Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON — It began with the retired archbishop of Los Angeles saying he was “troubled” and “disgusted” with President Donald Trump’s pardon of convicted former Arizona Sheriff Joseph Arpaio.
In an Aug. 28 blog, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles, bluntly addressed racial profiling that he said Latinos suffered at the hands of Arpaio, former sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona. In late July, Arpaio was found in criminal contempt of court for failing to stop detaining people he “suspected” of being undocumented immigrants. Arpaio detractors say that meant stopping people with brown skin and that was his only criteria for determining suspicion.
One of those detained was Dan Magos, a U.S. citizen, who, along with his wife, was stopped for no reason and harassed by the sheriff in 2009 in Phoenix. With help from the American Civil Liberties Union, Magos filed a lawsuit against Arpaio, and ultimately the case wound up in court. Different judges warned Arpaio to stop his practices, but he nevertheless continued, placing him in contempt of court.
Cardinal Mahony said Arpaio’s tenure was marked by “harassment of our Latino brothers and sisters, and the disruption of immigrant communities. He created fear and terror among so many immigrants, and not just in Arizona. Children here in California were afraid to go to school because of what they heard from Phoenix.”
But President Trump saw things a different way and said via Twitter that the former sheriff was a “patriot” and “He kept Arizona safe.” On Aug. 25, he pardoned Arpaio, who has been identified by several news outlets as Catholic.
Cardinal Mahony said that Instead of upholding the law, the president’s pardon “flouts and undermines the rule of law. It also sends a dangerous signal to law enforcement throughout the country that they, too, can ignore due process and profile and harass persons of color, especially Latinos.”
“This pardon rekindles the fear and terror so rampant among our immigrant peoples. The police need good relationships with immigrants and our immigrants need an understanding and helpful police force to protect them,” he added.
The retired archbishop also called on “all Catholics and people of goodwill” to raise their voices “and stand up for our immigrant brothers and sisters during this difficult period in their lives and in the life of our country.”
On Aug. 28, Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski also weighed in on Arpaio’s pardon via Twitter, saying that if the president pardoned the sheriff, then Congress should ‘“pardon’ irregular immigrants by passing comprehensive immigration reform.”
The next day, he told Jesuit-run America magazine: “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” meaning that if the sheriff broke the law and received a pardon, then the argument that undocumented criminals who broke the law should be punished, does not hold.
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