Editorial: This is the rule of law?

If anyone should know, it’s Sheriff Joe: illegal is illegal

President Donald Trump has pardoned former sheriff Joe Arpaio (pictured) following his conviction for intentionally disobeying ajudge’s order in an immigration case. (AP/File)

As much as we’d like to support Joe Arpaio, it’s hard to take up for a sheriff who openly flouts a court order.

 

The famed former Arizona lawman – who embraced his image as “America’s toughest sheriff,” and who is undoubtedly the most politically incorrect – had allegedly ignored court orders to stop targeting Latinos for detention based solely on suspicions of being undocumented.

A judge found him in criminal contempt of those orders in July and scheduled him for an Oct. 5 sentencing. He could’ve received up to six months in jail.

Could have. But won’t.

Thanks to a presidential pardon announced last Friday, the criminal case against Sheriff Arpaio is essentially over.

We certainly understand President Trump’s sentiments. The case against Arpaio, which had its genesis during the illegal immigration-friendly Obama administration, could hardly have been said to be devoid of politics.

Moreover, how patently perverse would it have been for an anti-illegal-immigration law officer to face possible imprisonment when “sanctuary” cities across the nation turn loose illegal aliens with glee rather than cooperate with federal immigration authorities?

Still, it’s dicey for a presidential administration to tout the rule of law while pardoning a sheriff who flouts it.

We believe President Trump’s announced pardon of Arpaio was premature, if it was ever going to be warranted at all. The president should’ve at least waited to see if the sheriff’s Oct. 5 sentencing resulted in what he believed was a miscarriage of justice.

There needs to be an end to illegal immigration. It’s not compassionate, it’s not safe and it’s not healthy for anyone involved, least of all this country.

But a transition to a more orderly immigration system must be achieved constitutionally. And one man with a sidearm and a cadre of deputies can’t bring it about singlehandedly, try as he might.

Besides, it’s likely the defiant Arpaio would’ve worn his conviction as a badge of honor anyway.

He should’ve been allowed to.

 

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