WASHINGTON – Almost exactly 24 hours after the Supreme Court partially struck down an Arizona law questioned for its constitutionality, the sheriff in that state who bills himself as the “toughest in America” said enforcement techniques that have caught the attention of the White House will not change.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County in Arizona told WTOP Tuesday his department has never employed techniques the Supreme Court found unconstitutional on Monday, including allowing police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants and making it a state criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to hold a job.
The court upheld the “show me your papers requirement” of SB 1070, the Arizona law requiring police to check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons and whom they suspect of being in the country illegally. Critics, including President Barack Obama, say the law could lead to racial profiling.
“This doesn’t really change anything,” Arpaio tells WTOP of the ruling. “I did support this bill…on the other hand we’re going to continue doing what we’ve been doing.”
“These other sections we’ve never done anyway,” he says. “It doesn’t interfere with our operations.”
The sheriff expressed his concern about Immigration and Customs Enforcement policies that might not facilitate deporting someone caught by local police forces who is in the U.S. illegally. He hinted that these policies, along with a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit against him for alleged racial profiling, are a part of election-year politics to re-elect Obama, an outspoken critic of the sheriff’s tactics.
He also has made headlines for creating a “Tent City” to house inmates outside. The facility, which he describes as a “concentration camp,” has been met with protesters camped outside decrying what they say are human rights violations. Temperatures in that part of Arizona regularly exceed 100 degrees.
“I’m an elected sheriff. I’m going to keep doing my job. I’m going to keep enforcing illegal immigration laws,” he says. “Nothing is going to change.”
Learn more about Arpaio’s brand of law enforcement by listening to the full audio at right.
WTOP’s Paul D. Shinkman contributed to this report. Follow Paul and WTOP on Twitter.