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                          sheriff joe
Joe Arpaio is tough on prisoners and undocumented immigrants. What about crime?

                             by William finnegan

J  oe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa
   County, Arizona, looked disappointed.
Al Sharpton was supposed to come to Ar-
                                                and the mall parking lot was mobbed.
                                                “Where’s the red carpet?” Arpaio asked. It
                                                turned out to be a long, dirty, maroon rug.
izona to lead a march demanding Arpaio’s        The crowd, craning to catch a glimpse
resignation. But Sharpton had other             of Hugh Jackman, seemed to be mainly
plans. “He’s going to Alabama this week-        teen-agers. A sunburned middle-aged
end instead,” Arpaio told Lisa Allen, his       couple approached Arpaio and asked for
media-relations director. They were             a photograph with him. He obliged—this
riding in the back of the Sheriff ’s car, a      was more like it.
big black Chrysler with tinted windows.            The first celebrity arrived, a big guy in
“He’ll never come,” the Sheriff said             heavy stage makeup, with well-muscled
bleakly. “Alabama—isn’t that where Bull         arms and long blond hair and extremely
Connor was, that they’re always compar-         white teeth. He bared his teeth and flexed
ing me of ?” Two silent, extra-large depu-      his biceps, mugging for the cameras. I
ties rode in the front seat. Arpaio, who is     asked a gangly teen-ager in a tuxedo who
seventy-seven, thick-bodied, and restless,      he was. Clearly astounded by my igno-
studied the strip malls and waste grounds       rance, the teen-ager said, “That’s Sabre-
streaming past. He wore a gray suit, no         tooth, from ‘American Gladiator’!” The
badge, a tie clip in the shape of a pistol.     actor, Hollywood Yates, later told me that
“But Shaq is coming tonight?” he asked.         his character on “American Gladiator”
Allen thought he was. The occasion was          was, in fact, Wolf.
the première of the film “X-Men Origins:            People who were actually in “Wol-
Wolverine,” at a mall in Tempe, where           verine”—Jackman, Liev Schreiber,
Arpaio looked forward to walking the red—started arriving, each bound-
carpet with Shaquille O’Neal.                   ing onto the little stage to raucous
    Arpaio is known as “America’s Tough-        applause.
est Sheriff.” He even wrote (or caused to           Shaquille O’Neal never showed.
have written) a book with that title, as well      I asked Hollywood Yates what he
as a second one, published last year, “Joe’s    thought of Arpaio.
Law: America’s Toughest Sheriff Takes               “He’s awesome!”
On Illegal Immigration, Drugs, and Ev-             Yates’s wife, Shari, who had joined us,
erything Else That Threatens America.”          grimaced. She was slim, blond, in her late
When he’s not taking on everything that         thirties. She wore much less makeup
threatens America, Arpaio pursues his           than her husband. “Joe is too hard-core
passion for being in the vicinity of celeb-     for me,” she said.
rities. He made a point of visiting Charles        “Well, I love it,” Yates said. “Those
Barkley when Barkley was in his jail on a       people are in jail for a reason.”
D.U.I. earlier this year. After it was re-
ported that the Los Angeles County jail
was having trouble with overcrowding, he
offered to put Paris Hilton into his lockup
                                                M      aricopa County is not a modest,
                                                       out-of-the-way place. It includes
                                                Phoenix, covers more than nine thou-
after her D.U.I. (No luck.)                     sand square miles, and has a population
    Tempe had been awarded the “Wol-            of nearly four million. Joe Arpaio has
verine” première in an online vote. A           been sheriff there since 1993. He has
modest outdoor stage had been thrown            four thousand employees, three thousand
together, under a billboard for Hastings &      volunteer posse members, and an over-
Hastings, discount accident lawyers,            worked media-relations unit of five. Like

Arpaio and inmates at the Tent City jail. Photograph by Dan Winters.
The neW yorKer, jUl 20, 2009   43
most sheriffs in America, he is elected.       since 1970, it is not always a disadvantage        His popularity grew. What could he
He is currently enjoying his fifth four-       to lack local roots. Arpaio wasn’t elo-        do next? Arpaio ordered small, heavily
year term, and looking forward to win-        quent, but he spoke in short, quotable         publicized deprivations. He banned ciga-
ning a sixth in 2012. Maricopa sheriff ’s      bursts, and he pummelled opponents             rettes from his jails. Skin magazines.
races are, in the age of Arpaio, not light-   with gusto. He promised to crack down          Movies. Coffee. Hot lunches. Salt and
hearted affairs. Stephen Lemons, a polit-      on crime and to serve only one term. He        pepper—Arpaio estimated that he saved
ical reporter for the weekly Phoenix New      won the Republican primary, which is           taxpayers thirty thousand dollars a year by
Times, told me with some chagrin that         traditionally all one needs in Maricopa.       removing salt and pepper. Meals were cut
Barack Obama’s victory in November                The biggest part of the sheriff ’s job is   to two a day, and Arpaio got the cost
was actually overshadowed, in his mind,       running the jails, and Arpaio saw that         down, he says, to thirty cents per meal. “It
by Arpaio’s reëlection.                       there was political gold to be spun there.     costs more to feed the dogs than it does
   Arpaio always wanted to be a cop. His      The voters had declined to finance              the inmates,” he told me. Jail, Arpaio likes
parents were immigrants from Naples.          new jail construction, and so, in 1993,        to say, is not a spa—it’s punishment.
“They came through Ellis Island legally,”     Arpaio, vowing that no troublemakers           He wants inmates whose keenest wish is
he says. His mother died giving birth to      would be released on his watch because         never to get locked up again. He limits
him in Springfield, Massachusetts. His         of overcrowding, procured a consign-           their television, he told me, to the Weather
father owned grocery stores there, and        ment of Army-surplus tents and had             Channel, C-SPAN, and, just to aggravate
Joe was raised mostly by friends and          them set up, surrounded by barbed wire,        their hunger, the Food Network. For a
relatives. After a hitch in the Army, he      in an industrial area in southwest Phoe-       while, he showed them Newt Gingrich
became a patrolman in Washington,             nix. “I put them up next to the dump, the      speeches. “They hated him,” he said cheer-
D.C.—“Black neighborhood,” he told            dog pound, the waste-disposal plant,” he       fully. Why the Weather Channel, a Brit-
me. He later worked as a federal nar-         told me. Phoenix is an open-air blast          ish reporter once asked. “So these morons
cotics agent in Turkey and Mexico and,        furnace for much of the year. Tempera-         will know how hot it’s going to be while
finally, Arizona, where he retired. He         tures inside the tents hit a hundred and       they are working on my chain gangs.”
