Joe Arpaio, the controversial former sheriff from Arizona, announced this week that he will run for the U.S. Senate to help advance President Trump’s agenda.
But he’s breaking from the president on people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
“Deport them,” Arpaio told NPR’s Morning Edition in an interview airing Thursday morning.
“When we come across these kids, or some are older than just kids,” Arpaio said, “then deport them. You deport them back to the country they came from.”
Arpaio, 85, is someone who has devoted his career to cracking down on immigrants in the U.S. illegally and used highly controversial tactics toward that goal — sometimes in defiance of federal court orders. He instructed his deputies, for example, to detain Latino residents and ask them about their legal status. He then ignored a federal judge’s order to stop.
He was convicted of criminal contempt for that last year. But President Trump pardoned him.
The immigration firebrand’s entrance into the Arizona race could have far-reaching consequences for the party, as Arpaio’s views will likely receive an outsize megaphone. It will likely mean that immigration — and conservative hard-line views on the subject — will dominate a Republican primary in a state that is now almost a third Latino and in a country where Hispanics are gaining increasing clout politically nationally.
DACA recipients as ambassadors, like the Peace Corps?
Under President Obama, after the House did not pass the comprehensive immigration bill that garnered 68 votes in the Senate, immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children were allowed to stay in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, executive order.
Trump rescinded DACA last year and is letting it expire by March. Trump’s decision is now hung up in the courts, but he said this week that he wants a “bill of love” that allows the some 800,000 DACA recipients to stay. That, however, comes with conditions that Democrats don’t appear ready to accept, including funding for a wall along the Southern U.S. border.
Arpaio told NPR that DACA recipients should be sent back in this controversial way:
“They can do a lot of good in those countries. They have education here and help out and be good ambassadors from the United States to their country. That’s just my idea.”
He likened it to the Peace Corps and indicated he’d be open to them returning later to the United States legally.
“Should we deport all the people in Chicago?”
But asked about the risks many could face going back to dangerous countries, places some of these DACA recipients have never been or where they don’t speak the language, Arpaio pushed back.
“We have danger here, so should we deport all the people in Chicago with all the shooting and murder?” Arpaio asked. “If they want to get out and go to another country, should the other countries welcome them? I don’t think they would.”
He continued: “It’s unfortunate there’s problems in other countries, but that’s … you live in those other countries, you have to do something there whether it’s through the political system in those countries to try to alleviate the problem.
“We pumped a lot of money into these foreign countries — tons of money to help their security, law enforcement, and that’s OK, but you have to do it right.”
“Make sure you get the right people to come into our country”
Asked if he would close all of U.S. borders to migrants, Arpaio adamantly said no.
“Just make sure you get the right people to come into our country,” he contended, noting that his parents came from Italy. “I have a personal interest in that situation.”
Of course, when Arpaio’s parents came from Italy, there were far fewer restrictions, and immigration was most certainly not “merit-based.” Italians at the turn of the century and into the mid-20th Century, like people in other countries today, were escaping poverty, war and famine.
It wasn’t the doctor from Milan heading to America.
A history of controversy
In the 1990s, Arpaio controversially also set up an outdoor Tent City jail in the blistering Arizona sun. It was criticized as inhumane by activists, and his successor said there was no evidence it made people less likely to commit crimes.
It began to be torn down last year and was closed in October.
January 11, 20185:00 AM ET