(LATINO.FOXNEWS) — Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says his “dirty” immigrant comments were taken out of context.

The Arizona sheriff faces allegations that he encouraged racial profiling of Latinos in his trademark immigration sweeps. In a civil trial on Tuesday Arpaio testified on his own behalf and was asked about a statement in which he called undocumented immigrants “dirty.”

Arpaio said the proper context was needed to understand that statement, adding that if a person were to cross the border on foot over four days in the desert that person “could be dirty. That’s the context on how I used that word.”

Arpaio was without his typical bluster under questioning from lawyers for plaintiffs who say his policies are discriminatory. He said he has the flu and is speaking in a more hushed tone than normal, clearing his throat often.

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