Former Archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, spoke out on Monday against President Donald Trump’s pardon of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, calling it “disgusting.”
“The former sheriff’s tenure was marked by racial profiling, harassment of our Latino brothers and sisters, and the disruption of immigrant communities. He created fear and terror among so many immigrants, and not just in Arizona,” Mahony said in a statement on his blog.
On Friday August 25, Trump announced in a two paragraph statement that after 50 years of “honorable service to our Nation, he is [a] worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”
The 85-year-old former sheriff is one of the most divisive law enforcement officials in the United States and has been widely criticized for his treatment of undocumented workers, migrants, and other detainees.
In 2011 the Department of Justice accused him of “unconstitutional policing” and in July of this year Arpaio was convicted by a federal court judge.
The decision to grant him pardon has been met by bipartisan backlash, including by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York, and Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
Arpaio, who is a Catholic, has frequently boasted of his law and order style governance and has been widely accused of running prisons that were known for overcrowding and unsanitary conditions.
In his statement, Mahony denounced both Arpaio’s treatment of immigrants and accused the president of undermining the rule of law.
“Rather than upholding it, President Trump’s pardon flouts and undermines the rule of law. It also sends a dangerous signal to law enforcement throughout the country that they, too, can ignore due process and profile and harass persons of color, especially Latinos,” said Mahony.
“This pardon rekindles the fear and terror so rampant among our immigrant peoples. The police need good relationships with immigrants, and our immigrants need an understanding and helpful police force to protect them,” he continued.
Mahony, who served as Archbishop of Los Angeles from 1985 to 2011, has dedicated much of his retirement on raising awareness of the plight of refugees and immigrants.
In an interview with Crux, Mahony said he was compelled to speak out because “it seems to me the President is validating some very terrible behavior.
“What has troubled me over the years is the fear, the anxiety, and the terror among immigrants and I felt that this decision would encourage others in enforcement to fail to treat all peoples with dignity, respect, and according to the law,” he told Crux.
Mahony is the first member of the Catholic hierarchy to speak out publicly on the Arpaio pardon.