Joe Arpaio, arguably the central figure in Arizona's controversial immigration enforcement law, won his re-election bid yesterday. According to an LATimes.com report, the self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff" in America won 53 percent of the county vote.
At 80 years old, Arpaio has been an ardent supporter of SB 1070, the law that requires law enforcement officers to check the status of anyone they suspect is an illegal immigrant. Because of it, he has earned a number of supporters and opponents. But more importantly, he has represented the standard for conservative views on immigration, and has created a significant divide between the Latino community and law enforcement.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down several provisions of SB 1070, but upheld the "show your papers" provision. Interestingly enough, federal law does not require immigrants to carry their immigration papers at all times. Because of this, important questions remain regarding whether probable cause to stop someone (for a potential traffic violation, for example,) is sufficient to check someone's immigration status simply because of their accent, clothing, or the color of their skin.
While Arpaio's re-election is a story in itself, it suggests that immigration checks will be a continual civil rights issue that will not be resolved any time soon. When speaking to the media, Arpaio suggested that the Latino community's anger with him prevents any real discourse. He said, "I would like to get together with the Latino community, but they scream at you and I just can't sit down" (with them).
As the election ends, immigration reform is expected to be a central issue that will be debated for years to come.
Source: LA Times.com, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, illegal immigration hardliner, reelected, November 7, 2012