Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for his tough immigration enforcement tactics, said he would run for Sen. Jeff Flake's (R-Ariz.) seat when he leaves office.
“I have a lot to offer," Arpaio, 85, told the Washington Examiner. During an interview published on Tuesday, Arpaio reiterated his support for President Donald Trump, who pardoned him in August after he allegedly failed to follow court orders and faced six months in prison.
Trump's close affiliation with Arpaio will likely help the former sheriff during his Senate race. During a rally in Phoenix last year, Trump provoked cheers when he asked the audience if they liked Arpaio.
Arpaio served as Maricopa County's sheriff for 24 years until 2016 when a Democrat defeated him.
“Being a U.S. senator is a little different than being the sheriff, because you can do a lot of things in the U.S. Senate, and I have many plans, believe me," Arpaio said.
Arpaio — who was held in criminal contempt by a judge for disobeying a court order against him rounding up individuals suspected of illegal immigration — said he would continue pushing for tougher immigration enforcement.
“I’m not going to get into my personal life, but I will say we have four grandkids and some have a different ethnic and racial background. I don’t say that. I don’t use my grandkids. So, I have a soft spot, but still, I’m going to do my job. You have to do it," he said.
Arpaio also commented on the controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, which the Trump administration ended last year:
“When they come to your attention that they’re here illegally, these young people, deport them back to Mexico — or whatever — and then try to put them on a fast track to come back into the United States legally with special permits. What’s wrong with that? They’d say they don’t know where their home country is, so let them go there and spend six months, because it might take that long to do paperwork to get them here legally and let them see their home country and see what it's really like. They ought to be proud where they came from. I’m proud being an Italian American. I’m proud of Italy. I’m proud my father, mother came over, proud of it. So, you could kill two birds with one stone.”
On Monday, Republican and Democratic lawmakers proposed a DACA fix that would enhance border security and provide a path to citizenship. But it's unclear if Democrats and Republicans will reach a compromise. While Trump indicated he wouldn't sign DACA legislation without border wall funding, Congressional Democrats balked at that idea.