Joe Arpaio Pardoned, but Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin Still Fight for Immigrant Rights


Ordinarily, Presidents of the United States wait until a significant amount of time has passed before they exercise their constitutional right to pardon individuals. President Donald Trump chose not to follow this unspoken rule, but what he has done cannot be considered to be unusual because his entire presidency has been extraordinary. The 45th President of the United States has shocked Americans once again by pardoning former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of a crime for which he has been convicted. Mr. Arpaio would have been sentenced on a criminal contempt conviction on October 5, but he will remain a free man even though prosecutors proved that he was engaging in racial profiling.

In the last days of August of this year, President Trump issued the pardon, but he had hinted that he would do just that while attending a campaign rally a couple of weeks before in Phoenix, Arizona. It appears that the people of Phoenix are not necessarily big fans of Mr. Arpaio because they didn’t re-elect him as Sheriff in the last election. As if the pardon wasn’t enough for Mr. Arpaio’s detractors, a statement was released from the White House that complimented the ex-Sheriff. In the statement, Mr. Arpaio was recognized as someone who shielded Americans from the deleterious effects of criminal behavior and illegal immigration. Right after the announcement, Mr. Arpaio went on Twitter to thank the President. He also complained that the conviction was a “political witch hunt.”

The outcry against this pardon came from opponents of the President and the ex-Sheriff right away. Some people stated that President Trump needed to first consult with the Justice Department before he could issue such a pardon. Since he did not do this, they say that the pardon isn’t valid. As a rule, other Presidents have sought the counsel of the Justice Department before they announced that a pardon would be granted, but they were not required to do so. The Justice Department saw the need to defend President Trump and stated that the President had done what he is authorized to do under the Constitution of the United States.

Joe Arpaio served as the Sheriff of Maricopa County for 24 years. He gave himself the nickname “America’s Toughest Sheriff” and was seen as a contentious leader for a long time, but the pardon is about a 2011 ruling on racial profiling by Mr. Arpaio’s office. In December of 2011, the ex-Sheriff and his staff were ordered to cease detaining Latino drivers through a preliminary injunction issued by Judge G. Murray Snow. The injunction’s language was unmistakable, but the ex-Sheriff and his subordinates violated the order for a year and a half.

In court statements, the ex-Sheriff and his subordinates did not state that they violated the order outright, but they did claim that they violated the terms because the order was ambiguous. Faulty communication with regard to the order’s terms was the reason it was repeatedly violated. According to Judge Snow, Sheriff Arpaio’s entire office was determined to continue the practice of racial profiling. Therefore, the Sheriff was found to be in contempt of court in May of 2013. On July 31, 2017, District Judge Susan Bolton determined that ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio was guilty of civil contempt because he had failed to follow the order. She stated officially that ex-Sheriff Arpaio “willfully violated the order” and did not ensure that it was obeyed by his subordinates.

Two weeks after his conviction, the 85-year-old Sheriff lost his re-election bid for Sheriff of Maricopa County. After the conviction, he was subject to receive a jail sentence as well as a fine. A hearing was scheduled for October 5, but President Donald Trump stepped in and prevented that from happening. The abundance of evidence demonstrating that ex-Sheriff Arpaio and his staff were engaged in racial profiling caused several groups to decry the pardon.

President Donald Trump and ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio share a positive history together, so no one should be surprised that the President pardoned Mr. Arpaio. In the early days of Donald Trump’s campaign, Sheriff Joe Arpaio expressed his approval of the presidential candidate. Several years before that, Sheriff Joe Arpaio supported Donald Trump when he questioned whether or not President Barack Obama had been born in the United States. Since the “birther movement” was seen as racist, many people started to suspect Sheriff Arpaio of being a racist back then. The questions that Sheriff Arpaio asked about President Obama’s birth are exactly the reason that he came to be known to the rest of the country. Since Mr. Arpaio supported Trump at that time, it is understandable that President Trump would return the favor and support Mr. Arpaio now.

Some people have said that Mr. Arpaio’s bark is worse than his bite, but they are not paying attention to the event that led to the creation of the Frontera Fund. Several exposes about the sheriff’s office were being printed in the Phoenix New Times. Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey from the Phoenix New Times’ owner Village Voice Media supported those exposes that were shining a light on the sheriff’s office and its transgressions. These violations included unhealthy conditions in the county’s jails, ill treatment and deaths of inmates and racial profiling.

About Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin

On October 18, 2007, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were arrested and booked into separate jails managed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The reason for the arrests was the fact that they disregarded subpoenas that requested personal information on the paper’s readers, editors and writers, but they were released in a matter of hours. In 2012, the court determined that the Sheriff’s office had overstepped its boundaries by detaining Mr. Lacey and Mr. Larkin, and they were awarded $3.7 million in a settlement.

Mr. Lacey and Mr. Larkin decided to start the Frontera Fund with the money they received in the settlement. The purpose of this fund is to raise money for organizations that support the Hispanic community, and they plan to continue to be advocates for every human being’s civil rights into the future.

Learn more about the foundation:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here