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Former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio told Univision News that he will "never" apologize to Latinos for the fear he inflicted on the Arizona community with his hunt for undocumented immigrants in work places, neighborhoods, and on the highways.
His persistence in using some of those tactics led to his conviction in July, though he received a controversial presidential pardon two weeks ago.
Donald Trump's pardon of Arpaio was unusual because presidents usually forgive criminals who have expressed at least some degree of regret. Arpaio claims he did nothing wrong.
"An apology for doing my job? That would never happen," Arpaio said during an exclusive interview at his office in Fountain Hills, Arizona. "I think if I stood on a big tower and I screamed at everyone, at all Hispanics, and I said that I disagreed with all the deportations and said 'I love you all' it wouldn't make any difference." He believes he will be demonized by the media no matter what he says.
The energetic 85-year-old former sheriff of Maricopa County, was convicted of disobeying the federal judge who ordered him to stop illegally detaining Latino drivers on suspicion that they were undocumented. He was awaiting a sentence that would likely have resulted in only brief jail time.
Trump, his political ally, granted him a pardon without consulting with the Department of Justice, in a break with usual protocol.
Arpaio's pardon, so soon after Trump's repeal Tuesday of the program for young undocumented immigrants known as DACA, has angered the Latino community, exacerbating racial tensions. Arpaio has no issue with the timing of the two decisions and says that the Dreamers "must wait a little and have some confidence in the president."
"By the way, I'm not a Dreamer," he said. "My mother and father came here legally from Italy. I’m a U.S. citizen, proud to be a citizen of the United States. My whole life was dedicated to defending my country. So I think he (Trump) knows what he’s doing. I back him up on that. I back him up on anything he does, OK?"
Since he was pardoned two weeks ago, Arpaio stayed in Fountain Hills, a community for moneyed retirees where he lives with his wife in a house by a lake and where many adore him.
Unsatisfied with Trump's clemency, the former sheriff has asked the federal judge who convicted him, Susan Bolton, to clear his criminal record. The judge has said she wants to hear from prosecutors at a hearing on Oct 4.
Arpaio ended up facing the possibility of jail because he focused for years on detaining undocumented immigrants, a role usually reserved for federal authorities. He blamed his July 31 conviction on a witchhunt by the administration of Barack Obama, even though his trial was conducted under the watch of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
During the interview, Arpaio emphasizes that he's not against Latinos and twice he said he hired a lot of them at the sheriff's office, even immigrants on green cards.
"I don’t really think they hate me when you get right down to it. I get threats. But I don’t get the threats from the Hispanics," he adds.
Back into politics?
To avoid rubbing salt in the wound, Arpaio and the president have avoided appearing together in the days before and after the pardon, which has been criticized by some prominent Republicans such as House speaker, Paul Ryan, and the two Senators from Arizona, Jeff Flake and John McCain.
Arpaio says that he has not even spoken on the phone with the president since his lawyer handed him a mailed pardon document from the White House. "I hate to say this but I'm very sad because the president is taking some heat on this," Arpaio said. "I never asked for a pardon, I did not talk to him, after months, he did what he thinks is right, not just for me but for the forces of order."
The presidential pardon has raised Arpaio's profile as an immigration hawk in the midst of growing racial tensions.
Arpaio is now planning to reap the rewards. Republicans from other parts of the country are looking for him to participate in events - he will be in Las Vegas and Fresno, California in the coming weeks - and he's speeding up the publication of his third book, which he says deals with "corruption in government."
Arpaio recently told the Washington Examiner that he does not rule out launching a campaign against Flake. Local reporters, who are used to his bravado, have not taken him seriously.
In his conversation with Univision News the sheriff showed little appetite for campaigning again.
"I do not know if I'm going to run. You get tired sometimes," Arpaio said. "If I do I don't know which office. For sure it's not going to be president, because we have a good president."
This article was originally published Sept 9 but due to Hurricane Irma we are republishing it in case readers/viewers were distracted by the storm coverage.