and his wife, Ava, who have two chil-         thirty-five degrees. Still, the tents were a        Arpaio wasn’t kidding about chain
dren, ran a small travel agency in a sub-     hit with the public, or at least with the      gangs. Foreign television reporters couldn’t
urb north of Phoenix. Then, in the early      conservative majority that voted. Arpaio       get enough footage of his inmates shuf-
nineties, Joe decided to run for sheriff       put up more tents, until Tent City jail        fling through the desert. New ideas for
against an incumbent weakened by scan-        held twenty-five hundred inmates, and           the humiliation of people in custody—
dal. In Maricopa County, where the            he stuck a neon “vACANCY” sign on a            whom the Sheriff calls, with persuasive
population has more than quadrupled           tall guard tower. It was visible for miles.    disgust, “criminals,” although most are ac-
                                                                                             tually awaiting trial, not convicted of any
                                                                                             crime—kept occurring to him. He put his
                                                                                             inmates in black-and-white striped uni-
                                                                                             forms. The shock value of these retro pris-
                                                                                             oner outfits was powerful and complex.
                                                                                             There was comedy, nostalgia, dehuman-
                                                                                             ization, even a whiff of something annihi-
                                                                                             lationist. He created female chain gangs,
                                                                                             “the first in the history of the world,” and,
                                                                                             eventually, juvenile chain gangs. The
                                                                                             chain gangs’ tasks include burying the in-
                                                                                             digent at the county cemetery, but mainly
                                                                                             they serve as spectacles in Arpaio’s theatre
                                                                                             of cruelty. “I put them out there on the
                                                                                             main streets,” he told me. “So everybody
                                                                                             sees them out there cleaning up trash,
                                                                                             and parents say to their kids, ‘Look, that’s
                                                                                             where you’re going if you’re not good.’ ”
                                                                                             The law-and-order public loved it, and
                                                                                             the Sheriff ’s fame spread. Rush Limbaugh
                                                                                             praised him, and blurbed his book. Phil
                                                                                             Donahue berated him.
                                                                                                 Arpaio’s one-term campaign prom-
                                                                                             ise had to be shelved. Opinion polls
                                                                                             found that Sheriff Joe, as he was called,
                                                                                             was the most popular politician in Ari-
                                                                                             zona. The Democrats didn’t even bother
   “I can’t afford to lose my phone. I’ve assigned it talismanic properties.”                running a candidate against him in
1996. In fact, he often says, the gover-      federal district court. Last year, the Na-     critics. He was mainly talking about a
norship has long been his for the tak-        tional Commission on Correctional              wide-ranging campaign, carried out by
ing. But he likes being sheriff—he pro-        Health Care withdrew the health ac-            Arpaio in recent years, against undocu-
nounces it “shurf.” He got a tank from        creditation of Maricopa County’s jails         mented immigrants in Maricopa County.
the Army, had the howitzer muzzle             for failing to meet its standards, and a
painted with flames, and “Sheriff Ar-
paio’s War on Drugs” emblazoned on
the sides, and rode in it, with Ava, in the
                                              federal judge refused to lift a long-stand-
                                              ing consent decree on the jails, finding
                                              that conditions remained unconstitu-
                                                                                             A     rizona is a major corridor for La-
                                                                                                   tin Americans sneaking into the
                                                                                             United States, and the Phoenix area is
Fiesta Bowl Parade. He decreed that all       tional for pre-trial detainees. (The con-      both a stopover and a destination.
of his inmates—there are now roughly          sent decree mandates that the jails be         Roughly half a million undocumented
ten thousand of them, double the num-         monitored. But it hasn’t had                             immigrants live in the state.
ber when he took office—must wear               much effect.)                                             Arizona is also full of retirees
pink underwear. And pink socks and                Remarkably, Arpaio has paid                          from the Midwest and the
pink flip-flops. Even pink handcuffs.            almost no political price for run-                       Northeast—Sun City is in
Pink, he explains, mock-sincerely, is a       ning jails that are so patently                          Maricopa County—and these
soothing color.                               dangerous and inadvertently ex-                          elderly Americans are, by and
    “I know just how far I can go,” Arpaio    pensive. Indeed, until recently                          large, not completely delighted
told me. “That’s the thing.”                  there were few local or state pol-                       to find themselves among folk,
    His deputies, particularly his jail       iticians willing to criticize him                        mostly poor and brown, who
guards, seem to have less sense of how        publicly. Those who have, in-                            don’t speak English. The state
far they can go. Thousands of lawsuits        cluding members of the county                            is home to an array of nativist
and legal claims alleging abuse have been     board of supervisors, which controls his       groups, and its legislature has passed
filed against Arpaio’s department by in-       budget, tend to find themselves under in-       perhaps the harshest anti-immigrant
mates—or, in the case of deaths in de-        vestigation by the sheriff ’s office. Local       laws in the country. Arpaio, always a dis-
tention, by their families. A federal in-     journalists who perturb Arpaio have also       cerning student of conservative voter
vestigation found that deputies had used      been targeted. The Phoenix New Times           sentiment, surveyed all this a few years
stun guns on prisoners already strapped       ran an investigation of Arpaio’s real-estate   back and decided to transform his
into a “restraint chair.” The family of one   dealings that included Arpaio’s home ad-       sheriff’s department, with a crucial assist
man who died after being forced into          dress, which he argued was possibly a vi-      from the Bush Administration’s Depart-
the restraint chair was awarded more than     olation of state law. When the paper re-       ment of Homeland Security, into a sort
six million dollars as the result of a suit   vealed that it had received an impossibly      of freelance immigration-enforcement
filed in federal court. The family of an-      broad subpoena, demanding, among               agency.
other man killed in the restraint chair got   other things, the Internet records of all         His deputies conduct extensive
$8.25 million in a pre-trial settlement.      visitors to its Web site in the previous two   raids in Latino towns and neighbor-
(This deal was reached after the discov-      and a half years, sheriff ’s deputies staged    hoods. They say they have investi-
ery of a surveillance video that showed       late-night raids on the homes of Michael       gated and arrested more than thirty
fourteen guards beating, shocking, and        Lacey and James Larkin, executives of          thousand undocumented aliens. This
suffocating the prisoner, and after the        village voice Media, which owns the            campaign has landed Arpaio on Lou
sheriff ’s office was accused of discarding      New Times. The deputies arrested both          Dobbs’s show, on CNN, where he is
evidence, including the crushed larynx of     men for, they said, violating grand-jury       treated as a conquering hero, and has
the deceased.) To date, lawsuits brought      secrecy. (The county attorney declined to      drawn support from ultra-right and
against Arpaio’s office have cost Mari-         prosecute, and it turned out that the sub-     racist groups, including neo-Nazis and
copa County taxpayers forty-three mil-        poenas were issued unlawfully.)                the Ku Klux Klan. It has also brought
lion dollars, according to some estimates.        Outspoken citizens also take their         Arpaio critical attention from civil-
But the Sheriff has never acknowledged         chances. Last December, remarks critical       rights organizations.
