Critics of illegal immigration-tips hotline forgot they can't beat Arpaio 
Arizona Republic
August 12, 2007

"Everyone forgets," Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio tells me. Then, as if to make sure that I remember, he says it again, "Everyone forgets."

Arpaio is speaking about the Latino activists who have condemned a hotline he established to receive tips about illegal immigration. Hispanic community leaders say that Arpaio is involved in a form of racial profiling. They've established hotlines of their own that they hope will highlight abuses.

"What disturbs me about this is that I used to be their hero," Arpaio says. "They gave me an award for locking up that reservist, Haab. Remember that?"
Patrick Haab was an Army reservist who held seven border crossers at gunpoint at an Interstate 8 rest stop in 2005.

A sheriff's deputy arrested him, and Arpaio supported bringing charges, an idea that was tossed by Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

Arpaio, back when the Latino activists sort of liked him, said, "I'd lock him (Haab) up again. You don't go around pointing guns at people because you think they are Mexicans."

The sheriff said at the time that he was simply doing his job. Just as he believes that the hotline he established is a way of doing his job.

"I don't understand why they are going after me," he said. "We got 1,100 calls (on the hotline), and we arrested eight people the other day. If I was abusing the hotline, with that may calls, we would have been knocking down doors and everything. But we are very careful. We don't just go around grabbing someone who is trimming palm trees and all of that. . . . You don't respond to every tip. If we get probable cause like we do on every other case, then OK."

That's not how the activists see it.

State Rep. Steve Gallardo, one of those leading the effort against Arpaio, told The Republic, "We need this hotline taken down. This hotline is solely set up for racial profiling. ... We need Sheriff Joe Arpaio to do his job in enforcing the laws without using race as the sole purpose of trying to determine if someone is here illegally."

Arpaio is right. Everyone forgets.

For example, the folks protesting the sheriff's hotline forgot to wait. There's nothing wrong with a hotline. It's only wrong if, over time, it actually is abused.

They also forgot that making a big fuss over something like this can do more harm than good, at least from their point of view.

Their big, public protest is helping to boost the exposure for a hotline that most people didn't even know existed.

It also raises (or at least maintains) the profile of the sheriff.

Which pleases him to no end.

Arpaio's critics also forgot that voters in Arizona have overwhelmingly passed every proposition, no matter how harsh or nutty, that was meant to punish illegal immigrants or those who employ them.

The sheriff isn't creating our immigration problems; he's only reflecting them.

The anti-hotline activists even forgot whom they were dealing with.

In all the many years that he has been in office, no one has beaten Arpaio in a public-relations fight.

He may not land many knock-out blows, but he wins by decision because he throws quicker, sharper jabs and knows how to perform for the judges - you.

He told me, for instance, "If these dedicated Americans get information on their hotlines about illegals, do you think they will pass that on? Do you think they're going to tell me where a drophouse is?"

In the end, the most important thing that the anti-hotline, anti-Arpaio activists forgot is this: He is not always wrong.

Reach Montini at (602) 444-8978 or Read his blog at montiniblog