U.S. President Donald Trump gave the strongest indication at a campaign-style rally in Arizona late Tuesday that he will pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an immigration hard-liner who was recently convicted of contempt of court for ignoring a judicial order to halt his immigration patrols.
“The most sacred duty of government is to protect the lives of its citizens and that includes securing our borders and enforcing our immigration laws,” Trump told supporters.
“Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe Arpaio? So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job? He should have had a jury, but you know what, I’ll make a prediction, I think he’ll be just fine, OK? But I won’t do it tonight, because I don’t want to cause any controversy, is that OK? But Sheriff Joe can feel good.”
Border Patrol meeting
Before the political event in the state’s capital city, the president headed to a Marine Corps base in Yuma, along the U.S. border with Mexico. At the main base of operations for the Yuma sector of the U.S. Border Patrol, he inspected enforcement aircraft, including a drone and a helicopter.
The stop was intended to allow Trump to “evaluate USBP operational results, policy initiatives and personnel morale in the lead-up to fiscal year 2018,” an administration official told reporters before the visit began.
WATCH: Trump on former Arizona Sheriff Arpaio
In addition, Trump was discussing “future legislative efforts to support USBP, such as Kate’s Law, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, the border wall, and funding for ICE and Border Patrol agents.”
“You’ve seen it, you’ve lived it, and you elected me to put a stop to it. We are doing a phenomenal job putting a stop to it. That I can tell you,” Trump said during the late night rally.
“Years of uncontrolled immigration have placed enormous pressure on the wages of working families and they’ve put great burdens on local schools and hospitals,” he added.