Granting pardons is one of the unique powers the US Constitution grants to the President. So far, President Trump has not issued any presidential pardons. However, he is now considering the case of a well-known public figure, whose pardon would draw great attention.
Joe Arpaio of Arizona, who Fox News reports has long held the moniker “America’s toughest sheriff,” was recently found guilty of criminal contempt by a US District Judge over his actions against illegal immigration. President Trump is considering issuing a pardon to the 85-year-old “Sheriff Joe.”
Arpaio’s case has been a much-publicized one, owing to the fact that he has been highly revered in conservative circles for years. The Arizona lawman served as Sheriff of Maricopa County for 24 years, from 1993 to 2016.
Throughout his tenure at the head of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Arpaio was known for using severe measures to combat crime and castigate criminals. His work drew him both immense praise and bitter criticism.
One of his most-publicized acts involved making inmates wear pink underwear while staying in desert tent camps–where temperatures exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit. On another occasion, he temporarily reinstated chain gangs.
Such actions made Arpaio popular with the political Right, which tends to favor a tough law-and-order stance on crime. The Maricopa County Sheriff gained greater notoriety in the political world in recent years for his strict positions on unlawful immigration.
As ABC News reports, Arpaio began cracking down on undocumented immigrants in 2005, claiming to have arrested 30,000 in total. Ironically, Arpaio’s efforts to curb the breaking of federal immigration law earned him an investigation by the US Justice Department under Barack Obama.
But in 2007, a group of Latinos filed a lawsuit asserting that Arpaio’s methods amounted to racial discrimination, as noted by CNN. A US district judge issued an injunction blocking Arpaio’s office from detaining people based on their immigration status alone.
Now, Arpaio has been found guilty of criminal contempt for continuing to detain undocumented immigrants even after the federal court ordered him to stop doing so. Arpaio’s legal team argues that the Arizona Sheriff should have been given a trial by jury instead of by bench trial (a trial by a single judge). Whether the 85-year-old Arpaio will face jail time is unclear.
President Trump is considering issuing a pardon to the 85-year-old Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Should he?
Arpaio and the President have had a friendly political relationship since Trump entered the 2016 presidential race. Arpaio gave Trump his endorsement. Although the New York billionaire eventually won the election against Hillary Clinton, Arpaio ended up losing his election to Democrat Paul Penzone, the New York Times reported.
The President has not made a final decision, but has expressed a strong desire to pardon Arpaio. He stated: “I am seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio. He 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.”
Trump also asked, “Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe?” If President Trump decides to help Arpaio, his first presidential pardon would certainly be a controversial one. The media would have a field day with that.