Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott at the Greene County Jail Dedication
Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott at the Greene County Jail Dedication (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott appeared on a nationally-televised cable program to discuss immigration and the flow of illegal drugs into the United States.

Arnott is one of seven sheriffs who make up the leadership advisory committee of Protect America Now, a nonprofit organization with a leadership panel consisting of county sheriffs. The group states that it is for gun ownership, against people who “reject law and order,” against illegal immigration and “against those who want more government and want to raise our taxes to the point where we become a socialist country.”

Arnott was one of four sheriffs who appeared on “The Faulkner Focus” with Harris Faulkner on May 23. They discussed Title 42, a chapter in the United States Code that addresses public health, but is also used in some counties to turn away migrants at the United States-Mexico border.

Arnott appeared alongside Sheriff Mark Daniels of Cochise County, Arizona; Sheriff Sam Page of Rockingham County, North Carolina; and Sheriff Wayne Ivey of Brevard County, Florida. The four sheriffs were in Sierra Vista, Arizona, which borders the Mexican state of Sonora.

“The American sheriff is the last front for us, and we want to fight this battle,” Arnott said. “That’s why we’re down here showing some solidarity to assist (Daniels) down here, and we need to secure our border; that’s the bottom line. We have to secure the border so we can stop the drug traffic and the crime that comes with that.”

Arnott’s trip to Arizona was funded by Protect America Now, as confirmed by Cpl. Paige Rippee of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office. Arnott said that while he was in Arizona, he saw firsthand evidence of drugs entering the United States from Mexico.

“The average citizen does not understand the impact of border security,” Arnott said in a statement to the Springfield Daily Citizen. “I joined sheriffs at the border to talk about the issue. When we left, we encountered evidence of drug smugglers that made it through the border and left the backpacks that they transported meth and fentanyl to the United States. This occurred while we were at the border for two hours — no Border Patrol around. The county sheriffs are trying to keep up, but have over 8,000 traffickers crossing the border a month.”

On May 20, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement on the district court ruling that keeps Title 42 in place for law enforcement groups to use.

“The authority to set public health policy nationally should rest with the Centers for Disease Control, not with a single district court,” part of Jean-Pierre’s statement reads.

Jean-Pierre said that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would continue preparing for Title 42 to be lifted, and for immigrants who attempt to enter the United States illegally to be removed under other provisions of the U.S Code.

Arnott wants to keep Title 42 and the provisions being used to turn away migrants from Mexico, South America, Central America and Cuba.

Appearance follows state reactions to Biden plans

U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays issued an injunction May 20, blocking a Biden administration plan to end an immigration policy that allows U.S. immigration authorities to turn away most asylum seekers who aim to enter the United States from Mexico.

Missouri was one of the original three states to file a lawsuit intending to keep Title 42 in place. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt issued a statement in reaction to the injunction.

“Missouri, Louisiana, and Arizona led the way in fighting back against the Biden Administration’s disastrous move to cancel Title 42, a critical tool in helping to secure the border,” Schmitt said. “With the illegal fentanyl and human trafficking flowing through the porous Southern border, every state is now a border state. My office will continue to fight to secure our border and protect Missourians and Americans.”

On May 20, the U.S. Department of Justice released a statement from spokesman Anthony Coley, announcing the department’s intent to appeal the injunctive ruling.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) invoked its authority under Title 42 due to the unprecedented public-health dangers caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Coley said. “CDC has now determined, in its expert opinion, that continued reliance on this authority is no longer warranted in light of the current public-health circumstances. That decision was a lawful exercise of CDC’s authority.”

Arnott and the other sheriffs who appeared on FOX News spoke about drugs coming into the United States.

“One of the big problems that we have is the narcotics coming over from Mexico,” Arnott said.

Arnott pointed back to a section of the U.S. border where Mexico meets Cochise County, Arizona.

“This border is unmanned, and every day they have hundreds come right through this area bringing fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine into the United States,” Arnott said on FOX News. “It doesn’t end right here in (Daniels’) county, it goes to Greene County and it goes to all the counties, that’s why we’re here.”

Protect America Now describes itself on its website as a nonprofit organization not affiliated with any government agency.

“Whether the issue is infringing on our 2nd Amendment rights, tolerating rampant illegal immigration or increasing taxes on working families, Protect America Now believes the media has failed us and Americans deserve to hear the truth,” part of a statement on the “About” section of the Protect America Now website reads.

Greene County voters elected Arnott sheriff in 2007, 2012, 2016 and 2020. He previously served in law enforcement as a deputy, a detective and eventually worked his way through the ranks to become the chief deputy in Greene County. He is also an instructor for the Drury University Law Enforcement Academy.

Rance Burger

Rance Burger covers local government for the Daily Citizen. His goal is to help people know more about what projects their government is involved in, and how their tax dollars are being spent. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 15 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger