Maricopa Country Sheriff Joe Arpaio is insisting that he “saved” a 6-year-old girl, who he believes was brought to the country illegally, by arresting her.
The Arizona Republic reported last week that the controversial Arizona sheriff’s office had arrested the 6-year-old and 15 other people on the very day that President Barack Obama announced a new policy halting the deportations of many young immigrants.
On Sunday, Fox News host Geraldo Rivera asked Arpaio if he arrested the girl because he wanted to “stick it to the president.”
“I don’t think I did a Fast and Furious in reverse and arranged these 15 smugglers with a girl that is unaccompanied — nobody knows who she is, where she’s from — into the United States of Amerca,” Arpaio quipped. “I enforce the illegal immigration laws every day, Geraldo. So, that made a coincidence.”
“I should be thanked by that congresswoman that you just had on for saving this girl,” the sheriff added. “That’s what they should be doing, these activists that don’t like me enforcing the illegal immigration laws, including the president who mentioned me several months ago on the 1070 [anti-immigrant law] and what I’m doing.”
Arpaio also promised to continue arresting young immigrants regardless of the president’s new immigration policy.
“I will continue to arrest illegal aliens that violate the state laws of this state. So, nothing will change,” he explained. “If we come across them again and they are in violation of any state law, they’re going to be arrested are put in jail in my jails, and I presume if they’re turned by over to the [federal] immigration, nothing will happen. So, that’s the system we have right now.”
Over the weekend, thousands of demonstrators had gathered in Phoenix to protest Maricopa County’s “tent city,” where inmates are forced to wear pink and live in canvas tents.
For his part, Arpaio defended the un-air conditioned tents by saying that the military also uses tents in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It 130 [degrees] here,” he told Rivera. “Do they have air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan for our troops?”
“Yes,” Rivera pointed out. “In the tents, they do have air conditioning. I haven’t been in an un-air conditioned tent in 10 years. Don’t you think that’s inhumane, sheriff?”
“No, why?” Arpaio replied. “I had a half a million people come through those tents. And they survived the weather and controversy. It’s a good program, saved millions and millions of dollars.”
The United States Supreme Court on Monday gutted (PDF) most of Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 immigration law, but upheld that police could be required to inquire about immigration status when they stop suspects.
Watch this video from Fox News’ Geraldo at Large, broadcast June 24, 2012.