Above: Sheriff Joe Arpaio at the unveiling of his McDonalds-style Tent City “served” sign in Feburary, 2012. The ‘controversial’ prison tent facility turns 20 today.
But Sheriff Joe Arpaio just keeps on enforcing the law against criminals and illegal aliens – and refuses to treat them with kid gloves. And the most famous symbol of ‘America’s Toughest Sheriff’ – his outdoor ‘Tent City’ – celebrates 20 years of operation today.
Tent City began in 1993 and is made up of Korean War tents used to house inmates – many of them illegal aliens – for a sheriff’s department which serves the 4th most populous county in America. According to the McDonalds-inspired sign in front, 441,385 inmates have served time there over the past 19 years.
Critics have long been angered by what they call “humiliating” conditions, including the 40-cent bologna sandwiches and pink underwear that “America’s Toughest Sheriff” makes his roughly 3,000 inmates endure.
“Why would anyone call for an end to this program and the closure of Tent City?” said Arpaio announcing the sign. ”Tent City makes room for inmates who otherwise might be released to the streets due to overcrowded jails. It’s one of the best things to have happened in the local criminal justice system.”
When an AP reporter visited Tent City on a particularly hot day a few years back, he interviewed an inmate complaining that “It feels like you’re in a furnace, it’s inhumane!” Arpaio overhead this and shot back:
“It’s 120 degrees in Iraq and our soldiers are living in tents too, and they have to wear full battle gear, but they did not commit any crimes, so shut your damned mouths!”
Amen to that. And while much of the publicity around Tent City is entertaining, what is little known by most Americans is just how much of the dirty work of the nation’s immigration enforcement is completed by Arpaio and his deputies each year. Arpaio’s office – in a single county – apprehends a staggering 25% of all criminal illegal aliens in the entire United States every year.
That means he doesn’t just keep illegal alien criminals out of Arizona cities, but since Arizona is the gateway for illegal entry into the U.S., he also keeps them from threatening Americans from coast to coast.
For example, Arpaio’s detectives apprehended 20 illegals being smuggled through Maricopa – including one wanted on an outstanding felony warrant in Oregon. All 20 of the captured illegals were headed to states other than Arizona. Hundreds more illegals bound for other states have been captured so far this year.
This is not uncommon – a 2011 Pew survey showed that a remarkable 80% of all illegal aliens apprehended by Arpaio’s department were headed for states other than Arizona.
So the next time you see a photo of an inmate inside Tent City in pink underwear, remember that he may well be there because Joe kept him from getting to a town near you – and sign his petition below to show him you appreciate it.
Happy anniversary, Joe!