any wrongdoing in his jails, never apol-      of Arpaio were offered during the public-          In March, the U.S. Department of
ogized to victims or their families. In       comment period at a board of supervisors       Justice, at the request of members of
fact, many of the officers involved have        meeting, and four members of the audi-         Congress, launched an investigation
been promoted.                                ence were arrested and charged with            into charges of discriminatory conduct
    Other jails get sued, of course. The      disorderly conduct—for clapping. Their         by the sheriff ’s office in Maricopa
Phoenix New Times found that, between         cases are pending.                             County. “It’s garbage,” Arpaio says—
2004 and 2008, the county jails of New            Some local politicians have begun to       grandstanding by politically correct
York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Hous-         speak up. Phil Gordon, the mayor of            bureaucrats afraid to enforce the laws,
ton, which together house more than           Phoenix, publicly denounced Arpaio last        Obama Democrats throwing their
six times as many inmates as Maricopa,        year for abuses of power. Gordon told me       weight around. Certainly, it has not
were sued a total of forty-three times.       in his office recently that the Sheriff has       slowed the pace of his roundups. “Since
During the same period, Arpaio’s de-          imposed “a reign of terror” on Maricopa        I got my letter March 12th, we’ve
partment was sued over jail conditions        County. But the Mayor was referring nei-       locked up another hundred fifty,” he
almost twenty-two hundred times in            ther to the jails nor to the intimidation of   told me in April. In the world accord-
                                                                                             The neW yorKer, jUl 20, 2009           45
ing to Sheriff Joe, almost every problem
in America these days can somehow be
traced back to “illegals.”                                   meaTloaf

T     hat was presumably why Arpaio
      seemed so excited to hear the early
news about swine flu: it was coming from
                                               Twenty-five years ago, Kurt Schwitters,
                                               I tried to instruct you in baseball
Mexico. “We gotta get something out!” he       but kept getting distracted, gluing
said. He meant a press release. The Sheriff     bits and pieces of world history
gathered eight or nine aides around a big      alongside personal anecdote
table in his office. “Illegal Immigration        instead of explicating baseball’s
Breeds Crime, Disease,” Arpaio sug-            habits. I was K.C. (for Casey)
gested. “Can we get masks for the depu-        in stanzas of nine times nine times nine.
ties at the tents? ICE”—Immigration and        Last year the Sox were ahead by twelve
Customs Enforcement—“has masks,
don’t they? We should close the border.”
    The press-release team included Lisa       2.
Allen and other members of the media-          in May, by four in August—collapsed
relations unit; a jail administrator; a pub-   as usual—then won the Series.
lic-health specialist; and two deputies        Jennifer, who loved baseball, enjoyed
from the Sheriff ’s human-smuggling unit,       the game on Tv but fell asleep
who had brought with them a map of             by the fifth inning. She died twelve years
Mexico. “Ninety, ninety-five per cent of        ago, and thus would be sixty now
the people we apprehend are from Guer-         watching baseball as her hair turned white.
rero, Oaxaca, Chiapas,” one of the depu-       I see her tending her hollyhocks,
ties said, spreading out the map. “The         gazing west at Eagle Pond, walking
south.” He and his partner were the odd
men out at the meeting. Everyone else
was in business attire; the deputies wore      3.
bluejeans and black T-shirts and carried       to the porch favoring her right knee.
pistols on their hips. Both deeply tanned,     I live alone with baseball each night
with sunglasses pushed up on crewcuts,         but without poems. One of my friends
they were also the only Latinos present.       called “Baseball” almost poetry. No
People silently studied the map. Finally,      more vowels carrying images
Lisa Allen said, “Mexico City is where?”       leap suddenly from my excited
    Arpaio was getting impatient. Len          unwitting mind and purple Bic pen.
Sherman, who co-wrote both of the              As he aged, Auden said that methods
Sheriff ’s books, said firmly, “The story        of dry farming may also grow crops.
here is that Homeland Security is doing
nothing about this, just like New Orleans.
So we’re taking action.”                       4.
    The public-health specialist said          When Jennifer died I had nightmares
gently, “Surgical masks do nothing to          that she left me for somebody else.
combat this virus.”                            I bought condoms, looking for affairs,
    Arpaio erupted. “This is my press re-      as distracting as Red Sox baseball
lease! I’m the sheriff! I have some knowl-      and even more subject to failure.
edge! I’m not just some little old sher-       There was love, there was comfort; always
iff!” He told a complicated story about a       something was wrong, or went wrong later
Nixon-era anti-narcotics program called        —her adultery, my neediness—
Operation Intercept, which he said he ran      until after years I found Lauren.
with G. Gordon Liddy, and which nearly
closed the border with Mexico for ten
days in 1969.                                  5.
    Len Sherman nodded thoughtfully.           When I was named Poet Laureate,
“So you’re saying that swine flu is an op-      the kids of Danbury School painted
portunity to solve other problems.”            baseballs on a kitchen chair for me,
    “Yes!”                                     with two lines from “Casey at the Bat.”
    The meeting went on for close to an        In fall I lost sixty pounds, and lost
hour. The Sheriff was called away to an         poetry. I studied only “Law
46                            y
           The neW yorKer, jUl 20, 2009
                                             interview, which he conducted on speak-
                                             erphone from his desk. His department’s
                                             executive offices are situated, strangely, on
                                             two high floors of a bank tower in down-
                                             town Phoenix. They command a tremen-
and Order.” My son took from my house        dous view of suburban sprawl in all direc-
the eight-sided Mossberg .22                 tions. Outside, it was hot and hazy; inside,
my father gave me when I was twelve.         it was icy. The Sheriff ’s office is the size
                                             of a midrange convenience store, its dark
                                             wood-panelled walls crowded with mem-
6.                                           orabilia, including an illustration celebrat-
Buy two pounds of cheap fat hamburger        ing the 2001 World Series victory of the
so the meatloaf will be sweet, chop up       Arizona Diamondbacks, with Arpaio’s
a big onion, add leaves of basil,            face drawn bigger than even Randy John-
Tabasco, newspaper ads, soy sauce,           son’s, as if the Sheriff had been the Series
quail eggs, driftwood, tomato ketchup,       M.v.P.
and library paste. Bake for ten hours            The interviewer on the phone wanted
at thirty-five degrees. When pitchers         to know if Arpaio thought schoolchil-
hit the batter’s head, Kurt, it is called    dren should be asked about their im-
a beanball. The batter takes first base.      migration status.
