Will Trump Pardon Joe Arpaio? The Sheriff Was Convicted For His Crimes Against Immigrants
While much of America anxiously followed the clash of white supremacists and counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, President Donald Trump said he may pardon former sheriff Joe Arpaio. During his 24-year career as sheriff in Arizona, Arpaio earned a reputation as "America's toughest sheriff," but he was found guilty of misdemeanor contempt of court during a July hearing for violating a 2011 order in a racial profiling case. He's 85 years old and could serve up to six months in jail, unless Trump decides to use his first Presidential pardon for his freedom.
Trump told Fox News on Sunday that Arpaio "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.” However, in 2011 he was ordered by a judge to halt traffic stops targeting immigrants, and just recently was convicted of ignoring that order.
Arpaio has a history of controversial practices. He instituted what became known as "Tent City" in Arizona, in which inmates were forced to live in old military tents in the desert even when temperatures reached 100 degrees and wear striped jumpsuits with pink underwear. They also used pink towels and sheets.
Arpaio supported Trump during his presidential race, emphasizing their shared commitment to protecting the U.S. border. According to Politico, Arpaio also provided security for Trump's rallies.
Also like Trump, Arpaio advanced the birther debate that former President Barack Obama wasn't actually born in America. In fact, in 2011 he claimed that after six months, his investigators found "probable cause exists indicating that forgery and fraud may have been committed," in regards to Obama's birth certificate. In November, Arpaio lost his election in Arizona for sheriff to former Phoenix police sergeant Paul Penzone.
Of Arpaio, Trump also said, “Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration then Sheriff Joe? He has protected people from crimes and saved lives. He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way."
Currently, Arpaio is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 5. According to Fox News, because of his age and prior criminal record, it's unlikely that Arpaio will actually serve any time for his conviction. But Trump could still decide to pardon him before his hearing as a symbolic gesture that communicates his disagreement with the sentencing. Arpaio told reporters that he would accept Trump's pardon if ultimately offered, but would not ask for a pardon from Trump if it would cause conflict.