'America's Toughest Sheriff' Joe Arpaio Goes On Trial

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Media Outlet: National Public Radio

Jude Joffe-Block covered former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's criminal contempt of court trial for National Public Radio:

For 24 years, Joe Arpaio was a tough talking sheriff in Arizona, famous for cracking down on illegal immigration.

About a decade ago Arpaio, dubbed "America's Toughest Sheriff" in conservative circles, started instructing his deputies to make traffic stops and detain any unauthorized immigrants they encountered. Then they'd turn the immigrants over to federal agents for deportation.

He was voted out of his Maricopa County office in November but now faces his own legal troubles — a criminal trial begins Monday in which he is accused of ignoring a federal judge's order to curtail his crackdown.

Many in the Latino community are happy to see the tables turned on him.

"These immigration raids tore our neighborhood apart," said Lydia Guzman, an activist who helped sue Arpaio over those tactics. 

"I see different families with kids I see you know people enjoying themselves," she said at a crowded Mexican restaurant, not far from where many of Arpaio's operations took place. "This is what it should have been all along. Not people living in and fear and trying to hide."

Author:

Jude Joffe-Block is a New Arizona Fellow at New America. From 2010-2017, Joffe-Block was a senior field correspondent for the NPR station in Phoenix, where she covered immigration and politics for public radio stations in the Southwest and national NPR shows.