Joe Arpaio needs no fanfare as he leaves the stage of American politics. He was a bigot, an inexhaustible hater of Latino immigrants. He was cruel, housing the men and women he detained in inhumane conditions in his Arizona realm. He acted in disregard of the law, openly showing contempt for the courts and the Constitution. His humiliating loss in the Arizona Republican Senate Primary on Tuesday left him third in a three-person field of candidates.
Joe Arpaio went out a loser. Donald Trump rescued him from legal liability last year by pardoning him, but the presidential amnesty was not enough to convince some of the most conservative voters in the nation to send him to the Senate. It was nice to read on the front page of Arizona’s leading newspaper that Arpaio’s campaign was in “chaos” and even better to see that Arpaio himself describe his campaign as “stagnant.”
While Joe Arpaio is broken, his approach to immigration enforcement is still rampant in the Trump White House. The keys to “Arpaioism” were to:
- Have local law enforcement function as an auxiliary of ICE
- Break the bonds of trust between police and immigrant communities
- Ignore the Constitutional prohibitions of the unlawful search and arrest of immigrants
- Carry out operations against immigrants in ways that maximize the fear that their communities experience
- Justify arrests by claiming that the detainees pose a threat to the safety of Americans
- Milk political advantage from all of the above
These have become the principles upon which Donald Trump’s immigration enforcement initiatives are based, and there is plenty of evidence that the president learned them from Arpaio. He spoke of Arpaio frequently during his campaign and met with him to seek his blessing. Trump has long admired and supported the former Maricopa sheriff.
Way back in 2012, Donald Trump tweeted out his approval of Joe Arpaio’s “Cold Case Posse” investigation into whether Barack Obama was born in Kenya. He spoke several times about Arpaio as a “hero” and a leader in immigration enforcement. He may also have appreciated Arpaio’s willingness to use his law enforcement resources to investigate the sheriff’s political opponents.