Sheriff Joe Arpaio, hated by the open-borders crowd but loved by those who want to uphold America’s immigration laws, has always been surrounded by controversies—they whirl around him like dust storms in the Arizona desert.  Now an even bigger storm is brewing around him, in the wake of the Trump administration’s pardon.

And what, you may ask, did Trump pardon him for?

For the “crime” of upholding our nation’s immigration laws.  Yes, it’s a criminal act for local officials to do that these days, as around the country “sanctuary cities” are declaring that federal laws barring illegal immigrants are no longer operative within their jurisdictions.  Entire states have enacted a policy of open borders—notably California, New York, and other Blue State bastions of political correctness, where even questioning someone as to his legal status is now a crime.

It’s all part of a vast social-engineering scheme to flood the U.S. with illegal immigrants and thus change the character of the country and the electorate.  Arpaio’s “crime” is that he stood up and said no.

It all started when Arizona passed a law requiring police to ask detainees about their legal status and empowering them to check with federal authorities as to whether arrestees were in the country legally.  Then President Barack Obama’s Justice Department launched an investigation into Arpaio’s alleged civil-rights violations.  Arpaio, for his part, had been vigorously going after illegals within his jurisdiction (Maricopa County) and arresting thousands of the “undocumented.”  The new law gave his campaign added impetus: Over 30,000 illegals were arrested during his tenure and deported, the great majority sent back to Mexico.

The open-borders lobby hated him for it and targeted him for destruction.  The Obama Justice Department followed up their investigation with a federal lawsuit.  The Arizona law was challenged in court, and ultimately the Supreme Court struck down many of its provisions, but not all of them: The Court unanimously agreed that police must be allowed to investigate whether detainees are in the country legally.

That, however, was very far from the end of it.  The legal assault against Arpaio and defenders of America’s borders escalated.  The open-borders lobby deployed its lawyers against any enforcement of the law requiring police to investigate the legal status of detainees, claiming that it amounts to “racial profiling.”  In 2016, after a long series of court battles costing Maricopa County as much as $50 million, a settlement was reached, effectively neutering the law.  “This makes it clear that you cannot detain someone even for a minute based on the belief the person is undocumented,” exulted Karen Tumlin, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center.  “This is a ground-breaking shift.”

Well, she’s right about that, for what the settlement meant was that the entire body of immigration law had been neutered.  The police in every town, city, and hamlet had been put on notice: Enforce the law, and you will be punished.

But Sheriff Joe wasn’t intimidated.  He declared that he would continue to round up illegals, jail them, and turn them over to federal authorities for deportation.  A judge reprimanded him, and then found him in contempt of court.  He was tried and convicted.

Now Trump has issued a federal pardon—and despite the catcalls and cries of outrage from the political class, the great Middle American Majority is cheering.

That’s because, outside of the coastal enclaves of paper-pushing bureaucrats and latte-swilling parasites, Americans realize what is being done to them.  They know that there’s a concerted campaign to throw open the gates to swarms of illegals and flood the country with them.  They will vote “correctly” and change the American character forever.

Sheriff Arpaio is a villain to the elites, but he’s a hero to ordinary Americans for precisely the same reason why he’s hated in Washington and San Francisco.  The immigration juggernaut rolled over him, and his enemies thought they had him down.  But they didn’t count on a few things.  To begin with, this 85-year-old is a fighter, who didn’t give up when all the odds were against him.  Second, they forgot who’s President: After betraying his base on several issues—notably the war in Afghanistan—Trump had to come to Arpaio’s rescue.  If Trump had allowed Sheriff Arpaio to go to jail, it would have been seen as a major defeat for the America First movement the President imagines he’s leading.

So-called libertarians cavil that Arpaio is a tyrant, an enemy of “civil liberties,” a “racist,” etc.  This is absurd.  Illegal aliens have no “rights,” except the right to be sent back to where they came from.  There’s nothing “racist” about stopping suspected illegals and determining their immigration status for the simple reason that countries—real countries, not amorphous empires—have borders, and these must be enforced.  The Constitution protects citizens, period.  That’s what the Founding Fathers intended, our contemporary judges and the ACLU to the contrary notwithstanding.

The systematic effort by Big Business, the federal bureaucracy, and the political class to destroy what remains of the old America by means of a government-sponsored and -subsidized mass-immigration program must be stopped.  Sheriff Arpaio stood like a rock against these powerful forces: a lone sheriff of a midsized Middle American county defied the feds, the media, battalions of lawyers, and the leadership of both parties.  And his pardon by President Trump is sending all the worst elements in our society into a frenzy.

That by itself is enough to justify Trump’s brave act.