Devil's Advocate: Joe Arpaio, the Forgotten War
At approximately 3 a.m on August 8, 15-year-old Leonard Moreno walked home from a party drunk, high and armed. On his way, he encountered Jorge Vargas, a 27-year-old Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office jail guard.
Officer Vargas was in uniform working on his truck before an early shift when Leonard Moreno approached and shot him several times, leaving Vargas dead in his driveway. Later that morning, Moreno posted a picture of the gun used to kill Vargas captioned, "Did it once for fun. Don't make me do it again n be serious haa (; #RT”
Two days after Moreno murdered Vargas, he was arrested in a drive-by shooting. Prior to this, at 9-years-old Moreno was arrested for burglary, criminal damage, and criminal trespassing; in 2012, he was arrested on assault; in 2013, he faced drug charges. Subsequent the murder of Officer Vargas, Moreno’s mother was arrested for hindering the prosecution of her son.
Welcome to Maricopa County, the realm of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Joe is no saint, but Arpaio was a soldier on the forgotten frontier—America’s Southern Border. The Sheriff of Maricopa County from 1993 to 2017, Arpaio was a controversial figure made lightning rod, Sam Valk writes for the Cincinnati Republic,
In July of 2017, a federal court found Arpaio guilty of contempt of court for failing to comply with a federal court order on his policies using the county police force to target illegal immigrants in the jurisdiction. It was handed down in 2011. Arpaio insisted his actions were in compliance with federal law and continued to violate the court order.
In essence, Arpaio place himself in the crosshairs of the establishment by cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in detaining illegal immigrants for deportation. The court order was the product of a highly politicized ACLU and Obama DOJ lawsuit against Arpaio that began in 2007. That same year, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office released a report revealing illegal immigrants accounted for:
- 50 percent of those sentenced for crimes related to "chop shops"
- 35.8 percent of those sentenced for kidnapping
- 33.5 percent of those sentenced for the manufacture, sale or transport of drugs
- 20.3 percent of those sentenced for felony DUI
- 18.5 percent of those sentenced for property crimes
- 16.5 percent of those sentenced for violent crimes
These numbers are reflected nationally, despite illegal immigrants comprising only 3.5 percent of the population. Precluding local convictions or sentences, where most rape and murder cases would appear, 2014 federal sentencing data from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) revealed illegal immigrants accounted for 74.1 percent of drug possession cases, 20 percent of kidnapping and hostage taking, 16.8 percent of drug trafficking cases, 12.3 percent of money laundering, and 12 percent of murder convictions.
Combining legal and illegal aliens, along with extradited aliens and those with unknown status, accounts for 42 percent of all federal sentencing in 2014.
Like him or hate him, Arpaio was on the frontline of a very real war, one in which politicians have no skin, while law enforcement and communities of native-born and immigrant Americans suffer. In a July 7 interview, ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan told the Washington Examiner, "In the America I grew up in, cities didn't shield people who violated the law.”
On Friday, President Trump pardoned Arpaio, a move as contentious as it was divisive. On the one hand, there are those who have taken to writing the Hagiography of Joe the Hero, while others have demonized Arpaio as literally Hitler.
Perhaps worst of all are preening quasi-conservatives virtue signaling before cameras, as Sen. John McCain, the man who single-handedly consigned Americans to the exorbitant burden of Obamacare, has made it a point to do so. However, the standout was Sen. Jeff Flake.
Very virtuous, although Flake appears ignorant of the judicial peculiarities surrounding Arpaio’s prosecution.
Nearly a decade after the lawsuit was filed and five days before Election Day 2016, the Obama DOJ announced that Arpaio would be prosecuted for criminal contempt. In a bizarre ruling, the DOJ stated that maximum jail time for Arpaio if convicted would not exceed six months—this decision circumvented Arpaio’s Constitutional right to a trial by jury.
Arpaio’s subsequent request for a trial by jury was then declined, thus the DOJ ensured that Arpaio would face a federal judge, rather than a jury—for obvious reasons, this negatively impacted his bid for a seventh term as Sheriff of Maricopa County. It gets stranger yet.
The appointed judge, G. Murray Snow of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, failed to recuse himself even though it was revealed that his brother-in-law’s legal firm was representing the party suing Arpaio—a clear conflict of interest that negated impartiality in the case.
Of the trial, National Center for Police Defense (NCPD) President James Fotis told Breitbart News,
I sat through three days of testimony and it was clear from the beginning that the DOJ had no evidence to make their case. In fact, all of the DOJ’s witnesses made it clear that Judge Snow’s order was unclear and ambiguous. There is no way a jury would have determined that the Sheriff willfully and intentionally violated the judge’s order.
The NCPD received more than 40,000 signatures in support of Arpaio’s freedom, which Fotis delivered directly to the DOJ. Fotis told Breitbart News on the day he delivered the petitions,
We believe this is a miscarriage of justice. The charges should be dropped. Arpaio should be released and allowed to go off and have a decent retirement … he served in law enforcement for 50 years.
Despite a multitude of red flags surrounding the case that pointed to a clear lack of impartiality—if not an outright political hit job—and widespread support Arpaio received from law enforcement, the DOJ went ahead, and the president's decision to pardon Arpaio leaves us where we are today.
I was admittedly taken aback by Trump's from-the-hip decision to pardon Arpaio, I didn't know what to make of it amid the sea of scathing criticism that roiled in the aftermath. I was at my parent’s house when it happened, so naturally when I turned on the television, Univision came on—the Latino/Hispanic family favorite.
A reporter whose name I cannot remember was interviewing immigrants in Arizona after news of the pardon broke. Neither the reporter nor the interviewee spoke in English as throngs of demonstrators filled the background of the shot, waving Mexican flags on American soil in the name of La Raza—The Race. There is profound ignorance in making “For Our Race” the rally cry against perceived racial injustice.
I see Arpaio as a man who took a thankless position, doing awful work few would voluntarily, and for more than 50 years. Moreover, since when is standing by law enforcement pleasant? Americans wanted a president who stands by law enforcement and this is what it looks like—supporting those who soot their souls performing miserable and necessary work that keeps us safe.
However, there is a more profound question in the quandary of Arpaio.
If we are so outraged at the perceived injustices of men like Arpaio resorting to extremes, then why not secure our borders? It's a curiosity that politicians who claim to stand fast against discrimination turn a blind eye to exploitation of illegal immigrants as cheap labor.
To immigrants lawfully residing in America I say, don't support what you fled. You should know well of pandering, corrupt politicians and failed government policies which only serve to exploit. If you came here to pursue the American Dream, you should know that it dies when America becomes what you fled.
To Leftists crying injustice, where was your outrage when Obama released Ibrahim al-Qosi from Gitmo on guarantee that he would not go back to terrorism, only to have him resurface as a top Al-Qaeda leader urging Muslims to kill Americans? Not to mention 17 other Al-Qaeda operatives and the key ISIS leader Obama released.
I stand by the President's decision to support law enforcement in pardoning Arpaio. Mostly, I am grateful that we have a leader who is at last willing and able to face the war on America’s southern border.