Immigrant rights advocate and independent journalist Roberto Lovato is worried (Huffington Post, 2/26/09) that Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Department Detective Aaron Douglas “deals with the world’s media more than most” when flacking for Joe Arpaio–“America’s Toughest Sheriff”–“Though he is a local official, his is often the first voice heard by many of the foreign correspondents covering immigration in the United States”:
The proliferation of stories in international media and in global forums about the GuantÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÂ¡namo-like problems in the country’s immigrant detention system–death, abuse and neglect at the hands of detention facility guards; prolonged and indefinite detention of immigrants (including children and families) denied habeas corpus and other fundamental rights; filthy, overcrowded and extremely unhealthy facilities; denial of basic health services–are again tarnishing the U.S. image abroad, according to several experts….
For her part, Alison Parker, deputy director of the U.S. program of Human Rights Watch, fears a global government “race to the bottom” around immigrant detention policies.
In Parker’s view, Sheriff Arpaio’s abuses “increase the risk that this will give the green light to other governments to be just as abusive or more abusive as the United States.” But how do these fears translate in the United States’ own media? Well, Fox for one appears unconcerned, or even thrilled, having made the racist sheriff a reality TV star with his own series: Smile … You’re Under Arrest!.