                                                 “Yeah. Anything.”
                                                 “Aren’t you concerned about putting
7.                                           schools in that position?”
After snowdrifts melted in April,                The Sheriff waved at Sherman, stage-
I gained pounds back, and with Lauren flew    whispering, “What do I say here?”
to Paris, eating all day: croissants             Sherman: “Drugs in schools.”
warm, crisp, and buttery, then baguettes         “I can equate that to drug test-
Camembert, at last bœuf bourguignon          ing,” Arpaio told the interviewer. “It’s
with bottles of red wine. Afternoons         controversial.”
we spent in the Luxembourg Gardens               Sherman, who is from New York, later
or in museums: the Marmottan!                told me, “He’s an idiot savant. What he
The Pompidou! The Orangerie!                 knows, he knows, and that’s all he knows.
                                             I once saw him debate Alan Dershowitz,
                                             and I thought Dershowitz’s head was
8.                                           going to explode.”
The Musée de la vie Romantique!                  Arpaio walked back to the press-
The Louvre! The d’Orsay! The Jeu de          release meeting, interrupting a recitation
Paume! The Musée Maillol! The Petit          of facts by the public-health specialist.
Palais! When the great Ted Williams died,    “Forget this medical stuff,” he said. “We’re
his son detached his head and froze it       talking about drop houses and human
in a Scottsdale depository.                  smuggling. I think we should start off
In summer, enduring my dotage,               with a paragraph about how I’m con-
I try making this waterless farm,            cerned about the illegals coming over the
Meatloaf, with many ingredients.             border. We can’t say they’re all Mexicans.
                                             That would be racial profiling.”
                                                 Later, Arpaio said, “Can we throw
9.                                           287(g) in there, give it a little credit?” He
In August Lauren climbs Mt. Kearsarge,       was referring to a federal program that al-
where I last clambered in middle age,        lows state and local officers to be cross-
while I sit in my idle body                  trained by Homeland Security and work
in the car, in the cool parking lot,         in immigration enforcement. The Mari-
revising these lines for Kurt Schwitters,    copa County sheriff ’s office has had more
counting nine syllables on fingers            people trained under 287(g) than any
discolored by old age and felt pens,         other police agency in the country. Arpaio
my stanzas like ballplayers sent down        suggested a line: “Arpaio ordered that
to Triple A, too slow for the bigs.          every detainee be asked by a 287(g) officer
                                             what country they came from.” Allen and
                              —Donald Hall   Sherman wrote that down.
                                                 A deputy in the media-relations unit
                                             The neW yorKer, jUl 20, 2009              47
checked his BlackBerry and announced,           strating against me. But nobody’s printing      around to make sure no guards could hear
“Gordon went out at two o’clock.” He            my press release.” He sounded almost            him, then said, “Arpaio is illegal. He’s not
meant that the Phoenix mayor had held           hurt. I later heard him tell a journalism       really from North America.”
a press conference.                             class at Arizona State University, “I used          I asked if Arpaio had any nicknames
    “About the flu?”                             to have trust with reporters. Give them         in the tents.
    “Yeah.”                                     scoops. Those were the old days. It’s               “Hitler.”
    “That piece of shit! What did he say?”      very strange, when you give a story and             “Hitler.”
    “I don’t know.”                             it doesn’t come out the right way.”                 A fan was moving air around at one
    The deputies from the human-smug-               The swine-flu press release didn’t call      end of the tent, but the heat was ferocious,
gling unit left with their map of Mexico.       for closing the U.S.-Mexico border (Mar-        and it was not yet summer. I could hear
I followed them out, and we talked in a         icopa County is not, incidentally, on the       Arpaio yelling for me to come out. He
conference room. They were Detective            border) but it did note Arpaio’s “unwav-        sent a guard in to get me. Outside, I found
Carlos Rangel and Sergeant Manny Ma-            ering fight to slow the tide of illegal im-      the Sheriff talking to a local Tv news
drid. They had been doing this work for         migration” and warn that the swine flu           crew. I made the mistake of mentioning
two or three years, they said, and 287(g)       should “serve as a wake-up call.” Arpaio’s      that I had interviewed, inside the tent,
had made a big difference. “We can now           “instrumental part” in Operation Inter-         an inmate from Mexico City. The Sheriff
determine alienage,” Madrid said.               cept, in 1969, also got a mention.              sent a guard back in to fetch him. Mexico
    Rangel, who grew up in the border               At the entrance to Tent City Jail is a      City was, in Arpaio’s mind, the epicenter
town of Mexicali, said, “I thought it would     sign: “ILLEGAL ALIENS ARE PROHIBITED            of swine flu. He wanted this guy on Tv.
change, that the numbers we catch would         FROM vISITING ANYONE IN THIS JAIL.”             And so Fidel Sánchez found himself
drop because people would hear Mari-                We swept through an outbuilding, past       being questioned by a bilingual news-
copa was a tough county. But it hasn’t.”        startled deputies, and into a dusty yard full   woman about his infected home town
    Madrid disagreed. He thought smug-          of rows of twenty-two-man canvas tents.         while Sheriff Joe stood by, arms folded,
gling vans were getting harder to find.          “I’m risking my life for you,” Arpaio said—     staring balefully into the camera. Arpaio
“Maybe they’re changing their tactics.”         referring, I gathered, to swine flu. The         has a big, round head, and there is some-
    Rangel said, “Plenty of people come up      sides of the tents had been rolled up in the    thing turtle-like about his posture.
and thank us for our work.” Madrid nod-         heat. Prisoners in striped outfits lay on            “The Sheriff, he’s a dynamo,” a guard
ded. Then Rangel added, “But those peo-         bunks, watching us approach. We went            murmured to me. “He can stay out here
ple are a hundred per cent Caucasian. I’ve      into the first tent. The Sheriff and one of       all day, go on sweeps at night, and be
never had a non-Caucasian thank me.”            his men hurried down the narrow passage         ready to go in the morning with a cup of
                                                between the bunks and out the other side.       coffee. Puts the rest of us to shame.”

T     he Sheriff took me to the tents the
      next day. But first he gave me the
swine-flu press release that his staff had
                                                I stopped midway, and asked the inmates
                                                if they felt like talking. They did.
