Every now and then, I like to browse the newspapers from Arizona, the place I think of as “home” although I don’t live there now and didn’t grow up there.

Today I was shocked, but sadly not surprised, to find this item in the Tucson Citizen about the methods Sheriff Joe Arpaio is using to identify illegal immigrants in Maricopa County (where Phoenix is). Racial profiling, illegal searches and detainments, civil rights violations — these are all routine for Sheriff Joe and his deputies. It’s shameful.

Even my current local paper, The Washington Post, recognizes Sheriff Joe’s methods as an outrage. The articles mention the most recently filed suit against the Maricopa County Sheriff’s department, which could cost taxpayers millions — but Arapio has already cost Maricopa millions in various law suits, some of which were settled by the county, some of which went to court, but all of which betray a pattern of discrimination, harassment and macho-fear-mongering that the people of Maricopa could really do with out. But will they vote him out? Probably not — Sheriff Joe is absurdly popular, at least among white Phoenicians.

He’s got swagger and style and gruff charm, and he’s got pink prison undies, and he’s comforting to people who are afraid. And even more sadly, he seems to be laying the groundwork for a run for governor, including many events in Pima County (where Tucson is), the other large population area in the state.

Now that I think of it, I guess I’m glad I no longer live at home.

Posted on July 29th, 2008 by Katxena