Phoenix, January 17, 2011—At his inauguration today, Governor Joe Arpaio activated the Arizona Army National Guard to “round up illegals” and called for a “Hispanic registry” to identify “non-citizens.”
Arpaio’s inaugural speech, and emerging plans for his administration, focused entirely on advancing a statewide crackdown on undocumented immigrants. He announced that his first act as Governor “this afternoon” will be to mobilize some five hundred members of the state’s Army National Guard to supplement law enforcement officers in eight Arizona counties “facing an invasion of illegals.” The Governor also stated that “additional troops will be mobilized in the coming weeks and months until we put a stop to this takeover by foreign nationals.” He indicated that “the first Guard units will “be on the ground within three weeks.”
The Governor also announced that he will push the legislature for quick enactment of his proposed “Hispanic Registry,” a bill that would compel all persons “with a Hispanic surname” to register at their county courthouse, provide proof of citizenship, as well as the names of all immediate family members residing in the state. The Registry has been a highly contentious proposal even among some of Arpaio’s supporters, particularly among fiscal conservatives who question its costs. Arpaio indicated today that “Registry costs will be borne by registrants, with each adult paying $25 for the service. This is a small price to pay for the privilege of American citizenship, and I’m sure that even my Hispanic friends will agree.”
Arpaio, the controversial former Sheriff of Maricopa County, took the 2010 Governor’s race by a landslide, building off his popularity for cracking down on “illegal immigrants.” As early as 2009 he was the leading candidate for the office, though he had not announced his run.
Arpaio won in spite of—many say because of—being indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for federal civil rights violations and the federal takeover of the Sheriff’s Department. Questioned yesterday about his indictment and about the impact of new comprehensive immigration reform legislation on his agenda, Arpaio said, “Bring ‘em on. Bring on the boys from Washington with their lawsuits and laws. We’ll be glad to show them what law enforcement looks like in Arizona. They’ll be packing to get back to Washington quick as they can, and they can take all these illegals with them.”
Even the date of the new Governor’s inauguration was controversial. Pressed by civil rights leaders to avoid the Martin Luther King holiday, an Arpaio spokeswoman said, “We believe that this is, in fact, the most important day of the month to celebrate the new Governor, who brings to the office a well-known record of rigorous law enforcement, for which Dr. King was certainly not known.”
Law enforcement was heavy at the inauguration, attended by a nearly all-white crowd, many of whom waved pink underwear. The former Sheriff, now Governor, compelled prisoners to wear the garment as part of his jail control strategy. Clearly pleased by the demonstration, Arpaio thanked his followers for their support. “Now,” he stated, “I intend to use the power given me by the citizens of this great state to assure Arizona’s safety, security, and well-being. We’ve put up long enough with this invasion. As of today the good people of Arizona have their state back!”
With a flourish before leaving the podium, he signed the order activating the Arizona Army National Guard, and pressed his proposed Hispanic Registry legislation into the hands of Arizona Senate and House leaders, who have enthusiastically voiced their support.