Ex-US Treasurer: Arpaio pardon is one more insulting anti-Hispanic move by Trump

President Trump’s pardon Friday night of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona leaves me disappointed and exhausted by yet another action the occupant of the White House has taken to insult and degrade the entire Hispanic community. The president’s many anti-Hispanic words and deeds show how little he thinks of an entire group of fine and hardworking people.

Arpaio, who was sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona, was convicted in July of criminal contempt for failing to obey a judge’s order to end traffic patrols that allegedly targeted immigrants based solely on suspicion of their illegal immigration status. He was to have been sentenced Oct. 5 and could have received up to six months in jail. He said he did nothing wrong.

I am a proud American citizen who has lived in this great country since 1972, and also proud to have been born in Mexico.

I have also been a proud Republican since becoming a U.S. citizen and was honored to serve as treasurer of the United States from 2001 to 2003 – the first immigrant to hold that post – under the great Republican President George W. Bush.  

Arpaio epitomizes the absolute worst enemy of the Hispanic community. In his self-proclaimed desire to “uphold” the law, he broke it and was found guilty. The president has it wrong; the sheriff didn’t “get convicted for doing his job;” he got convicted for racially profiling Latinos.

I was disappointed when Donald Trump started his presidential campaign by calling Mexicans rapists, drug dealers, and criminals. Since then, he has talked unrelentingly and cavalierly about building a “great, beautiful wall” between Mexico and the United States, and has repeatedly made the absurd claim that Mexico would pay for the wall. Yet now he is asking Congress to pay for it.

Our president also threatens again and again to end the North American Free Trade Agreement, which expanded trade between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Instead of building bridges to our neighbors, he wants to erect a barrier to wall off our entire southern border.

And during the presidential campaign, Trump wrongly stated that a judge couldn’t be fair to him because the judge was Mexican – even though the judge was born in Indiana, to Mexican immigrant parents who became American citizens.

For 16 years, presidents of the United States have attended the White House Cinco de Mayo celebration, a holiday marking the Mexican Army’s victory over French forces in a battle in 1862. But President Trump did not care enough to bother to attend.

The list of anti-Hispanic actions goes on and on and on.

During the presidential campaign, my disbelief in what Trump was saying turned to disappointment and in turn to anger. His constant hurling of insults at my community left me no choice but to vote for his opponent.

I don’t feel I deserted the Republican Party. I feel that my great party, founded by Abraham Lincoln, was hijacked by Donald Trump.

Voting against Trump and for Hillary Clinton was an act of conscience. How could I look my children and my grandchild in the eyes and excuse Trump’s repugnant behavior toward women, toward people with disabilities, and toward the Mexican community as just campaign rhetoric?

Once our electoral college (not the voters) gave Trump the presidency, I wrote an op-ed to wish him well. For the benefit of our wonderful country I hoped and prayed he would prove all of us who voted against him to be wrong; sadly, he has not done so.

And now on the heels of his most disgraceful performance as president after the tragedy in Charlottesville – equating Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan with those who opposed them – the president has pardoned the criminally convicted Sheriff Arpaio.

Arpaio epitomizes the absolute worst enemy of the Hispanic community. In his self-proclaimed desire to “uphold” the law, he broke it and was found guilty. The president has it wrong; the sheriff didn’t “get convicted for doing his job;” he got convicted for racially profiling Latinos.

Arpaio made everyone who looks like me fear the police. Now, the president’s pardoning of the disgraced sheriff will ensure that many more Hispanics vote against the Republican Party, and send more Republican candidates down to defeat at the polls – just as Arpaio was defeated when he ran for re-election.

Most of my Latino Republican friends remain silent; many even voted for Donald Trump. I do not judge them, even though they put party ahead of principles and ahead of their community.

A handful Hispanics I know even went to work for the Trump administration, because they said we needed someone at the table.

Well, I was privileged to be at the table with the compassionate conservative President George W. Bush; he listened to us, so no wonder he received 44 percent of the Latino vote.

It pains me to wonder how Latinos can sit at the table of President Trump right now, where it is clear to me that they have not been listened to. I cannot imagine what kind of conversations take place at that table, if any, and how they must feel with every passing day, as it only gets worse for our community.

To paraphrase the writer and poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox, to sin by silence when one should protest makes you both complicit and a coward. I will not be silent as Hispanics in this country are under unprecedented attack by our president.

Rosario Marin was Treasurer of the United States under President George W. Bush.