Joe Arpaio, the notorious Arizona sheriff whose crackdown on undocumented immigrants sparked an anti-immigrant movement among conservatives, had an unlikely meeting on Monday with Jane Sanders, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Arpaio, who endorsed fellow Obama birther Donald Trump‘s campaign for president earlier this year, gave Sanders a tour of his infamous “Tent City” jail, an extension of the Maricopa County jail furnished with surplus military tents.
Sanders was campaigning for her husband in Arizona, where she has been focusing on the issue of immigration and has been meeting with undocumented immigrant families.
According to local news reports, Arpaio invited Sanders on the tour when he heard that she was meeting with immigrants outside of his facility. Some of the people detained at Tent City have been targeted by raids and threatened with deportation.
Video of the encounter shows Sanders asking Arpaio several questions about Trump, wondering if the sheriff was “concerned” about the GOP presidential front-runner’s racist rhetoric.
Arpaio claimed Trump’s comments were “taken out of context” by the media and shrugged off Sanders’ points.
“I don’t see him trying to divide people,” Arpaio said. “You have people running against him. It’s very unusual for the so-called establishment going after Trump.”
After the tour, Sanders tweeted that she also asked Arpaio “several questions to which he had no answers.”
Sanders said Arpaio admitted the conditions in the facility are brutal, with temperatures in Tent City sometimes reaching 130 degrees.
Sanders said her visit with immigrant families “was much more substantive and reflective of the harsh realities” they face than was her meeting with Arpaio. She said her experiences on Monday “made it clear that we need real immigration and justice reform to keep families safe.”
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