s jurisdiction, and he has had some novel approaches as to how they should be treated. For example, Arpaio established the nation’s largest “Tent City” for inmates, which houses thousands. He re-instituted the chain gang system (including the world’s first-ever female chain gang), where inmates cleaned streets, whitewashed over graffiti, and maintained public parks and cemeteries — their free labor saving taxpayers thousands of dollars annually.

Arpaio’s inmates are not permitted to smoke, drink coffee, or watch movies or unrestricted TV. They are fed meals costing an average of 35 cents apiece, just twice a day. He even removed salt and pepper from the menu, saving taxpayers $20,000 a year. The male inmates all wear pink underwear and socks, sleep on pink sheets, and use pink towels. When they go out to work, they wear the old-style black and white striped uniform (which clashes nicely with the pink shirts and socks).


Arpaio has instituted a very successful anti-substance-abuse program and runs an accredited high school in the prison system whereby inmates can earn their diplomas. Not surprisingly, the rate of recidivism in Maricopa County is much lower than in other counties with similar population densities.

In 2007 Sheriff Arpaio signed on to an agreement with Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security, whereby the federal government authorized local law-enforcement officials to receive powers, under section 282(g) of the Immigration and Nationalization Act, to enforce federal immigration laws. In typical fashion, Sheriff Arpaio did a very good job. Perhaps too good, as currently over 33% of the inmates housed in Sheriff Arpaio’s facilities are illegal aliens (who, as a group, account for more than 53% of violent crimes in Maricopa County).

And so, predictably, he is now in trouble with the administration of President Barack Obama–which has a soft spot for illegal aliens. As Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! program reports:

…the Obama administration has announced it’s curbing the powers of an Arizona sheriff who’s faced widespread accusations of racial profiling and discriminately enforcing federal immigration laws. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will no longer have the authority to arrest people suspected of being undocumented immigrants. Maricopa County deputies will now only be allowed to determine immigration status when a prisoner has been jailed. Despite the new restrictions, Arpaio is vowing to continue pursuing undocumented workers under his authority as an elected sheriff.

Goodman’s report failed to note one important thing: What Sheriff Arpaio has aptly demonstrated, actually, is that the powers bestowed upon him under section 282(g) have been extremely effective in making the streets of Maricopa County safer. Thousands of illegal aliens apprehended for other crimes have been identified and subsequently deported.

So why is it then, that instead of being thanked for his success, Sheriff Arpaio is being punished?

Ask the Sheriff, and he’ll tell you unhesitatingly:

“It’s all politics.”

Why else would the Obama administration work so hard to strip him and other local law-enforcement officials of a very effective means of apprehending illegal aliens?

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