- Former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was recently criminally convicted and pardoned by President Donald Trump, told NPR that young unauthorized immigrants should be deported.
- He suggested they would make “good ambassadors” from the US in their birth countries.
Joe Arpaio, the controversial former Arizona sheriff who recently announced his intention to run for the US Senate, offered up an unusually aggressive solution for the fate of the young unauthorized immigrants known as “Dreamers.”
“Deport them,” Arpaio told NPR in an interview that aired Thursday morning. “When we come across these kids, or some are older than just kids … then deport them. You deport them back to the country they came from.”
Arpaio was referring to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, composed of young adults who have lived in the US illegally since childhood.
The Obama-era DACA program is being rapidly phased out by the Trump administration, and lawmakers are rushing to enact a permanent legislative solution to give them a pathway to citizenship, or at least prevent them from losing work authorization and protection from deportation.
Arpaio also suggested that the young immigrants, many of whom have lived the majority of their lives and attended school in the US, would be useful to the countries they were born in and could serve in roles akin to Peace Corps volunteers.
“They can do a lot of good in those countries,” he told NPR. “They have education here and help out and be good ambassadors from the United States to their country. That’s just my idea.”
‘Great’ Peace Corps volunteers
Arpaio’s impending Senate race rattled his longtime critics as well as his fellow Republicans. The 85-year-old former lawman is best known for his hardliner immigration views, and his longstanding practice of illegally detaining Latinos and keeping inmates in brutal jail conditions during the 24 years he served as Maricopa County sheriff.
His tactics ultimately led to a conviction for criminal contempt after he violated a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos. He was never sentenced, however, because President Donald Trump issued Arpaio a presidential pardon in August.
Arpaio’s hardliner view on DACA recipients is not shared by the bulk of lawmakers, including many Republicans who are reluctant to penalize young immigrants who were brought to the US by their parents and lived there illegally through no fault of their own.
Even Trump, who has made illegal immigration crackdowns a cornerstone of his presidency, has questioned why people would want to “throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military.”
It’s not the first time, however, that the Peace Corps program has been mentioned as a solution to the DACA dilemma. Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa also made waves last fall when he said DACA recipients would make “great” Peace Corps volunteers in their home countries, and that “none would take more hardship or risk than we ask of Peace Corp.”