America’s “toughest sheriff” may get an easy ride for his own crime with help from a presidential pardon.
Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt late last month for disobeying a judge’s order to stop his immigration round ups looking for undocumented workers.
Arpaio’s hard-line stance made him an ally of the President during the 2016 campaign, and Trump hinted in an interview that he could repay the 85-year-old.
“I am seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio,” he told Fox News on Sunday.
“He has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration. He’s a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him.”
Arpaio was kicked out of office last fall after voters in the Phoenix era tired of his antics and legal troubles.
The longtime Arizona lawman admitted to keeping up with his immigration patrols after a 2011 federal court order to stop them, but said at trial that he did not understand the restrictions.
The ACLU, which took the sheriff to civil court over his immigration policies, said that a pardon “would be literally pardoning Joe Arpaio’s flagrant violation of federal court orders that prohibited the illegal detention of Latinos.”
“He would undo a conviction secured by his own career attorneys at the Justice Department. Make no mistake: This would be an official presidential endorsement of racism,” Deputy Legal Director Cecillia Wang said in a statement.
Long before he came into the national spotlight for his views on immigration and Arizona’s controversial SB 1070, Arpaio had been criticized for policies such as making male inmates wear pink underwear.
Amnesty International condemned his practice of making inmates sleep in outside tents, where temperatures during the summer regularly reach more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
New Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone closed the ”tent city” jail shortly after coming into office.