Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane wave to the crowd at the Phoenix Convention Center during a campaign rally on March 15, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Photograph by Ralph Freso—Getty Images

Sanders dug into the sheriff after his wife visited Tent City.

By Claire Groden
March 18, 2016

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders excoriated the controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio in a rally on Thursday night at a Navajo casino.

Sanders called Arpaio, who has gained national notoriety for his hard-line anti-immigration stance, a “bully” and “un-American and uncivilized,” according to The New York Times.

At the rally, Sanders pledged he would pass a comprehensive immigration reform package as president and channel more resources to Native Americans to combat “appalling levels of inequality.” More than a quarter of Native Americans live below the poverty line; among those who identify exclusively as American Indian or Alaskan Native, the poverty rate is nearly 30%, according to the Pew Research Center.

Sanders described an impromptu visit his wife, Jan Sanders, made to Arpaio’s jail, which he calls a “tent city” because the inmates are forced to live outside under the Arizona sun. “She asked him about racial profiling, and he didn’t have an answer,” Sanders said. “She asked him about conditions in Tent City and other abuses that he has perpetuated, and he didn’t have an answer.”

Arpaio has endorsed Donald Trump for president. Arizona will hold its Republican and Democratic primaries on March 22, where immigration is expected to dominate the conversation.

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