Sheriff Paul Penzone: Separating families is ‘taking the low road’

Jun 19, 2018, 7:36 PM | Updated: Jun 21, 2018, 1:49 pm

Paul Penzone (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)...

Paul Penzone (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said the practice of separating children from families at the border is “taking the low road” and is “not the right way to go about business.”

In an interview with KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac and Gaydos Tuesday, Penzone said that he does not believe the tactic will lead to a beneficial outcome.

“I don’t get why [the Trump administration thinks] that separating them will increase or enhance security on the border, unless it is just to intimidate families that we’re going to take your kids from you — which is really, I didn’t think that’s what we stood for as a nation,” he said.

“There are a lot of things we can do that we can justify to say they are deterrents, but is that really who we want to be, ethically or morally, as people?”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement last month that the government would criminally prosecute everyone who crosses the U.S.-Mexico border illegally has led to the breakup of hundreds of migrant families and sent a new group of thousands of young children into the government’s care.

More than 2,300 minors were separated from their families at the border from May 5 through June 9, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The government has contradicted itself on exactly why this policy is necessary, with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen saying Monday that the policy is not about deterrence. But Steven Wagner with the Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families saying the administration expects it to “result in a deterrence effect.”

President Donald Trump has used the policy to push lawmakers — particularly Democrats — to enact new legislation on border security in a Republican-held Congress.

Penzone said it is “not the right way to go about business” to separate families as a political means in order to reach a desirable end.

“We can still keep families and children with their families and address this issue because there are other things we need to do tactically, structurally, technology, staffing-wise to get it done and this is just a cheap way to get there.

“As moral people, it’s taking the low road and we know it,” Penzone added.

“I’ve seen the same things in other circumstances where the ends justify the means and that always tears away at the fabric of our integrity. If you’re going to do it the right way to get to that outcome, you’ll always stand the test of time. If you’re not, you’re going to cheapen it and diminish and tear away from from the fabric of your integrity and your ethics, which is unacceptable.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

woman cutting a sandwich in the back of house...

Eligible Mesa small business owners can register for low-cost college courses

A new program in Mesa is expanding ways that small business owners can earn college credits. 

7 hours ago

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)...

Associated Press

Judge denies Phoenix request to extend clean up time at The Zone

A judge on Tuesday denied the city of Phoenix’s legal request seeking extra time to clean up the city’s largest homeless encampment.

10 hours ago

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is surrounded by staff, security and journalists as he walks to the Ho...

Brandon Gray

Kevin McCarthy out as speaker of the House: How Arizona representatives voted

In a 216-210 vote, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was voted off his post, making him the first in history to be removed from the role.

11 hours ago

(ADOT Photo)...

ADOT uses updated technology to improve operation of freeway ramp meters

Updated technology has allowed the Arizona Department of Transportation to optimize the operation of its freeway ramp meters.

12 hours ago

Mug shots of Frank Avila, left, and Albert Valenzuela. The men were arrested after a Phoenix bus ro...

1 man dead, 2 arrested after Phoenix bus robbery leads to hit-and-run collision

A man faces possible murder charges after a victim he allegedly tried to rob on a Phoenix bus was hit and killed by a vehicle while fleeing.

13 hours ago


KTAR Video

Video: What would it mean if the city of Phoenix entered into a “consent decree?”

Maricopa County Sherriff Paul Penzone announced Monday that he would not run for re-election and after bringing in a police chief following a national search, Mike Broomhead ponders what message the city of Phoenix would send by entering into a consent decree. Video: Jeremy Schnell and Felisa Cárdenas/KTAR News

16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Home moving relocation in Arizona 2023...

BMS Moving

Tips for making your move in Arizona easier

If you're moving to a new home in Arizona, use this to-do list to alleviate some stress and ensure a smoother transition to your new home.


Ignite Digital

How to unlock the power of digital marketing for Phoenix businesses

All businesses around the Valley hopes to maximize their ROI with current customers and secure a greater market share in the digital sphere.



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]

Sheriff Paul Penzone: Separating families is ‘taking the low road’