August 14, 2017

Los Angeles, CA - Please attribute the following statement on a possible presidential pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund):

“Demonstrating how inextricably conflicted he is about condemning racism and the targeting of racial minorities, Donald Trump apparently informed Fox News of an extraordinary potential for further hypocrisy on the very same day that he continued to refuse to condemn white nationalism and instead deployed high-level White House officials to re-interpret his previous remarks. Trump reportedly indicated that he is considering issuing his very first pardon to Joe Arpaio, the disgraced former sheriff of Maricopa County who was recently convicted of criminal contempt. Trump also attempted to lionize Arpaio, labeling him a ‘great American patriot’ for his repeated efforts to target Latinos in Arizona on suspicion of being undocumented.

To be sure, a pardon for Arpaio before he even appeals his conviction is tantamount to a recognition of his guilt. Arpaio’s guilt lies in openly defying federal court orders to cease directing his deputies to detain Latinos on suspicion of undocumented immigration status. This is despicable behavior by any fair and reasonable rendering. It is neither heroic nor patriotic to racially profile, to discriminate, to humiliate, to devalue human beings on the basis of race and stereotype. The fact that Arpaio did all of this with a badge and the sacred obligation to uphold the law renders the conduct even more egregious.

That the White House chose to praise such unconstitutional, discriminatory behavior in defiance of a federal judge on the same day that it refused to condemn the actions of white supremacists in Charlottesville compounds the damage of Trump’s appalling moral relativism.

In politics, there is hypocrisy on many sides, but the White House’s praise of Arpaio as it tries to extricate itself from equivocal statements about the clear domestic hate-based terrorism in Charlottesville will forever stand out as record-breaking, political disingenuousness.”

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund