Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the controversial top cop in Maricopa County, Ariz., tells Newsmax he will jail any protesters who attempt to block his jail on Thursday when provisions of his state’s tough new immigration law take effect.
Arpaio also says it’s “great” if undocumented aliens react to the new law and his strict anti-illegal immigration agenda by moving back to Mexico or to the “sanctuary state” of California, and challenges President Barack Obama to invite him to the White House for a “wine summit” to discuss illegal immigration.
Arpaio, whose county includes most of the Phoenix metropolitan area, promotes himself as “America’s toughest sheriff.” He has limited county inmates to two meals a day, banned “sexually explicit material” in prison, reinstituted chain gangs, and set up a “tent city” as an extension of the Maricopa County Jail.
On Wednesday a judge blocked the most controversial sections of Arizona's new law and put them on hold. The law will still take effect on Thursday, but without some of the provisions that angered opponents — including sections that required officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws.
Nevertheless there are reports that opponents of the new law plan to block Arpaio’s jail on Thursday in an act of civil disobedience.
“There’s a rumor that they’re going to block our jails down the street,” Arpaio says in an exclusive Newsmax interview.
“You know what? They’re not going to block our jails. They’re going into the jail if they block our jail. I’m not going to succumb to these demonstrators keeping law enforcement from booking people in our jail. So we may have to take some action.”
Arpaio also vows to conduct a “crime suppression operation” on Thursday.
“This morning we raided another business and arrested five more illegal aliens with false identification. On Thursday we’re going to do our 17th crime suppression operation and go out with our volunteer posse and deputy sheriffs and catch criminals. We’ve done 16. Just by chance about two-thirds [of those arrested] happen to be here illegally.
“People say, why are you doing it on the day that the law may be put in effect? Well, should I wait? We’ve been enforcing the other state immigration laws and we’re still the only ones doing it. We’re going to continue doing our job.”
Arpaio was asked about concerns that the federal government will refuse to cooperate with a handoff of illegal aliens to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency after they are apprehended in Arizona.
“There’s been some rumbles that maybe ICE will not take the illegal aliens off the hands of law enforcement,” he responds.
“So we may have a little problem, but not that big, because most of the time we arrest illegal aliens we have them on another charge and we book them into our jail.
“After people do their time and we have them deported, if [ICE doesn’t] accept many of those people who are going to be deported, the only alternative is that they may be released on the street.
“So let’s see what the federal government does. I know they’re not happy with this new law. They’re not happy with me, because I had 100 deputies trained by Homeland Security, trained to work on the streets and function as federal officers, but they took that away when the new administration took office.”
There have been media reports that with the law taking effect, many Hispanics are moving out of Phoenix this weekend — as evidenced by a recent increase in yard sales to dispose of items before they move. Arpaio calls that “hype” and said “they have garage sales every week. Go into any Hispanic neighborhood and they’re having garage sales.
“But a lot of them are moving out. I’d like to take a little credit for that, because they’re accusing me of breaking up families, they’re accusing me because people don’t want to go to church, they don’t want to go to school because they worry about the sheriff coming in and arresting people that are here illegally.
“Consequently many people have moved out. Of course they don’t all go to Mexico. They go to the sanctuary state called California and other states where they don’t care about illegal immigration. But many of them are moving out, moving back to their home country. That’s great. Now let [them] get the proper paperwork and come into this country legally.”
The sheriff of neighboring Pinal County has invited President Obama to come to Arizona for a first-hand look at the illegal immigration problem.
“Why would he go to Pinal County?” Arpaio says.
“We’re bigger than all counties put together. We’ve locked up 40,000 people. Why doesn’t he come to Maricopa County to talk to the sheriff that he himself doesn’t like?”
Arpaio also scoffs at the notion that Obama should come to the Mexican border to observe the situation there.
“What is this, symbolic? He knows where the border is. Of course I spent 14 years at the border as the head of federal drug enforcement [in Arizona]. No one’s invited me, including Republicans, U.S. senators. No one has asked me my opinion as to what I would do if I was president.
“But that’s O.K. I’m not concerned about that. I know what we are doing.
But to say the president should take a tour of the border — I think he knows. He watches television. He talks to [Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano. I think he knows where the Mexican-U.S. border is.
“So just to say let him come down, for the president [to get] in a Jeep along with a little show of all the politicians and going to the border, that’s not going to solve any problems.
“Now I do realize that he did invite the Cambridge police sergeant in Massachusetts who arrested the college professor, and racial profiling was thrown in there. So he invited both of them to the White House [for the so-called beer summit]. They had a little beer.
“So why doesn’t he invite me to the White House? I’m accused of racial profiling and I have all those years experience. Why doesn’t he invite me to the White House? We’ll have a little wine and throw a little basketball. I’m from Springfield [Mass., birthplace of basketball] so I think I’ll beat him. But I’m not holding my breath.”