                                                    They were all Latinos. They came
                                                                                                    Arpaio, with his inhuman energy, had
                                                                                                probably escorted hundreds of camera
                                                                                                crews and reporters through his beloved
produced the night before. He has a stagy       from Mexico, Honduras, California,              tent jail. Many had been appalled, and pro-
way of speaking out of the side of his          Arizona. Some had been in the tents for         duced unflattering stories. Plenty of others
mouth when he wants to share something          nearly a year. Their families were afraid to    had simply served up the Toughest Sheriff
possibly confidential. “If you got any bud-      visit them, because they didn’t have pa-        shtick with relish—the British tabloid the
dies in New York, throw this to ’em,” he        pers. They were all facing deportation.         Sun, in a 2007 story, seemed ready to buy
said, handing me the press release. “I al-      The jail food was very bad, they said, and      out Arpaio’s contract and take him with
ways send my stuff national.”                    they were always hungry. A slender eigh-        them to straighten out the bad guys back
   Arpaio seems to live and die by the          teen-year-old named José Aguilar said           home. Arpaio’s main concern seems to be
press release. When I met up with him in        that he had lost fifty pounds since being        just that he is covered. When I first met
New York, before an appearance on “The          locked up. He showed me a photograph            Lisa Allen at his offices, she looked at my
Colbert Report,” he was under attack back       of himself, taken when he was arrested,         business card and said, “You’ll probably tear
home, he told me, “for going on a comedy        which had been laminated on a plastic           us a new one, but come on in.” Arpaio ad-
show when I could be testifying” at a Sen-      I.D. bracelet, and he had certainly lost        mits that he gets tired of being called a pub-
ate hearing on border violence that was         weight since then. Aguilar said that he had     licity hound, but says he simply has to get
being held in Arizona. The problem, he          been in Phoenix since he was a baby, and        his message out—“I don’t have the budget
explained, was that the hearing, which          knew no one in Mexico; his first language        to do it myself.” He does have the budget,
was being held by Senators John McCain          was English. An older guy craned his head       though, to employ Allen and the rest of his
and Joe Lieberman, was taking place in                                                          unusually serious media-relations unit.
Phoenix City Hall—the headquarters of                                                               On the way back to Phoenix from the
his enemy Mayor Gordon. “Why would                                                              tents, the Sheriff got a call, which he put
I go to Gordon’s office when he’s calling                                                         on speakerphone. Someone named Jim,
me a racist? I did a nice media release, say-                                                   who sounded like a deputy, was calling
ing I didn’t want to disrupt the dignity of                                                     from the courthouse. He said he was
the proceedings—because there are dem-                                                          observing jury selection in a case there.
onstrators out there every day, demon-                                                          “Sheriff, there was a lady who said, ‘Let’s
48                             y
            The neW yorKer, jUl 20, 2009
put it this way. Joe’s my hero.’ So the next
lady says, ‘Joe is not my hero.’ Then she
says she’s the wife of the mayor of Mesa.”
   “I knew it!” Arpaio said to one of his
men. “I never trusted that mayor. He’s pro-
immigrant. He’s never going to fire that
chief. We gotta raid Mesa again.”

T     here are at least twenty-five law-
      enforcement agencies in Maricopa
County. All utilize the county jail. The
sheriff ’s office is responsible for policing
unincorporated areas as well as those
smaller communities which contract for its
services. In towns and cities with their own
police, the sheriff ’s deputies must, in the-
ory, tread lightly. Arpaio has had a num-
ber of run-ins with his fellow-lawmen, and
his present obsession with illegal immi-                 “Our next speaker looked into the abyss and made a few notes.”
grants has made things even more tense.
    Some of the disagreements are basic.                                                •           •
For instance, Arpaio and the county at-
torney, Andrew Thomas, who shares his
views, have settled on a novel interpreta-       that trust was broken by corrupt officers.        of anything close to this.” His officers
tion of a state law against human smug-          No one would talk to the cops, “gang            managed to identify the armed men, but
gling. The law’s target is, of course, smug-     members filled the power void,” and crime        then had trouble getting a straight story
glers, known as coyotes, but Arpaio and          flourished. With victims and witnesses, or       from them. The raid eventually went for-
Thomas charge undocumented immi-                 with people stopped for civil violations,       ward, monitored by the Mesa police, and
grants, the coyotes’ cargo, as “co-conspir-      Gascón’s officers do not inquire about im-        resulted in the arrests of three middle-aged
ators” in their own smuggling. This is a         migration status. “We focus on people who       cleaning women. (Arpaio’s press release
Class 4 felony, which makes the suspects         are committing predatory crimes.”               said that another thirteen suspected illegal
ineligible for bond, and is one reason that          Gascón, a Cuban-American, is tall,          immigrants were arrested later at their
Arpaio’s jails are so full. Maricopa is the      silver-haired, soft-spoken. He is a mem-        homes.) This was the context for Arpaio’s
only one of Arizona’s fifteen counties that       ber of the California bar. He declined to       remark “ We gotta raid Mesa again.”
interprets the law this way, and the sheriff ’s   discuss Arpaio. He did say, however, “I’m
office is the only agency among the
twenty-five in Maricopa that does so. The
others figure—and a few are vocal about
                                                 not an open-borders man. I believe we
                                                 have a problem with illegal immigration.
                                                 But I want to make sure we don’t throw
                                                                                                 T     wo reporters at the East Valley Tri-
                                                                                                       bune, a Maricopa County paper,
                                                                                                 did a five-part study last year of the oper-
it—that their limited resources are better       away the Constitution in the process of         ations of the sheriff ’s office. They found
spent fighting more serious crime.                solving it.” Gascón made it clear from the      that, with the diversion of resources to
    George Gascón, the chief of police in        start that Arpaio’s military-style immigra-     pursuing undocumented immigrants, re-
Mesa—the man whom, Arpaio had bit-               tion sweeps were not welcome in Mesa.           sponse times on emergency calls to the
terly remarked, the mayor was “never going           That didn’t stop Sheriff Joe. Last Oc-       sheriff ’s office had increased significantly,
to fire”—has stoutly opposed Arpaio. Mesa         tober, he sent sixty detectives and posse       arrest rates had dropped, and dozens of
is a big town, east of Phoenix, with a pop-      volunteers into Mesa after midnight. The        violent crimes were never investigated.
ulation of half a million—larger than that       plan was to raid the Mesa city hall and the     The series won a Pulitzer Prize for local
of Cleveland. Gascón, who was an assis-          public library, to look for undocumented        reporting. Arpaio rejected its findings
tant police chief in Los Angeles before          janitors who, according to the sheriff ’s        and, four months after it was published,
taking the Mesa job, three years ago, has        office, were suspected of identification           won reëlection.
