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Joe Arpaio, Arizona Sheriff, Accused Of Racism, Defends 'Birther' Posse

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Local news station KNXV-TV of Phoenix interviewed Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio Monday about his efforts to investigate President Barack Obama's birth certificate and his views on Latinos.

"First of all, about 300 people signed petitions," Arpaio said of the investigation into Obama's birth certificate. "I am the chief law enforcement officer, they asked me to look at that situation. I don't dump everything in the wastebasket. So I have my 'Cold Case Posse' which I've had for five years. It's free; it doesn't cost a penny to the taxpayers. Made up of ex-cops and some lawyers, so let them look at it."

President Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1961, but so-called "birthers" have long argued that Obama is not in fact a U.S. citizen and have challenged the president to produce his long-form birth certificate as evidence. After ignoring the controversy for months, the White House released the president's long-form birth certificate in April, but even that has not silenced his critics.

The next question to Arpaio was why he does not punish employers for hiring undocumented immigrants but sends undocumented immigrants to jail. He replied that the law against employers is a civil law, not a criminal one, and therefore falls outside his purview, and that he "locked up" those with "false identification."

Arpaio is infamous for his publicity stunts as sheriff, including making inmates wear pink underwear, conducting immigration sweeps in Latino neighborhoods, and moving inmates between jails in chains. The majority of inmates picked up in his sweeps are undocumented immigrants.

The next question came in from a Facebook user: "Why are you a racist against Latinos?"

Arpaio chuckled. "Well I'm not going to get into my personal life, and grandkids, and daughter-in-laws. I don't have to defend myself against that vicious attack. So, he can have his opinion -- I know what I am."

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Filed by Luke Johnson
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