President Donald Trump has granted a pardon to former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted in July of criminal contempt charges stemming from his refusal to stop illegally imprisoning suspected undocumented immigrants, according to multiple media reports.
Arpaio is known for his hard-line views on immigration. He was also an early and ardent supporter of Trump, endorsing him in January 2016 and appearing on the presidential campaign trail with the Republican candidate several times.
An unsigned statement from “The White House Office of the Press Secretary” reads, in part, “Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.”
The statement cites Arpaio’s age – 85 – and his 50 years of public service as reasons he is “a worthy candidate for a presidential pardon.”
As sheriff of Maricopa County from 1993 to 2016, Arpaio was frequently accused of racial profiling regarding his practice of arresting and jailing undocumented immigrants, and was sued over the issue in 2007. In 2013, a federal judge ruled the county’s actions violated the Civil Rights Act. This led to a contempt charge when Arpaio’s office refused to yield on its conduct. He was found guilty on July 31 but had not yet been sentenced.
Arpaio was defeated in his own election in November by an almost 13-point margin.