Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who was convicted for contempt of court earlier this month, has found an ally in Donald Trump.
“I am seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio. He has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration,” Trump told Fox News on Sunday. “He’s a great American patriot, and I hate to see what has happened to him.”
Arpaio faces up to six months in jail if Trump doesn’t pardon him. The former Maricopa County sheriff used his position to turn local police into a “full fledged anti-illegal immigration agency,” prosecutors said.
In 2011, a judge ordered Arpaio to put an end to the racist policy of detaining people on the suspicion that they were undocumented — usually because of the color of their skin, and even if they hadn’t been arrested or charged with a crime. Arpaio continued this policy for 17 months after the judge’s order, prompting the case.
“Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe? He has protected people from crimes and saved lives. He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way,” Trump told Fox.
Trump says Arpaio is a patriot; Arpaio thinks of himself as “America’s toughest sheriff.” Arpaio, who was elected sheriff in 1993 and served until his unsuccessful bid for re-election in 2016, is responsible for the deaths and abuse of hundreds of people who have passed through his jails over the years.