I put those concerns to Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix. Sheriff Joe is a noisy supporter of SB 1070 and stricter deportation policies. It is a strange fate of the times that Sheriff Joe has jurisdiction over the Cactus League territory.
“Nobody’s going to go around stopping them at a restaurant, asking for their ID,” Arpaio says.
He pauses and adds, “Unless there’s some other reason to do that.”
Sheriff Joe is a Red Sox fan. Since he was raised outside Boston, he sees his continuous fandom as one more sign of his political consistency. When I reach Sheriff Joe one afternoon, he has just gotten off the DL — he fell on a sidewalk and broke his shoulder in two places. “I know how the ballplayers feel now,” he says.
“Bring those ballplayers to me,” he barks. “I’ll give ‘em a pair of pink underwear.” This is more welcoming than it sounds. For though Arpaio puts pink underwear on county inmates, he also uses it as a gift for visiting celebrities. Sarah Palin got a pair when she toured Arizona last year.
Really, Sheriff Joe wants any Latino ballplayer who fears he might be racially profiled to stop by. “I wish they’d come to my office and come out and meet the sheriff,” he says. “I’ll tell ‘em all the facts about this … We don’t stop people because they look like they’re from somewhere else. I’m an equal-opportunity guy. My guys arrest everybody.”
...To a police officer, Barajas could arouse the same “reasonable suspicion” as Elian Herrera. Barajas’s parents are Mexican immigrants; his skin is olive-colored. But he was born in Ontario, California. He’s as American as Mike Trout. I ask Barajas if he is ever worried about being asked for his papers.
“I don’t know if I should carry my birth certificate or passport. I never thought about it,” he says. “I’m sure it could happen.”
Then Barajas’s eyes narrow. “I think of myself as an American citizen. There’s no reason whatsoever for me to have to carry that around.”