Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Pardoning former sheriff Apraio sends a clear negative message


A little over a week ago, President Trump pardoned former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the man known for helping start the “Obama has a fake birth certificate” and, more importantly, the rampant racial profiling. For anyone that doesn’t know, Arpaio used his policing powers to harass minorities, which he considered the best method for finding and punishing undocumented immigrants. There’s a long list of reasons that people should not be hostile towards undocumented immigrants, but that’s separate topic.
Often, presidents will execute questionable pardons, but like many aspects of Trump’s presidency, this one was different.
We’ll start by looking at what Arpaio did to get in trouble in the first place.
Basically, Arpaio’s police force had found a man that they decided, without proof, was in the United States illegally. The man, who had a valid tourist visa, was detained for a long period of time (nine hours), and decided to sue the police department for profiling.
After losing the case in federal court, Arpaio’s orders were to stop trying to enforce “civil provisions of federal immigration law.” According to our laws, “illegal immigration” isn’t technically a crime and is actually considered a civil violation.
Then, our hero Arpaio (who will apparent violate civil rights to uphold the law) broke the law.
Those are the basic events that lead Arpaio to be charged with criminal contempt of court.
What that means, then, is that President Trump has found the perfect pardon to express his views. He found a man who had allowed his personal prejudices to bleed into our laws, and took away the judicial system’s ability to punish him for it.
There’s a list of things about this situation that should sound familiar.
One, President Trump flat-out  doesn’t care about minorities. With this pardon, he makes that clear. Arpaio was violating people’s civil rights, and Trump says that it’s ok.
Two, he is undermining the court’s ability to enforce anything. Arpaio was in trouble for criminal contempt of court because Arpaio was found to be actively disobeying what the federal courts had told him to do.
Trump has been furious at the judicial system since he took office, as courts (ones he was not aware of) knocked down his travel bans. He has no respect for any laws that he sees inconvenient, and probably enjoys being able to “get back at them” by taking away their power to punish Arpaio.
Lastly, President Trump is making it clear that anyone that stays on his good side can act without consequence. If you do anything that Trump doesn’t like, he’ll leave you for dead. Otherwise, break the law. Ignore the courts. Brag about your “concentration camps” (Arpaio did this as he referred to his “tent city” at a public event). Totally fine, no consequences.
For anyone annoyed right now, thinking that everyone is being unfair to President Trump, I want to be clear; we can agree that many presidents have made pardons that are simply wrong (President Bill Clinton, for example). But as with you often find with Trump, this one is different. Unfortunately it’s also worse.
President Trump is pardoning someone that never actually “paid” for their crimes. He is not pardoning someone that can be pointed to as “misunderstood”.
What he is doing is proving that he doesn’t care about stuff. “Stuff” being minorities. Stuff being justice and the law. He’s throwing a child’s tantrum and getting revenge on a system that doesn’t give him unfettered power.

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Pardoning former sheriff Apraio sends a clear negative message