The U.S. Justice Department finally filed a long list of charges against Joe Arpaio. The Maricopa County sheriff is the face of the excesses resulting from Arizona’s SB 1070, the humiliating and discriminatory way in which Latinos are treated, and even financial irregularities. However, given all that, candidates who are desperate to use anti-immigrant rhetoric in order to win still seek Arpaio’s endorsement.
The figure of Arpaio, for good or evil, had gone beyond the borders of his jurisdiction thanks to his hard-line policies regarding prisoners. It became even more radicalized in his eagerness to persecute undocumented immigrants, doing away with civil rights and sanity.
The federal lawsuit details specific cases of discrimination and various instances of abuse of power against Latinos in and out of prison. It also charges him with intimidation and retaliation against perceived enemies such as judges, attorneys, activists and anyone opposing his authoritarianism.
Faced with the charges, Arpaio is now wrapping himself in the flag of defending his office from alleged federal government interference. This argument disregards a series of inappropriate actions that have already cost his taxpayers $6 million.
Arpaio’s ongoing defiant attitude clamored for strong action from the federal government, which has been delaying the case in trying to fruitlessly negotiate with Arpaio. The lawsuit has finally become reality.
Ideally, Maricopa’s voters and taxpayers should be the ones who in the next election replace Arpaio with a sheriff who doesn’t behave like a criminal who violates federal laws. But until the last election, the current sheriff had the support of the majority.
Voters are free to elect someone who has been accused of committing crimes. However, their decision doesn’t legalize what is clearly unlawful or protect Arpaio from having the Justice Department file serious charges against his office.
Politicians who are still spending money to obtain Arpaio’s endorsement should already know how stupid it is to associate themselves with someone who in addition to behaving unlawfully against Latinos, is under investigation for misspending funds and is now pushing the absurd theory that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States.
We think the U.S. Supreme Court who is reviewing the constitutionality of SB 1070 should take into account the charges against Arpaio, who truly represents the implementation of this law.