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Birds of a feather truly flock together.
Last week, the Department of Justice announced the results of their years-long investigation of Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio, saying Arpaio had “engage[d] in a pattern of unconstitutional policing” and practiced “a chronic culture of disregard for basic legal and constitutional obligations.” The Department of Homeland Security followed by revoking its remaining 287(g) agreement with Arpaio’s office, breaking off many means of local law enforcement / immigration enforcement coordination. The news was a huge step forward in the fight against the man we’ve repeatedly called the “Bull Connor” of the immigration world and a starting point to checking his excesses of power.
While immigration advocates and immigrant communities across the nation celebrated, however, members of the anti-immigrant crowd were quick to circle the wagons and align themselves with the wrong side of the law. Anti-immigrant “leader” Rep. Steve King (R-IA) released no less than a video proclaiming his steadfast support of the Sheriff, in which he denied that Arpaio could be involved in any unconstitutional profiling and accused the DOJ of playing a political game.
As King says in his video:
I think it’s a shame that the Department of Justice has targeted Sheriff Joe Arpaio. I’ve been to visit his operation, I’ve gone out to visit his tent city, I’ve seen what kind of job he does. He takes great pains to make sure that he doesn’t discriminate against people based on race. There is not a profiling operation going on down there that I can see.
King is not Arpaio’s only defender. Texas Governor Rick Perry, whom Arpaio had recently endorsed for the Republican presidential nomination (Rick, didn’t we tell you that one would only bring you trouble?) also suggested that the DOJ had an agenda:
As CBS News quotes Perry:
I would suggest to you that these people are out after Sheriff Joe. He is tough. And again, when I’m the president of the United States, you’re not going to see me going after states like Arizona or Alabama, suing sovereign states for making decisions.
Rounding out this trio of misguidedness is Arizona State Rep. John Kavanaugh (R), who is calling DOJ’s investigation a political “smear job” and “a sneak attack on Arpaio.”
In response, we have to ask: are we talking about the same Sheriff Joe Arpaio? Are these tough-on-crime Republicans really trying to defend a man who has been so obsessed with stamping out immigration that he’s allowed 400 sex crimes cases to go uninvestigated, who has seen violent crime rise 58% in his county while the rest of Arizona has seen a 12% decline, who has been accused of re-routing $100 million in taxpayer dollars so that he could fund his own anti-immigrant mania? Does Steve King know racial profiling when he sees it, or know that Arpaio once settled a racial profiling case (in which he zip-tied a legal permanent resident suffering from diabetes for three hours) for $200,000? Do Arpaio’s defenders want to read some of the facts first, before they make more videos?
What is it about illegal that Sheriff Arpaio’s defenders just don’t seem to understand?