NEW YORK – American Jewish organizations strongly condemned President Donald Trump’s pardon of sheriff Joe Arpaio last week, calling the decision “shameful” and “inexcusable.”
The self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America” was found guilty last month of criminal contempt for unlawfully targeting Latino undocumented immigrants and humiliating them.
Arpaio, who served for 24 years as a sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona, disregarded a 2011 federal judge order demanding that he cease racially profiling, arresting and jailing undocumented immigrants at the Tent City jail, which he boastfully compared to a concentration camp.
He reinstated chain gangs, made inmates wear uniforms that were pink or old-fashioned black and white stripes and forbade them coffee, salt and pepper.
The Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said the pardon “defies explanation and flies in the face of American values.”
“We stand today with the Latino community, who have been the primary targets of Arpaio’s bigotry and feel the president’s decision to pardon him particularly acuteacutely,” he said in a statement.
“This pardon leads us to question where President Trump stands on the rule of law.”
Letting Arpaio get away with his crime, he added, sets “a very dangerous precedent” and could foster divisions in the country at a time when it needs healing.
“No doubt anti-immigrant extremists will celebrate this decision, but it is a sad day for Americans who care about justice, equality and strengthening our social fabric,” Greenblatt added.
The ADL has been exposing Joe Arpaio’s anti-immigrant tactics for years. In 2012, the organization released a report naming him a key player in the anti-immigration movement in Arizona.
“No person in this country is above the law,” Greenblatt said. “The president’s decision to pardon him is inexcusable.”
The American Jewish Committee too spoke out after the announcement of the pardon.
AJC deplored the presidential pardon of Arpaio.
“President Trump’s pardon of sheriff Arpaio is shameful,” AJC CEO David Harris said. “It undermines our judicial system and, ignoring the rule of law, endorses the egregious maltreatment and racial profiling of individuals in our country.”
Trump’s pardon of Arpaio came in advance of sentencing.
The sheriff, who lost reelection last November, had been scheduled to be sentenced on October 5, 2017, and faced a fine and maximum sentence of six months in jail.