Joe Arpaio’s latest round of high-profile crackdowns on illegal immigrants is drawing accusations from one prominent county leader that the sheriff is guilty of racial profiling.
Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, D-District 5, on Tuesday became the first member of the Board of Supervisors to publicly scold Arpaio’s saturation patrols, saying that “he’s gone too far.”
“I just felt it was time to stand up and go toe-to-toe with him and tell him this is not right,” she said. “I think what he’s done is terrorize the community.”
Her comments came as Arpaio was conducting another round of crime suppression sweeps — this time in his hometown of Fountain Hills — arresting nine people suspected of being in the country illegally. One other was arrested on an outstanding felony warrant.
All total, deputies made 10 arrests — including three felony warrants — on seven traffic stops during the seven-hour operation. Deputies will continue patrolling the town today.
As in prior sweeps, deputies stopped drivers for minor traffic violations in part to root out illegal immigrants. The practice has drawn widespread attention as well as accusations that the sheriff is violating civil rights laws because earlier sweeps targeted Hispanic neighborhoods in Phoenix and Guadalupe. Arpaio said he did not know when the operations would end.
Upon hearing Wilcox’s remarks, Arpaio quipped: “Who? Who is she?”
He went on say that she can say anything she wants but that it would not deter him from continuing his efforts.
After his immigration sweeps in Guadalupe last month, Arpaio said he intended to move into Mesa next. He has since clarified he will wait until after the school year ends to do sweeps in Mesa.
Arpaio has said he will alert the Mesa Police Department 48 hours before beginning any sweeps. On Tuesday, after attending a news conference at the state Capitol in support of an illegal immigration measure, he said: “I’m the sheriff, and I don’t need to be invited to Mesa. I can go in anytime I want.”