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Arpaio talks immigration with College Republicans

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks to the media on Friday after speaking to students and community members at the West campus. (Luis C. Lopez | The State Press)

He is a man who needs no introduction. A man who used the back door of the lecture room he spoke at on the West campus to avoid about 20 students and protestors who acknowledged his arrival by shouting “coward.”

He is the same man who, once inside, downplayed his controversial image by cracking jokes about his age.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he doesn’t Twitter and that his only way of writing is using an old Smith Corona typewriter. Arpaio transitioned from the hostile political mood outside to create an inviting conversation inside.

The College Republicans at the West campus hosted an event on Friday evening in which they told Arpaio he could talk about anything he wanted.

“This semester we’ve had five Republican figures come out,” said political science and criminal justice senior Michael McKitterick,

president-elect and current vice chair of membership for the College Republicans.

“We wanted prominent Republican figures that have been influential in the last few years,” he said. “Joe Arpaio is one of them.”

But as expected, the free reign of topics and discussions was narrowed down to an issue synonymous with Arpaio: illegal immigration.

“I’ve done a lot of things before illegal immigration,” Arpaio said. “Why are they after me now? Because of a law I’m enforcing.”

Arpaio argued that his image has been tainted by biased media coverage. He told the audience of about 130 students and guests that several years ago he was a hero to the Latino community, and that now people cast him in a negative light.

Arpaio added that he was glad to lead the charge against criminals who crossed the border.

“I’m doing what I have to do, and I’m glad to be a poster boy,” he said. “If you don’t like them, change the laws.”

After the event, Arpaio met reporters and answered questions, then he made his exit similar to the way he came in.

Screaming protestors and a security detail led Arpaio to a black Chrysler 300. Protestors demanded justice, but others applauded Arpaio as the car drove away.

“One of the things I love about Sheriff Joe is that he is a maverick,” said Benjamin Goodrich, a history junior and a newly elected senator of the Associated Students of Arizona State University at West campus. “He is not willing to give up an inch, and I respect him for that,” he said.

Others, like political science senior Grace Daniels, voiced their disagreement with Arpaio’s policies through protesting. Daniels said her protest is not just about immigration, but also about what she said are

human-rights violations.

“I think it is a disgrace to bring [in] someone who is under federal investigation for human-rights abuses,” she said.

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