Update: August 29, 1:35 pm

See also Michael Gerson's August 28 article in the Washington Post:

Trump deepens the moral damage to the GOP

(Sorry, I do not have a link - please go to Google.)

Gerson writes:

"Arpaio made a career of dehumanizing prisoner's in his charge. His pardon sends the signal that some people are less than human. Trump has employed dehumanization as a political tool from the start - of refugees, of migrants- of Muslims. By his pardon of Arpaio, he has metaphorically pardoned his own cruel and divisive approach to politics. It is a further step toward Trump's normalization and entrenchment of bigotry in our own public life."

My original comment follows:

ilw.com readers will note that I have already previously commented on the significance of Donald Trump's August 25 unpardonable pardon of the racist former Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, a pardon which has now been strongly condemned by Congressional leaders in both parties.


As my comments, and the mounting storm of protests against the pardon not only by immigration advocates and Latino community spokesmen but by some of America's leading civil rights groups such as the ACLU, Urban League and NAACP indicate, the immediate reaction to the pardon dealt with its racial aspects.

Pardoning a government official who openly boasted about tormenting Latino immigrants in what he himself called "concentration camp" conditions unquestionably has racial implications not only for immigrant groups, but for all Americans of color, to whom Trump's pardon of Arpaio was also clearly a message of hatred and contempt.

But, even though no one could possibly deny that racial implications of the pardon, there was another message in the pardon that was even more ominous.

This was Trump's support for a law enforcement official whom Trump called a "patriot" but who in fact ran his sheriff's office as a despot, not only tormenting his immigrant victims, but also hounding and persecuting his opponents or anyone else whom he considered an enemy.

This aspect of Arpaio's career as sheriff, as well as the frightening results of a full Justice Department investigation into his activities, form the subject of an expose by Margaret Talbot in the August 25 New Yorker Magazine.

It is a revealing example of how allowing a government official to act a an autocrat toward minority immigrants can lead to the extinction of democracy for Americans as well. Talbot's article, which also has a link to the full report of 2011 DOJ investigation of Arpaio's conduct as sheriff, should serve as a warning to America, not as a model for this country's president to support and emulate.

The New Yorker article:

Why Does Donald Trump Like Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

is available at


The Guardian also has a good summary of the authoritarian implications of Trump's pardon, as seen by legal experts and former White House officials, in the following August 26 article:


Talbot writes about Arpaio's activities as follows in her New Yorker article:

"Arpaio, throughout his tenure, specialized in meeting out theatrical punishments both petty and cruel. He required that detainees [mainly Latino immigrants] wear old-fashioned, black and white striped uniforms and pink underwear...He brought back chain gangs, including for women and juveniles. He housed detainees outdoors, under Army-surplus tents, in Phoenix temperatures that regularly soar well above a hundred degrees."

Talbot continues:

"'I put them [again, mainly Latino immigrants] up at the dump, the dog pound, the waste disposal plant,' Arpaio told my colleague William Finnegan...

Finnegan described a federal investigation that found that

deputies had used stun guns on prisoners already strapped in a 'restraint chair'. The family of one man who died after being forced into the restraint chair was awarded more than six million dollars as the result of a suit filed in federal court. The family of another man killed in the restraint chair got $8.25 million in a pretrial settlement."

Is the above report about America, or is it about Nazi concentration camps such as Dachau or Buchenwald? It is hard to tell the difference. One can see why Arpaio accurately described his own jails as "concentration camps". No one would argue with that.

But is this what Trump meant when he called Arpaio a "patriot"? What does this say about Trump's attitudes toward Latino and other non-white immigrants, including but not limited to Joe Arpaio's victims?

But the issue involved in Trump's pardon of Arpaio goes beyond the torture and killing of Latino immigrants during Arpaio's tenure as sheriff. It also involves Arpaio's attempts, similar to those of any tinpot dictator, to retaliate against his critics or political opponents, as Talbot also describes in her article:

"Like Trump, Arpaio regards reporters, activists and critics of his policies as personal enemies as well as enemies of the people. The Justice Department investigation found that his department
had: 'engaged in a pattern of retaliating against individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech.' It had 'arrested individuals without cause, filed meritless complaints against the political adversaries of Sheriff Arpaio and initiated unfounded civil lawsuits and investigations of individuals critical of MCSO's policies and practices.'"

Talbot's article also goes on to describe how Arpaio's deputies staged late night raids on the executives of a publication which had criticized Arpaio and arrested both men on groundless charges which the county attorney declined to pursue because they had no merit. Talbot's article also states:

"Local activists who applauded when someone made critical remarks about Arpaio at a Board of Supervisor's meeting were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Arpaio had a private investigator follow the wife of a judge who had ruled against him. And so on."

As mentioned above, the full Department of Justice investigation report on Arpaio's activities is available on a link contained in Talbot's above article. The DOJ report can also be accessed at:


The above is enough
to show that Arpaio was not merely trying to protect America against illegal immigration, as Trump misleadingly claimed when he issued the pardon, but was a despot who exploited public feelings against Latino and other minority immigrants in order to engage in his own penchant for sadism toward immigrant detainees and seize as much power as he could in his position.

By not only pardoning Arpaio, but also endorsing his "patriotic" violence against immigrants and attempts to intimidate and persecute American citizens who opposed him, Trump is showing, more clearly and dramatically than ever before, what his own vision is for America - a racist dictatorship, in which neither immigrants nor American citizens of color have any rights, and where the only law is whatever Donald Trump himself says it is.

The American people can prevent this from happening and preserve their own freedoms only by protecting the rights of the people who are most vulnerable in our society - the Latino and other minority immigrants whom Joe Arpaio, Donald Trump, and Trump's white supremacist, neo-Nazi supporters - the ones who wreaked havoc in Charlottesville and who cheered wildly in Phoenix when Trump promised to pardon sheriff Joe Arpaio - have been trying to persecute the most.

In closing, it would be a major mistake for immigrant rights supporters to look at Trump's Arpaio pardon in isolation, as if it were only a move directed against unauthorized immigrants, or Latino immigrants. Every move that the president makes regarding immigration has to be looked in in context as part of a larger strategy, one that includes not only persecuting and, in Arpaio's case, torturing, less skilled or educated immigrants who may be in the US without legal permission; but also building a border wall of shame as a symbol to nullify the message of the Statue of Liberty and show the world that Latino immigrants are not wanted in the United States; while banning potentially hundreds of millions of immigrants from Muslim countries from even applying for visas because of their religion; and, most recently in the case of the RAISE Act which has now been introduced in Congress with Trump's strong support, RAISING the bar to legal immigration to the US so high that only immigrants from English-speaking countries, or European countries where English is widely spoken and understood, would be able to come to the United States.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants receive work visas and green cards.

Roger's practice includes both employment-based and family immigration, concentrating on H-1B specialty occupation and O-1 extraordinary ability work visas; and green cards through labor certification and though opposite sex or same sex marriage. Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com