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President Trump Pardons Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio

President Trump Pardons Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Few of President Donald Trump's actions have touched a nerve among Latinos across the political spectrum in the United States quite like his pardon of Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who was found guilty of criminal contempt after defying a federal judge's order to stop targeting Latinos based exclusively on suspicion of their immigration status.

Arpaio was the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, from 1993 to 2016, when he lost a bid for re-election to Democrat Paul Penzone.

The pardon is a clear play to Trump's core supporters, who regard Arpaio as a hero for his repeated defiance of court orders, law enforcement norms, and the constitutional rights of detainees in his jurisdiction. This would have involved an FBI background investigation on Arpaio and could have taken months or even years.

Arpaio has a long, checkered history as sheriff in Arizona, as noted by the Phoenix New Times on Friday. "I think he's going to be just fine, OK?"

Despite Trump's praise, critics have said Arpaio's persecution of illegal immigration promoted racial profiling. "Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon".

"After all these years, 55 years in law enforcement around the world, and here I am on the defense table because they want to get rid of me, certain people", he said.

He had admitted to inadvertently disobeying the court order but said his behaviour did not meet a criminal standard.

Known as "America's Toughest Sheriffs" he had yet to be sentenced but was facing up to six months in jail. Trump asked the crowd.

"Sheriff Joe Arpaoi targeted and terrorized Latino families because of the color of their skin", the statement continues.

Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo called the pardon a "travesty" on Friday and said the former sheriff's illegal behavior is expected to cost taxpayers $92million by next summer.

Beyond his stances on immigration, the Maricopa County sheriff has also faced criticism for policies he implemented in more than two decades in office, including condemnation from human rights groups for putting inmates in a "tent city" jail during sweltering Arizona summers.

Trump also tweeted about the pardon on Friday night. The 85-year-old sheriff was found guilty in July of ignoring a court order prohibiting him from detaining people based exclusively on suspicions about their immigration status.

Polling earlier this week indicated that half of Arizona residents opposed a pardon for Arpaio, with only 15% of those 54 and younger saying it was a good idea.

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