Geraldo Rivera told a Latino Congressman Saturday that he might get stopped on the streets of Phoenix by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio as a result of the new anti-immigration law signed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer the previous day.
Discussing the newly-passed legislation with guests Arpaio and Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) on "Geraldo at Large," the host ungraciously started the segment by asking, "Sheriff, how do you define reasonable suspicion? Is it like obscenity that you don't exactly know how to define it but you know it when you see it?"
Arpaio responded, "[D]uring the course of the duties of law enforcement, my deputies, if someone doesn't have a license, doesn't speak English, ten guys stashed in back of a van, I think that's reasonable action or probable cause to take action."
Moments later, Rivera quipped, "Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, let me just warn you, maybe if you were walking around the streets of Phoenix, Sheriff Joe might stop you. You look sort of Latino, we're not sure even though you have a storied family background" (video follows with transcript, hat-tips to @Cubachi and The Right Scoop):
GERALDO RIVERA, HOST: Sheriff Joe Arpaio on your left, Maricopa County sheriff joins us as does Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart on the right, Republican of Miami. Sheriff, how do you define reasonable suspicion? Is it like obscenity that you don't exactly know how to define it but you know it when you see it.?
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO: No, you keep asking me that Geraldo. Once again, during the course of the duties of law enforcement, my deputies, if someone doesn't have a license, doesn't speak English, ten guys stashed in back of a van, I think that's reasonable action or probable cause to take action. But let me just say this: the Obama administration first 60 days in office sent the civil rights division after me. It's been a year and a half they have been investigating me and nothing has happened. I feel very comfortable that this law will pass muster. It just gives me another tool in law enforcement to get the job done.
RIVERA: Be that as it may, Sheriff, in your press release praising the signing into law of the bill you claimed 38,000 illegal immigrants were investigated, arrested, and detained by you, but I can't find anything in your literature that tells me how many people you stopped who were citizens who said, "Just because I have a mustache, just cause I'm Latino, I'm fifth generation Mexican-American," for example.
ARPAIO: Well, you know, we stop everybody that we feel is violating the law. Doesn't matter who they are. When they are booked into the jail we investigate everybody. 200,000. 32,000 we prove are here illegally. When we do our crime suppression operations, and by the way, for all those critics out there, I'm coming back next week in the city of Phoenix with my posse and deputy sheriffs to do another crime suppression operation. So all this heat, all this stuff coming from the President, I don't even know why he is interfering with the Arizona, the people of Arizona. And by the way, the President should understand: we, this law mirrors the federal law. So if he has a problem with the state law he's got to have a problem with his own federal law. So you ought to be looking at the federal law.
RIVERA: Well, I believe that we should be looking at the federal law. Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, let me just warn you maybe if you were walking around the streets of Phoenix, Sheriff Joe might stop you. You look sort of Latino, we're not sure even though you have a storied family background. I'm gonna let you respond to Sheriff Joe.
Was Rivera joking? Or does it even matter if this was said in jest?
After all, Rivera isn't Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert.
The look on Arpaio's face made it clear the Sheriff didn't appreciate the remark, and took it as a slam.
Given the sensitivity of this subject, was it fair of Geraldo to take a swipe at the Sheriff even if it was in jest?