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America's toughest sheriff says he's no 'whipping boy' for Justice Department

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 17th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Called by some as "America's toughest Sheriff" Joe Arpaio called a scathing U.S. Justice Department report about his office's tactics against Latinos marks "a sad day for America as a whole." Arpaio declared at a news conference in response to the report, "Don't come here and use me as the whipping boy for a national and international problem."

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Arpaio denounced the report as a politically motivated attack by the Obama administration that will make Arizona unsafe.

The report claims that Arpaio's office carried out a blatant pattern of discrimination against Latinos.

The report stated that Arpaio's office held a "systematic disregard" for the Constitution amid a series of immigration crackdowns that have turned the lawman into a prominent national political figure.

The Department of Homeland Security cut off ties this week with the Maricopa County sheriff's office that allowed trained deputies to enforce immigration laws. Homeland Security also will restrict the sheriff's office use of the Secure Communities program, which uses fingerprints collected in local jails to identify illegal immigrants.

"Illegal criminal offenders will go undetected and be dumped back out on the street near you, and for that you can thank your federal government," Arpaio said.

A senior Department of Homeland Security official maintains that any criminal offender found to be in the country illegally will still be detained, just not in the Maricopa County Jail. Those individuals will now be held in federal facilities and not released back into the public.

Arpaio faces a January 4 deadline for saying whether he wants to work out an agreement with the Justice Department to make changes ending discrimination. If not, the federal government will sue him, possibly putting in jeopardy millions of dollars in federal funding for Maricopa County.

"We are going to cooperate the best we can. And if they are not happy, I guess they can carry out their threat and go to federal court," Arpaio said.

Joe Arpaio of Phoenix, Arizona is the most famous sheriff in America. He's best known for his tough policies against illegal immigrants and the no-nonsense way he runs the county jail.

First voted into office in 1992, Arpaio is responsible for law enforcement in Maricopa County. This includes management of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, county jail, courtroom security, prisoner transport, service of warrants, and service of process. Arpaio styles himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff." He is well known for his outspoken stance against illegal immigration. Arpaio has become a flashpoint for controversy surrounding Arizona's SB1070 anti-illegal immigration act.

Arpaio was once widely popular among voters in Arizona. However, his popularity has waned since 2007, but remains positive among many Republicans and conservatives.
 

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