JANUARY 26: Sheriff Joe Arpaio (L) of Maricopa County, Arizona listens as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the press prior to a rally on January 26, 2016 in Marshalltown, Iowa. Arpaio today announced his support for Trump's presidential bid. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

President Trump has granted his first pardon and he gave it to Sheriff Joe Arpaio who is known for his questionable practices in the jails he ran. Arpaio had been federally convicted of contempt of court stemming from his immigration patrols that focused on Latinos.

According to the White House, 85-year-old Arpaio was a “worthy candidate” for the pardon. They cited his “life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.”

It should be noted that Arpaio was prosecuted by the president’s own Justice Department.

“I appreciate what the president did,” Arpaio told the Associated Press. “I have to put it out there: Pardon, no pardon — I’ll be with him as long as he’s president.”

The pardon has drawn significant backlash from an array of activists and political leaders alike. They say that the pardon amounted to presidential approval of racism by getting rid of the conviction of a law officer who the courts said broke the law to racially profile Latinos.

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“Pardoning Joe Arpaio is a slap in the face to the people of Maricopa County, especially the Latino community and those he victimized as he systematically and illegally violated their civil rights,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said.

Republican reaction to the pardon has been mixed. Sen. John McCain criticized the move and said it undermines Trump’s “claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.”

Arpaio has a national reputation for taking aggressive action against immigrants who are in the US illegally.

He defied court orders that he stop his patrols resulting in a misdemeanor contempt of court conviction.

“So Sheriff Joe was convicted for doing his job?” Trump asked at Tuesday’s rally. “I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s going to be just fine, OK.”

Critics of Trump’s decision say he has now removed the last chance to hold Arpaio responsible for his long history of misconduct.

He is not only accused of prolonging the patrols for 17 months after a judge ordered them stopped, but 160 inmates have hanged themselves in his jails and he ran what he himself referred to as a concentration camp in the desert made up of tents.