The man who calls himself "the toughest sheriff in America" won his re-election bid yesterday. According to the LA Times.com, Joe Arpaio will begin serving a sixth term as Maricopa County Sheriff after capturing 53 percent of the county-wide vote. His opponent, Democrat Paul Penzone won 42 percent of the vote. The election was called in Arpaio's favor with about 82 percent of all precincts reporting last night.
The 80 year-old sheriff has been at the center of the debate over SB 1070, the controversial law that requires police to check the status of anyone they suspect is an illegal immigrant. The law has been a divisive issue between Arizona's Latino community and law enforcement agencies, as Latinos believe that they are unfairly targeted by police. Arpaio apparently does not see the potential for civil rights violations. Unfortunately, he only seems to see outrage. Yesterday, he said the following to the media:
"I would like to get together with the Latino community, but they scream at you and I just can't sit down" (with them). "We'll let them get their senses, we'll talk and I'll let them know what I do... I have to get back to the Latino community without them screaming and yelling and we can talk about it."
Arpaio's stance suggests that immigration checks will be a continual civil rights issue, as what exactly constitutes probable cause, and whether it is sufficient enough to check a person's immigration status. After all, does one's accent, clothing or skin color amount to probable cause, especially if they were simply speeding or happened to break a benign traffic law?
Only time will tell.
Source: LA Times.com, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, illegal immigration hardliner, reelected, November 7, 2012