"Everyone forgets," Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio tells me.
Then, as if to make sure that I remember, he says it again,
Arpaio is speaking about the Latino activists who have condemned
a hotline he established to receive tips about illegal
immigration. Hispanic community leaders say that Arpaio is
involved in a form of racial profiling. They've established
hotlines of their own that they hope will highlight abuses.
"What disturbs me about this is that I used to be their hero,"
Arpaio says. "They gave me an award for locking up that
reservist, Haab. Remember that?"
Patrick Haab was an Army reservist who held seven border
crossers at gunpoint at an Interstate 8 rest stop in 2005.
A sheriff's deputy arrested him, and Arpaio supported bringing
charges, an idea that was tossed by Maricopa County Attorney
Arpaio, back when the Latino activists sort of liked him, said,
"I'd lock him (Haab) up again. You don't go around pointing guns
at people because you think they are Mexicans."
The sheriff said at the time that he was simply doing his job.
Just as he believes that the hotline he established is a way of
doing his job.
"I don't understand why they are going after me," he said. "We
got 1,100 calls (on the hotline), and we arrested eight people
the other day. If I was abusing the hotline, with that may
calls, we would have been knocking down doors and everything.
But we are very careful. We don't just go around grabbing
someone who is trimming palm trees and all of that. . . . You
don't respond to every tip. If we get probable cause like we do
on every other case, then OK."
That's not how the activists see it.
State Rep. Steve Gallardo, one of those leading the effort
against Arpaio, told The Republic
, "We need this
hotline taken down. This hotline is solely set up for racial
profiling. ... We need Sheriff Joe Arpaio to do his job in
enforcing the laws without using race as the sole purpose of
trying to determine if someone is here illegally."
Arpaio is right. Everyone forgets.
For example, the folks protesting the sheriff's hotline forgot
to wait. There's nothing wrong with a hotline. It's only wrong
if, over time, it actually is abused.
They also forgot that making a big fuss over something like this
can do more harm than good, at least from their point of view.
Their big, public protest is helping to boost the exposure for a
hotline that most people didn't even know existed.
It also raises (or at least maintains) the profile of the
Which pleases him to no end.
Arpaio's critics also forgot that voters in Arizona have
overwhelmingly passed every proposition, no matter how harsh or
nutty, that was meant to punish illegal immigrants or those who
The sheriff isn't creating our immigration problems; he's only
The anti-hotline activists even forgot whom they were dealing
In all the many years that he has been in office, no one has
beaten Arpaio in a public-relations fight.
He may not land many knock-out blows, but he wins by decision
because he throws quicker, sharper jabs and knows how to perform
for the judges - you.
He told me, for instance, "If these dedicated Americans get
information on their
hotlines about illegals, do you
think they will pass that on? Do you think they're going to tell
me where a drophouse is?"
In the end, the most important thing that the anti-hotline,
anti-Arpaio activists forgot is this: He is not always wrong.
Reach Montini at (602) 444-8978 or
Read his blog at montiniblog .azcentral.com.