Arizona’s Toughest Sheriff Joe Arpaio brings his round-’em-up-and-deport-’em politics to Las Vegas on latest stop of Tea Party Express. In a packed saloon on the edges of town last night, the Tea Party Express battle bus rolled in and fired up a crowd of about 2,000 supporters with lurid tales of the war against the illegal hordes.
The headline speaker was “America’s Toughest Sheriff”, Joe Arpaio, from Maricopa County in Arizona, which covers the state’s capital city, Phoenix. He has lit the fuse of the immigration debate in America with his hardcore round-’em-up-and-deport-’em politics.
As he came on stage the crowd gave a huge roar of approval, and a Tea Party band sang: “We stand with you Arizona / The rule of law in this land / What part of ‘illegal’ don’t they understand.” “It’s very simple,” Arpaio began. “I have the solution, but nobody wants to listen to me.” The crowd booed.
The simple solution he offers is to round up largely Hispanic workers in factories and farms, filter them for those who lack immigration documents, and slap those people into a makeshift prison he erected using tents in the desert ahead of their deportation. “You guys have got deserts here,” he said to the adoring throng. “Why don’t you put tents up here?” Arizona’s recent attempt to extend Arpaio’s tough approach across the whole of the state provoked a heated national debate. The law is at a standstill pending legal challenges, including several from the federal government.
“I’ve been accused of being a racist and every name in the book. The federal government is investigating me. But every time they come after me my polls go higher,” Arpaio said.Immigration has been one of the most contentious issues in the tight race in Nevada between Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate, and the Tea Party-backed Sharron Angle, who is trying to unseat him.
Angle has accused Reid in TV advertising of extending social security payments to illegal immigrants. He has accused her of lying on the issue. With unemployment running at almost 15% in Nevada – the highest rate in the US – and more than 20% in Las Vegas if you add in underemployment, the level of anger at the Tea Party saloon was palpable. “Dump Reid” stickers and T-shirts were everywhere.
“Save our liberty from socialism,” read a banner with a plastic model of the Statue of Liberty attached to it. The display was wielded by Jody Black, who receives unemployment benefit – having recently had to shut down her antique shop in Las Vegas – as well as Medicare health provision as a older person.
Both forms of assistance come from the government, which she blames for killing off innovation and turning America into a socialist regime. How does she square the circle of her beliefs and the personal subsidies she gets from government?
“We’ve been contributing to the fund, it’s our money and we want it back. We had no choice. It’s the liberals who have been taking money out of the fund and giving it to the illegals.” As she spoke the band played on. “It’s time they heard these words: Let our borders be secured / With Arizona we should take a stand.”