Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, nationally known for his hardline stance on immigration, lost his seventh bid for reelection on November 8—but may be headed to a federal position in the Trump administration.
Immigrants rights groups and other advocacy groups fought for years to unseat Arpaio, who in October was charged by federal prosecutors with criminal contempt of court for refusing to stop targeting Latinos, including citizens and documented immigrants, during traffic stops and other law enforcement actions. Arpaio, 84, blamed the Obama administration for his loss to Paul Penzone, a Democrat who pulled 54.9 percent of the vote to Arpaio’s 45.1 percent.
According to the New York Times, President-elect Donald Trump is considering appointing Arpaio as head of the Department of Homeland Security.
The Unitarian Universalist Association’s 2012 “Justice General Assembly” in Phoenix organized an immigrant rights protest outside Arpaio’s “tent city” jail, where inmates are housed outside. Two UU ministers in Arizona, the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray and the Rev. Andy Burnette, currently are among the plaintiffs in a class-action suit against Arpaio for allegedly targeting undocumented immigrants including in workplace raids. UUA President Peter Morales was among twenty-nine UUs, including eight clergy, who were arrested in 2010 outside Arpaio’s office protesting Arizona’s tough immigration laws and Arpaio’s policies. Morales was found guilty on a misdemeanor charge.
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Elaine McArdle is a UU World senior editor and a member of First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon. An award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she has also written for the Boston Globe, Harvard Law Bulletin, and others.
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