Is President Trump’s Pardon of Joe Arpaio That Much Different from Past Pardons?

Short answer, it completely depends on how you view Arpaio.



There has been a lot of news over the past few days. Between Hurricane Harvey decimating coastal towns in Texas and the Washington Post breaking a story on Donald Trump trying to seek out a deal on Trump Tower in Moscow as he ran for president, news has been coming in fast the past few days. President Donald Trump added to that chaos last Friday by pardoning controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.


As with many of President Trump’s executive orders, this one was controversial to many due to who he pardoned and exactly when he decided to do it. But is his pardon that much different from past presidential pardons?      



Comparing Trump’s Pardons to Past Presidential Pardons


Historically speaking, presidential pardons run the gamut of reasons. They range from one-time mistakes from random citizens (public intoxication, finding marijuana in a traffic stop, ect) to making a much larger political statement (the Obama administration pardoning many low-level drug offenders). President Donald Trump’s pardon of Arpaio looks to fall into that second category.


For those that don’t know, back in July, Arpaio was convicted of contempt of court on his continuation of his aggressive immigration policies, even after a court issued him to stop in 2011. In the late-2000’s Arpaio was known for doing massive raids on immigrant communities and then handed those undocumented immigrants over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Also he’s had a history of demeaning incarcerated individuals and undocumented immigrants; below is a great Twitter thread documenting many of these incidences.



For President Trump and his supporters, him violating a federal court order as a law enforcement official was always looked at as “doing his job.” Yet even with Arpaio’s sketchy past as sheriff, his tough stance on undocumented immigrants in the US had made him a symbol for border security. As the above video shows, President Trump even hinted at pardoning Arpaio in last week’s Arizona rally. For them, Arpaio is a patriot keeping America safe. In many ways, he’s the living embodiment of “Trumpism.” With the pardon of Arpaio, President Trump is making a larger political statement.



Is President Trump’s Arpaio Pardon Then Out of Line?


It entirely depends on how you view Arpaio himself.


If you look at Arpaio as a symbol for President Trump’s policies on immigration, then the pardon itself is no different from what former President Obama did with pardoning prison sentences for low-level drug offences. As President Obama’s pardon was looked at as a statement against tough prison sentences against for low-level drug offences, President Trump’s pardon on Arpaio his statement on immigration reform through tough border enforcement. However, if you think Arpaio’s conviction was about law enforcement officials not being above the rule of law, then President Trump’s pardon is out of bounds.


Like most presidential pardons, the legitimacy of it completely depends on your views of Arpaio himself.



(Photo Credit: Google Images)


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