President Trump’s pardoning of Joe Arpaio, the former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, represents a slap in the face to the Latinos of the United States, clear and simple. Everything indicates that our president did this with total impunity and without a trace of shame or regret. We, Latinos, mean little to him so he shoved us aside when he cancelled the criminal contempt case against Arpaio, as widely reported. That he did it early in his administration, an exceptional occurrence as many commentators have noted, simply underscores my observation: we mean little or nothing to him. (His ending of the DACA program on September 5, 2017–Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals–illustrates this quite clearly: he didn’t take a lead on it, he passed the fate of these young culturally assimilated Americans on to Congress. No one can call that leadership.
Why is Arpaio an issue?
Everyone in Arizona knows that as sheriff of Arizona’s most important county, Joe Arpaio brazenly went out of his way to tear every shred of dignity from the Latin Americans, mostly Mexican, he accused of entering the country illegally, men, women and children. It seems he enjoyed doing it, according to reports. It is apparent that like his protector in the White House, he considers all migrants, who cross the border without permission, as sub-humans and criminals. According to The New Yorker, up to 2009 only, his department cost the State of Arizona more than forty three million dollars for settling lawsuits that alleged mistreatment of the lowly migrants, and even their wrongful deaths. He mocked them by putting them in gaudy colored uniforms, fed them two meals a day that cost less than fifty cents each, and even marched them publicly in chain gangs, women too. His deliberate scare-‘em Gestapo tactics generated more than twenty two hundred court cases, exceeding the worst raids of undocumented workers in the 1950s, some of which I witnessed.
All this is against the moral standards we Americans have always considered fitting and proper, but Mr. Trump turned a blind eye, insisted Arpaio was a “good man”, and pardoned him.
Clearly, the Trump administration is anti-Mexican, anti-Latino, and anti-immigrant. And, the 30% of Americans who continue to support him are too, apparently.
Should we worry about this?
Should we, Latinos of the United States, who don’t have to worry about getting picked up and deported care about this? Of course, we should, if for no other reason than the fact that the hapless deportees look like our ancestors, they look like us. They speak as our descendants spoke, they eat what they ate, they worship as they did. They are as we were. In addition, you and I know that most of them crossed the border to find work, keep their heads down, and send a few pennies back home.
To call them “criminals” is repulsive and immoral. They may have broken a law to get into the U.S. but that does not give any American official license to diminish their humanity. Arpaio swaggers about it according to reports. His tactics, his demeanor, and his penchant for publicity remind us of the black-booted Nazis persecuting Jews in the 1940s (he would have made a good Sturmmann or Storm Trooper).
What can we do?
We can speak up. We can make known our contempt to our friends personally, and through Facebook, Twitter and other social media. We can ask our pastors to help raise awareness in our communities.
We can ask our community organizations to help spread the word about Trump’s anti-immigration stance. There are groups like CHIRLA (Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles), and the NCLR (National Council for La Raza).
Get their address and send them a note with $5 or $10. You surely must know a DACA youngster (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as “The Dreamers”), the ones who were brought to the U.S. from Mexico without documentation; they are being persecuted by Mr. Trump and his ilk (all this sounds so Nazi like). Talk to the young Dreamer; ask how you can support their cause. To have them deported is immeasurably immoral, a stain on America!
Most importantly, YOU CAN REGISTER TO VOTE. NEXT TIME MAKE SURE YOU GO OUT AND VOTE! OUR ONLY LINE OF DEFENSE IS POLITICAL! We can vote. Let us stand up against Mr. Trump and the Joe Arpaio’s who support him.
¡Si se puede!