By MJ LEE | 6/25/12 11:33 AM EDT Updated: 6/25/12 5:06 PM
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Monday accused President Barack Obama of trying to make him the “poster boy” of his state’s controversial immigration law and maintained that he’s “not going to bend to the federal government” in light of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down parts of the law.
Asked by Fox News’ Neil Cavuto whether he considered Obama’s statement that “no American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like” was intended to be a “slap” at Arpaio, the sheriff responded, “Of course it is.”
“I’m the poster boy. He mentioned me a few months ago at the White House; he didn’t like what I was doing with [S.B.] 1070,” he said. “I’m going to continue to enforce those state laws, regardless of what the federal government is trying to put pressure on me to satisfy all these activists, which by the way are in front of my building right now, three-and-a-half years they’ve been in front of my building. So, I’m not going to bend to the federal government, especially when we still have state laws to enforce.”
The Supreme Court’s highly anticipated decision ruled against three provisions of SB 1070 while upholding one — widely known as the “show me your papers” measure — that requires police officers to determine the immigration status of an individual who has been stopped for questioning when there’s reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally.
The Justice Department announced in May that it is suing the Arpaio, who calls himself the “toughest sheriff in America.” On Fox, the Maricopa County sheriff also took a shot at the administration’s immigration policy.
“If he has that much concern, then stop them from coming into the United States because it’s illegal to come into this country,” he said. “He ought to do something about that situation.”
Earlier in the day, the sheriff had said that the Supreme Court had protected “a good section” of the state’s immigration law by upholding the controversial “show me your papers” provision of the law.
“I think this is a good section that’s been upheld,” Arpaio said Arizona’s local TV station KNXV. “I would have liked to see where we would have the authority to arrest illegal aliens just by being here illegally and book them into our jails, but that’s not going to happen. But I think this sends a message that we will be involved in enforcing the illegal alien laws and our police officers will be able to at least try to determine if they’re in this country illegally.”
Arpaio also pushed back on allegations that he is a proponent of racial profiling, maintaining that he’s simply interested in doing “the right thing.”
Asked if he expects Immigration and Customs Enforcement to cooperate with the sheriff’s department, Arpaio said this remains to be seen.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see what the Homeland Security does now, if they will continue to pick up the illegal aliens we come into contact with,” he said. “So we’ll see what happens.”