had great success in crime reduction in          theft. Gascón was not notified beforehand.          His local opponents, including church
Mesa, using the CompStat crime-map-              (Arpaio claims that he did inform some-         groups, the N.A.A.C.P., ACORN, and
ping model, developed by William Bratton         one at Mesa police headquarters about the       other community organizations, not to
in New York and Los Angeles. But his             raid.) A Mesa police officer spotted a large      mention Mayor Gordon, of Phoenix,
first challenge in Mesa, he told me, had          group of heavily armed men in flak jackets       have asked the federal government to in-
been to gain the trust of minority commu-        gathering silently in a downtown park.          vestigate possible civil-rights violations by
nities, particularly Latinos. “They need to      Gascón, when I asked about the episode,         Arpaio’s office. Large-scale street protests,
believe that you’re ethical and honest, that     took a deep breath. “It was a very, very dan-   including mass marches to the jails, are
you’re not the enemy,” he said. In Los An-       gerous scenario,” he said. “In my entire        mounted every few months. Al Sharpton
geles, he had seen what happened when            law-enforcement career, I have never heard      did eventually show up in Phoenix, for
                                                                                                 The neW yorKer, jUl 20, 2009              49
one day in mid-June. He denounced ra-            men were still in jail, awaiting trial on      wife of the jailed man said. “But I’m try-
cial profiling, met privately with the            charges of using invented Social Security      ing to keep the faith. We’re not going to
Sheriff, and announced plans to stage             numbers. Both were undocumented im-            give up. Sí se puede.”
modern-day “freedom rides” in Maricopa           migrants from western Mexico. A third              Her sister-in-law turned to me and
County. That evening, he and Arpaio ap-          brother, who has residence papers, was         said, “We’re like this.” She held up her
peared together on Lou Dobbs’s show.             able to visit them in jail. I talked to him    fingers, framing something the size of an
    The immediate goal of Arpaio’s oppo-         and his wife, and to the wife and the old-     ant. “Como así. Small. And Arpaio is a gi-
nents is to persuade the Department of           est son of one of the jailed men, in a         ant—un gigante.”
Homeland Security to cancel its 287(g)           cream-colored suburban living room.                The Ortegas asked me again not to
contract with Maricopa County. Modest                “My husband has been here in Ari-          identify them. Arpaio, they said, “does re-
as that sounds, activists believe it would       zona since 1992,” the wife of the jailed       taliation.” They seemed terrified that he
make a difference, reducing the power of          man said in Spanish. She wore a green          might show up at their door.
sheriff ’s deputies and crimping, however         T-shirt and, as she spoke, slowly wrung
slightly, the culture of impunity that has
flourished under Arpaio.
    But Janet Napolitano, President
                                                 her hands. “He’s been working and work-
                                                 ing, paying his taxes. He doesn’t drink,
                                                 gamble—nothing. Our children were
                                                                                                R     ussell Pearce is a state legislator from
                                                                                                      Mesa. His specialty is anti-immigrant
                                                                                                legislation. Much of what he introduces is
Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security,          born here. It’s very hard with them. We        beyond the pale, even in Arizona. He has
has a history with Arpaio. She was the U.S.      tell the little ones he’s in Mexico, taking    tried to force landlords to ascertain the im-
Attorney for Arizona when conditions in          care of his mother. But their cousins tell     migration status of their tenants, couples to
Arpaio’s jails were first investigated by the     them he’s in jail. They don’t understand       produce Social Security numbers and proof
Justice Department, in the mid-nineteen-         why their father, who’s a good man, is in      of citizenship before they can be married,
nineties. Her performance then was mem-          jail. They say, ‘Is he bad? Don’t lie to me,   and even hospitals to stop issuing birth
orably weak. Despite receiving a devastat-       Mama.’ ” She added, “We’ve paid three          certificates—never mind the Fourteenth
ing federal report on brutality inside the       thousand dollars to lawyers. We had to         Amendment of the Constitution—if there
jails, she held a friendly press conference      stop making house payments, but I don’t        is a question about the immigration status
with Arpaio in which she announced the           care. We’re living off his tax return now.”     of the parents. (Pearce can be outré in other
settlement of the case against him and,              Her sister-in-law said, “Everything        areas as well. One law that he supported
according to the Arizona Republic, passed        that’s happening here is the fault of the      would have allowed concealed weapons in
the time “trading compliments with the           federal government, because they em-           schools.) Yet Pearce has had some success:
sheriff.” Later, as the state’s attorney gen-     powered Arpaio.”                               he helped pass a law that imposes sanctions
eral, she stood by as Sheriff Joe ran his jails       The third brother cleared his throat, as   on businesses that employ illegal immi-
any way he pleased. Then, when she ran           if he might not agree. He was legal and        grants—the toughest such law in the na-
for governor in 2002, Arpaio returned the        had a solid job, as a farm supervisor, but     tion—and ballot measures making English
favor by crossing party lines—Napolitano         most of the field hands at the farm were        the official state language and blocking ac-
is a Democrat—and making a last-minute           undocumented. He said, “Everybody’s just       cess for the undocumented to day care and
campaign commercial for her that, by all         trying to keep their noses clean, hoping       in-state college tuition.
accounts, helped her eke out a victory. In       there will be an immigration reform.”              “They should get nothing, nothing,”
2008, in her second term as governor,                “Arpaio gets egged on by the national      Pearce told me. “Not K-12, nothing. Dis-
Napolitano, a moderate on immigration,           publicity he gets,” his wife said. To her      neyland learned this a long time ago. You
finally opposed Arpaio, ordering that $1.6        sister-in-law, she said, “If you lose your     want the people to go home? Turn out the
million in state funds going to his office be      house, you can come and sleep here on the      lights. Shut down the rides.”
used not for immigration sweeps but for          couch.”                                            America, Pearce often says, has been
the investigation of felonies. Arpaio was            I asked the son of the jailed man, who     “invaded,” and the Fifth Column that
furious and later got his funding reinstated.    was sitting with us but kept his eyes on       abets this invasion is, he told me, an un-
His opponents in Maricopa County won-            the floor, his age. “I’m thirteen,” he said,    usual alliance of “big business, folks with
der privately about Napolitano’s willing-        in English. He was tall and skinny, with       thick checkbooks on K Street, the cor-
ness to defy him again, even from a Cabi-        huge eyes and a child’s mouth. He wore a       porate oligarchy,” and “anarchists and
net position. Last week, she announced a         black baseball cap inscribed “Drug Free        seditionists.”
revision of the 287(g) program, intended         and Proud.” He spoke very softly. “Who’s           I hadn’t noticed many anarchists in
to make local agencies more accountable.         going to pay the house bills? Where are we     Arizona.
