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Joe Arpaio
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Unfortunately, I fell asleep before Stephen Colbert interviewed Sheriff Joe Arpaio on The Colbert Report this past Monday night, but Alex and I watched a clip of their conversation online this afternoon.

Over the course of a seven minute exchange in which Colbert did most of the talking, the discussion touched on law enforcement, racial profiling, and the border wall. Sheriff Arpaio responded to Colbert’s questions clearly and professionally, and even with a certain measure of grace–especially in light of the fact that a crowd of picketers was outside the building, protesting his treatment of undocumented immigrants.

Watching the interview, it was obvious that Sheriff Arpaio possesses a great deal of knowledge, experience, and passion for law enforcement. But I was troubled by how the pragmatism of his answers glossed over the human costs of his immigration enforcement practices.

For example, when the conversation turned to racial profiling, Arpaio said that identifying undocumented immigrants on sight is “pursuant to [his and his officers’] duties” in enforcing immigration laws. And while that may seem on the surface like a logical answer to the question asked, for me it misses the point.

Arpaio’s response, though calm and seemingly logical, left unacknowledged the suffering that his methods have created in immigrant and Latino communities by spreading fear and dividing families.

We need strong law enforcement, but first we need to be sure that the laws that we’re enforcing are good–that we have policies that work. Currently, our immigration policy is overwhelmingly broken. Enforcing broken laws is dangerous as well as ineffective.

We need pragmatism in our law enforcement, but our pragmatism absolutely must be anchored in compassion and respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every human being.

Watching the interview reaffirmed my belief in how important it is that Unitarian Universalists practice advocacy. The compassionate perspective is so very important, and that’s what we, as people who value both human diversity and interconnectedness, bring to the table on issues of social justice.

What do you think? Please feel free to share your comments and reflections on the video here.

About the Author
Lisa Swanson


  1. Brittanicus

    If America is expected to sustaining its living standards, we must start to conserve our environment and address the use of oil, water and energy. In these current decades we have all observed the deterioration of our highways, infrastructure with clogged traffic lanes that never seem to abate? The continuous requisite for land to build homes, and stretching, concrete pavement that once was farmland. Border states where water supplies are being rationed, because of years of drought. The desperate need for refineries, because of constant production, cannot keep up with demand. Our ailing national electrical grid that is unable to keep up with requirements, owing to the millions of illegal people who slip across our uneasy border and need services. America is growing smaller each day, just like the Amazon rain forests. We are daily encroaching on the wild animals of our lands, who we now find foraging for food in community suburbs–that was once a wilderness. Our President should not be contemplating Amnesty for an unknown number of illegal immigrants. Such would be the forthcoming harbinger of Overpopulation for future generations. According to the Census Bureau with the current immigration level our population will touch close to a half a billion by 2050.

    More than 65 percent of that growth can be attributed to our current immigration rate and irrational polices. Without changing the direction of our current immigration policies, our population by the year 2100 and 2120 will attain the one billion mark. Is this what we want for our own?

    If President Obama introduces a new Immigration policy, this would be a disaster for the new generations of our children? We already settle over 1.5 million new legal immigrants each year in this nation. This is more people than any other country in the world? What we need is an amendment to the 1986 Immigration Control and Reform Act. This would allow highly professional and skilled people, who would contribute in Engineering, Computer and Science technologies. Giving Potential legal newcomers that has something special to offer the American workplace, including education and other layers of future industry. We already have millions of low skilled, many uneducated American workers who remain jobless in this economic morass. If our politicians will restore funding for E-Verify now before it terminates. We can revise it, modify and append to its function, in removing foreign workers from the workplace. As illegal immigrants start their movement from our nation, wages, benefits should slowly start to rise, as employers will have no choice but to hire American workers, instead of cheap labor from foreign lands.

  2. Query

    Let us not get puffed up about ourselves, forgetting that UUs are not the only religious group with a compassionate perspective, valuing both diversity and interconnectedness and practicing advocacy on issues of social justice.


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