This weekend, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. I had the ability to hear his thoughts on the border crisis, his experience in Arizona and his thoughts on the standoff in Murrieta between Murrieta residents and the feds.
BB: Thank you for meeting with me. I appreciate it. I wanted to start off by asking, how did you become an outspoken advocate for the enforcement of immigration laws and against illegal immigration?
Sheriff: I’ve been sheriff going on 22 years. I’m an advocate for all types of crimes. I became involved with the illegal immigration problem more or less when they passed two state laws: human smuggling called [Arizona] Employer Sanctions. The US employs illegal immigrants, 99% of which have fake IDs and are from another country. At the time, ICE swore in a 160 of my officers and gave them authority to act as immigration officers. We call that 287G, a local program. I had a lot of resources to enforce illegal immigration and I did. I’m probably the only sheriff to really enforce the human smuggling world, where we arrest the guy in the truck, plus all of the people he was smuggling in. That’s how I got involved in 2007. 2008, Obama took office. 100 days after he took office, he went after me through his homeland security. They [Obama and Former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano] started investigations against me and my office in 2008 and it’s still going on. They’re still doing it. That’s how I got started. I do a lot of other things. I run jails, I arrest people for any crime. I had special authority at the time to have my deputies authorized to enforce the immigration law. So that’s what I did. Then they took it [authorization] away and I still did it my way. And of course, now we have court decisions, recent ones, and lawsuits still going on. It’s been six years and I’m still around Phoenix. It [SB1070] became high profile. It’s been 7 years. And that’s why they passed these state laws to get involved, to not rely on the feds.
BB: I actually went to Northern Arizona University so I was in Arizona at the height of SB1070 going on.
Sheriff: So you know it well.
BB: In your opinion, why do you think it was so controversial amongst people within the state? I was up in Flagstaff where there were people who were building coalitions against it, saying it was inhumane or racial.
Sheriff: I think a lot of it, especially with certain groups, thought it would be racial profiling. A lot of businesses may not have liked it because a lot of them were hiring cheap labor. The media made a big thing over it. Not just here, but it made national news. We were kind of a leader on all of this. The Chamber of Commerce worried about conventions being cancelled.
BB: A lot of economic concerns.
Sheriff: A lot of hype and propaganda. Then other states started picking up on it and the Supreme Court got involved. Now it’s back in the news again with all of these kids coming over.