But, according to her office, ending Home-         going to live? Am I still going to go to           Pearce said, “They’re huge. La Raza,
land Security’s partnership with Arpaio is       school?” Tears began rolling down his face.    the A.C.L.U.”
not under consideration.                             “All he does is study,” his mother said        More self-evident is the appeal of cheap
                                                 to me.                                         labor to employers. Whether the Arizona

I  met a large family west of Phoenix
   whom I’ll call the Ortegas. Two broth-
ers—both husbands, fathers, and home-
                                                     There was talk about legal strategies,
                                                 about what could be tried. “We’re just
                                                 hoping to get in front of Immigration and
                                                                                                economy could survive without undocu-
                                                                                                mented immigrants picking lettuce and
                                                                                                cleaning hotel rooms is an open question.

owners—had been arrested during a raid           get un permiso.”                                   In any case, Pearce and Arpaio are al-
on a company where they worked. The                  “I’m not as strong as I want to be,” the   lies. They are heroes to the same nativist
50                             y
            The neW yorKer, jUl 20, 2009
from The archives by charles addams
groups. They even have the same paint-         members of his vast volunteer posse got       see them.” He marched another nine
ing, “The Prayer at valley Forge,” which       naked, on video, with prostitutes they        hundred this April.
shows George Washington kneeling in            were supposedly arresting. This went               Wilcox is a restaurant owner with an
the snow next to his horse, on their re-       sufficiently far beyond the call of duty that   earnest, matronly air. She told me about
spective office walls.                           the county attorney was unable to file         a youth program she runs in inner-city
    But Arpaio and Pearce were not always      charges. Arpaio, struggling to put this em-   Phoenix. “It’s for fifth-grade kids who live
buddies. Pearce worked at the Maricopa         barrassment behind him, and seeing the        near the ballpark but would never be able
County sheriff ’s office for twenty-three         success with which other local conserva-      to afford to go to a Diamondbacks game,”
years, rising to chief deputy, and he re-      tive politicians were wielding the anti-im-   she said. “They all do community-service
portedly clashed with Arpaio there. (Pearce    migrant club, soon picked it up himself.      work, about a thousand of them, and then
still claims that the Tent City jail was           Mary Rose Wilcox, who is Latina and       they get to go to a game. Sheriff ’s depu-
his idea.) In 2004, Pearce’s son, Sean, also   the only Democrat on the Maricopa             ties always helped me with the program
a sheriff ’s deputy, was wounded by an          County board of supervisors, remembers        till two years ago. But I had to ask them
illegal immigrant during a raid, and Sean’s    a quite different sheriff. “Arpaio was not      to stop. The kids are just too afraid of
wife, Melissa, angry with the Sheriff, de-      like this before,” she told me. “He was       those brown shirts. That’s what their
cided to attend a meeting for a group          flamboyant. But I don’t know this guy.”        teachers told me. And I hate to say it but
called Mothers Against Arpaio, which           For Wilcox, the last straw came this Feb-     the Sheriff is responsible for all this fear.”
was seeking a special recall election. Most    ruary, when Arpaio marched more than               We were eating chiles rellenos in Wil-
of the members of Mothers Against Ar-          two hundred undocumented immigrants,          cox’s restaurant, a modest family-run place
paio were relatives of victims of abuse in-    shackled together, to a new tent jail, pa-    with portraits of César Chávez and Mar-
side Maricopa County jails. (The recall        rading them before news cameras. Arpaio       tin Luther King, Jr., on the walls. Wilcox
effort was unsuccessful.)                       had staged prisoner marches before. In        stopped eating. “It’s like a big joke to him,”
    There is also the awkward fact that        2005, he forced nearly seven hundred          she said. “He has no idea the harm he’s do-
Arpaio came late to the issue of illegal im-   prisoners, wearing nothing but pink un-       ing—to children, families, communities.”
migration. Indeed, he for many years pub-      derwear and flip-flops, to shuffle four
licly assumed the same attitude toward
immigration-law enforcement that most
local police chiefs do: more serious crimes
                                               blocks through the Arizona heat, pink-
                                               handcuffed together, to a new jail. When
                                               they arrived, one prisoner was made to cut
                                                                                              B     e a real sheriff,” the producer said.

                                                                                                      “You don’t want to be a clown

deserve precedence. Arpaio was always          a pink ribbon for the cameras. This elab-         Arpaio seemed to take this advice in
tougher on prisoners than he was on crime,     orate degradation, which is remembered        stride. We were in New York, and he was
but he also immersed himself in a series       fondly by Sheriff Joe’s fans, was ostensibly   about to be interviewed on “The Colbert
of high-profile campaigns—the war on            in the name of security—the men were          Report.” “Is this the greenroom?” he
drugs, reducing cruelty to animals, driving    strip-searched both before and after the      asked. “These walls are blue. Are they
prostitution out of Maricopa. A 2003 anti-     march. But Arpaio also told reporters, “I     going to powder me?”
prostitution sweep backfired when some          put them on the street so everybody could         The producer, an intense young
                                                                                             woman, persisted. “Don’t try to be funny,”
                                                                                             she said. “He will be funnier than you.”
                                                                                                 Arpaio shrugged. He wasn’t familiar
                                                                                             with Colbert’s show. “I’m pretty funny,”
                                                                                             he said. From a rumpled manila envelope,
                                                                                             he pulled two pairs of pink boxer shorts.
                                                                                             “I brought the underwear,” he said.
                                                                                                 The producer stared. An assistant
                                                                                             looked on helplessly. Then the producer
                                                                                             reached for the shorts. “Thanks,” she said.
                                                                                                 “Don’t you want me to take these on
                                                                                             the show?”
                                                                                                 Arpaio looked nonplussed. “Well, at
                                                                                             least let me sign ’em.” He autographed the
                                                                                             shorts—one pair for Colbert (“Stay out of
                                                                                             jail!”), one for the producer’s son.
                                                                                                 Stephen Colbert popped in and in-
                                                                                             troduced himself. “I will be in character
                                                                                             out there,” he warned Arpaio. “My char-
                                                                                             acter is an idiot. He doesn’t understand
                                                                                             anything.” While he spoke, the producer
                                                                                             and the assistant chanted at Arpaio,
                                  “First marriage?”                                          “Set him straight! Set him straight!”
