Arpaio Worries that ABC News Stunt at Tucson Restaurant Hurts Image of Arizona and Cops -- As if His Anti-Immigrant Sweeps Don't


Our blog post yesterday about the ABC News "investigation" in Tucson brought up some of the same concerns that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio mentioned in a letter today to the national news outlet.

Even if the teeth of SB 1070 hadn't been pulled by a federal judge, it's unlikely that law officers in Arizona would have conducted themselves like the actor playing a bigoted security guard.

But it's hypocrtical for Arpaio to complain that this episode hurts the image of Arizona and police. This is the sheriff who instructs his deputies to prowl the streets of Hispanic neighborhoods like Guadalupe and pull people over for the slightest infraction. The goal is to find illegal immigrants, so Arpaio has his deputies check the immigration status of drivers who are stopped for merely honking their horn or having a cracked windshield.

As we've reported, his deputies -- before they had their immigration powers revoked -- would occasionally end up responsible for the deportation of people who hadn't done a thing wrong. For instance, in 2008, Arpaio's office arrested two men who had been merely sitting in the back of trucks, doing nothing illegal. The men were deported after being taken to jail. 

Arpaio says in his letter that if he had proof that a deputy did anything like the guard in the ABC News show, he'd have the deputy "severely disciplined" and probably fired.

On the other hand, stopping a work truck for a minor violation, then arresting a person in the back seat who'd done nothing wrong and sitting back as that man is deported -- that's fine with Arpaio.



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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.