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Mixed Reaction Predicted for Sheriff Arpaio's Oregon Visit

PHOTO: Tough-talking Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio presides over a department with more than 3,400 workers and numerous legal troubles over allegations of racial profiling and discrimination against Latinos. Photo courtesy of Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
PHOTO: Tough-talking Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio presides over a department with more than 3,400 workers and numerous legal troubles over allegations of racial profiling and discrimination against Latinos. Photo courtesy of Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
June 26, 2015

PHOENIX - Arizona is exporting a couple of headline-making commodities to Oregon this weekend: record-breaking hot weather and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The sheriff is to speak at a Saturday rally at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem in support of two state ballot measures there - one to make English the official language of Oregon, and the other to require employers to use the federal E-Verify system to check the citizenship status of job applicants.

Both are seen as anti-immigrant measures, and Jaime Arredondo, secretary-treasurer of the farmworkers' rights group PCUN, said he wouldn't be surprised if Arpaio's appearance backfires.

"It is a big disappointment that they would align themselves with this sheriff that is very controversial," he said. "I think the general perception of it is not a good one, so it's a bad move."

Arpaio is the guest of the group Oregonians for Immigration Reform, and the event is a Republican Party rally. PCUN and other immigrants' rights groups are planning a counter-rally, also on the State Capitol grounds, on Saturday afternoon.

In Maricopa County, the first public forum was held Wednesday by a Community Advisory Board to hear from people about how they've been treated by the sheriff's department. In the case Melendres vs. Arpaio, the sheriff was found guilty of racial profiling and has admitted to not following the court-ordered reforms.

Alessandra Soler, executive director, ACLU of Arizona, said the advisory board wants to know what people think should happen next.

"It was the first meeting where the individuals had an opportunity to share their vents, really, and talk a little bit about their experiences," she said. "It was a good opportunity for them to do that in sort of a safe space. The information has been transmitted to the monitor and the monitor team."

She noted that it is only one of multiple legal challenges faced by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, for which the county has paid millions in legal fees.

Details of Melendres vs. Arpaio are online at cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - AZ