    Arpaio wanted to make sure his new           had just had with someone from Home-          violating the law.) It was standard prac-
book would be plugged on the show.               land Security. “He wouldn’t even take         tice, Arpaio style, complete with a press
That was why he had come to New York.            my underwear.”                                release and news crews. Indeed, it was
Colbert assured him that it would, and               “He’s a bean counter,” the supervi-       the third such operation in less than a
left to start taping.                            sor said.                                     month. But dusty little Guadalupe is
    Arpaio watched the opening mono-                 David Hendershott, Arpaio’s chief         not a standard Maricopa community. It
logue on a monitor, but soon grew bored.         deputy, seemed to be in charge of han-        is an old town, a throwback, not given
He is not accustomed to meeting people           dling the Justice people. Hendershott         to the transience of urban sprawl. Many
who don’t know about the pink under-             is an enormous man, with enormous             of its residents live in the houses they
wear. “Where’s my powder?” he called out         self-confidence and an office nearly as          were born in; very few are foreign-born.
the doorway. No one replied.                     enormous as Arpaio’s. He polishes the         And few appreciated the invasion by
    Colbert’s first guest got the Sheriff ’s at-   Sheriff ’s image at every opportunity.         Sheriff Joe and his team.
tention. It was Ken Quinn, a second mate         Not realizing, for instance, that I had           Protesters materialized, many wav-
from the American container ship that was        already been to the Tent City jail            ing homemade placards urging Arpaio
hijacked off Somalia in April. Quinn barely       with Arpaio, Hendershott told me,             to leave. Motorists honked in support.
got to speak, between Colbert’s jokes, but       “Every time he goes to the tents, it’s like   Guadalupe’s young mayor, Rebecca
he had a good-natured grin and broad             a rock concert. Everybody wants his au-       Jiménez, confronted Arpaio in a parking
shoulders, and the studio audience gave          tograph. They’ll have him sign toilet         lot where he had established his mobile
him a standing ovation. Arpaio seemed            paper, anything.”                             command center. Why, she wanted to
jealous. “The Republic did a poll last week,         The key question about the federal        know, did his press release say that Gua-
‘Who’s your hero?,’ and I beat out Tillman,”     investigation, Hendershott said, was          dalupe town officials were alarmed about
he said. He meant Pat Tillman, the Ari-          “Is it an organized conspiracy to muz-        illegal aliens in their midst? They were
zona Cardinals football star who joined the      zle Sheriff Joe Arpaio by using the Jus-       not. Arpaio went ballistic. “He was wav-
Army Rangers and was killed in Afghani-          tice Department?” He had been doing           ing his arms like a crazy man,” Jiménez
stan. “I beat out all these guys. I’m not        some Internet research on the chief of        told me. “I had to wipe the spit off my
bragging. I’m just saying.” (The poll, pub-      the civil-rights division, he said, and       face. He said, ‘You’re the one that caused
lished in May, actually shows Tillman as         decided that she must be unpopular            all these riots!’ He said he was going to
the winner and Arpaio as a runner-up.)           with at least some of her staff. He bran-      come back the next day. I said we didn’t
    Except for the ovation, Arpaio’s turn        dished a thick set of printouts, and said,    want him. They did come back. But
with Colbert went much like Quinn’s:             “D.O.J. is going to be surprised that         he didn’t.”
the Sheriff hardly got a word in. He did          we find the truth to be a very strong              Arpaio chose to direct the next day’s
manage to growl one stock line: “I’m             ally.” Hendershott pointed at a confer-       Guadalupe operation, which was more
an equal-opportunity law-enforcement             ence table at one end of his office. “I         modest, from a remote command post,
guy—I lock everybody up.” Colbert, hav-          got seven D.O.J. lawyers coming in            and Jiménez was hailed, at least in some
ing mentioned that Arpaio is often ac-           here tomorrow. And I’m going to shove         circles, for her courage. The two-day
cused of racial profiling, kept asking the        it up their ass.”                             raid netted only nine suspected illegal
Sheriff for I.D.                                      He wasn’t more specific about his          immigrants, but reportedly produced a
    As Arpaio left the studio, by an un-         strategy than that, but the bravado itself    high volume of traffic tickets, including
marked door on West Fifty-fourth                 seemed to be the point. “You think I don’t    charges for “improper use of horn.” Ji-
Street, a bushy-haired young man wait-           know how the feds operate?” Arpaio had        ménez noted that the raid came in the
ing outside turned and bellowed, “Never          asked the journalism students at Arizona      middle of an election campaign. “He
come back here again! Fuck you!” Ar-             State. “I don’t bow down to the federal       used our community to get media at-
paio ducked into a town car, which sped          government.”                                  tention,” she said. “You know, Brown
away into the night. “Scumbag,” he                                                             Town. But he got more than he bar-
muttered. The Sheriff hadn’t thought
much of Colbert. He hadn’t thought
much of Conan O’Brien, either, he said.
                                                 G     uadalupe is one of the small Mar-
                                                       icopa communities that have a
                                                 contract for police protection with the
                                                                                               gained for.”
                                                                                                   The Guadalupe raid did have a chill-
                                                                                               ing effect. It began the day before a Cath-
“I’m working on Leno. He’s from my               sheriff ’s office. Its population is almost      olic-church confirmation ceremony—a
home state, Massachusetts. And my                entirely Latino and Native American,          big deal in Guadalupe—was scheduled
home country, Italy. I said, ‘Hey, Jay,          and one day last year Arpaio launched a       to take place in the village plaza, and
why don’t you have me on your show?              major raid there, with a helicopter,          although the children had prepared
Afraid I’ll be funnier than you?’ ”              paddy wagons, and scores of deputies,         for months, a number of them were
                                                 including helmeted officers on horse-           afraid to come out, and missed their

B    ack in Maricopa County, the Justice
      Department was pursuing the inves-
tigation requested by Congress in March.
                                                 back. They stopped and demanded I.D.
                                                 from pedestrians, motorists—basically
                                                 every dark-skinned person they saw.
                                                                                               own confirmations.
                                                                                                   America’s toughest sheriff is, as ever,
                                                                                               unapologetic. Over lunch in New York,
Other federal officials were also snooping         (The sheriff ’s office calls these raids         he told me that he doesn’t mind the effect
around. I heard Sheriff Joe tell his jail su-     “crime suppression” sweeps, and insists       he has. “If they’re afraid to go to church,
pervisor about an awkward interview he           that the raiders stop only people who are     that’s good.” 
                                                                                               The neW yorKer, jUl 20, 2009            53

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