Arizona’s former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio told a fundraiser in Fresno, California, on Friday evening that the best solution for beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be to send them back to their countries of origin and allow them to apply to immigrate legally through a fast-tracked process.
President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio in August after being convicted of criminal contempt of court for ignoring a court order not to have his officers detain illegal immigrants on the roadways. The former sheriff remains popular among conservative border hawks, and was in Fresno to raise money for the local Republican Party. The fundraiser had to be moved due to security concerns about protesters, who showed up in their hundreds anyway.
According to Fresno Bee reporter Rory Appleton, who was invited to the event, Arpaio entertained the crowd by reiterating his belief that former President Barack Obama faked his birth certificate; saying that NFL players who refuse to stand for the national anthem should be fired; and declaring that the best defense against mass shootings would be to have someone legally carrying a firearm in the crowd who could shoot back.
But his answer to a question about DACA was somewhat surprising, Appleton notes:
The immigration question came up later, when an audience member asked Arpaio’s opinion on DACA. The sheriff said America should “put them on an airplane” back to their country, then “fast track them back.” This drew some applause and cheers, but it was not as warm a response as he received when bashing football players or talking about his gun.
President Trump is reportedly negotiating a deal on DACA with Democrats, after canceling the program last month but giving Congress a six-month window in which to find a legislative solution for its roughly 800,000 beneficiaries.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.