PHOENIX | The man who likes to call himself "America's toughest sheriff," Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., is planning a Friday showdown with the feds.
The sheriff has announced he will defy the U.S. Department of Homeland Security by doing a street sweep for illegal immigrants one day after the expiration of the agreement that has permitted him to conduct such operations for the past three years. The sheriff has said he expects the deal not to be extended, though federal officials have remained publicly noncommittal.
Deputies, and Sheriff Arpaio, will stake out an intersection somewhere in the Phoenix metro area to stop cars for traffic violations - everything from speeding to broken taillights to driving while intoxicated. Both drivers and passengers will be held if deputies determine that they are illegal immigrants - regardless of how minor was the initial infraction.
Sheriff Arpaio is charging ahead because he claims he has jurisdiction under a 1996 federal law allowing police to detain someone briefly if that person could be in the country illegally.
"We will call Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] to see if they will take them from us," Sheriff Arpaio told The Washington Times. "And if they tell me to let them go, I guess I'll have to transport them myself to the border [about 175 miles] and turn them over to the Border Patrol."
Sheriff Arpaio, 77 but looking 10 years younger, has been shaking up Maricopa County for 17 years, and he's not ready to quiet down: "I just got re-elected last year, but I'm going to run again, and I've already raised a lot of money. They'll have to put up with me for another seven years."