Arizona Senator John McCain had some choice words for President Donald Trump over his decision to pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
On Friday, the Senator took to Twitter to denounce the president’s decision: “@POTUS’s pardon of Joe Arpaio, who illegally profiled Latinos, undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law.”
John McCain also released a statement on his government website expressing his contempt for Arpaio’s pardon. “No one is above the law and the individuals entrusted with the privilege of being sworn law officers should always seek to be beyond reproach in their commitment to fairly enforcing the laws they swore to uphold,” McCain wrote. He continued, “Mr. Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for continuing to illegally profile Latinos living in Arizona based on their perceived immigration status in violation of a judge’s orders.”
McCain acknowledged that the president has the authority to pardon Arpaio, but he also stated that doing so “undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law.”
Sheriff Arpaio was convicted of a contempt of courts charge due to his refusal to comply with a judge’s orders regarding his immigration patrols. As a staunch opponent of illegal immigration, the sheriff’s department was accused of conducting traffic stops on people who they suspected were in the country illegally.
The law states that police officers cannot make a traffic stop decisions based on suspicions related to a person’s immigrant status. An officer can only look into immigration matters if they suspect a different crime has been committed by the suspect. Arpaio was warned by the Justice Department but continued conducting his immigration patrols.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also took issue with Arpaio’s pardon. Cecilia Wang, one of the attorneys who pushed for the racial profiling case, states that Trump’s pardon amounts to “a presidential endorsement of racism.”
She went on to say that the president “has acted in support of illegal, failed immigration enforcement practices that target people of color and have been struck down by the courts.”
While McCain has criticized the president’s decision, other Arizona politicians have praised it. Governor Doug Ducey and Congressman Andy Biggs both welcomed the pardon. Ducey stated that the sheriff “deserves credit for helping to reduce crime in Maricopa County over his long career in law enforcement and public office.”
Biggs said, “America owes Sheriff Arpaio a debt of gratitude and not the injustice of a political witch hunt.” The congressman is not the only one who believes the case against Sheriff Arpaio was politically motivated. Fox News points out the fact that the Justice Department filed charges against Arpaio two weeks before the election.
Typically, the department does not take legal action against an elected official when an election date is close. This is done to avoid influencing the election. The fact that Arpaio lost his election gives some weight to to Fox News’ claim.
Senator McCain’s comments are indicative of the battle that still rages over the issue of illegal immigration. While Sheriff Arpaio may or may not have willingly broken the law, it is clear that Americans disagree on how immigration legislation should enforced. Either way, McCain is right, President Trump does have the authority to grant pardons — and he isn’t afraid to use it.