JUNE 27, 2006
An Arizona Sheriff has come under fire for daring to enforce a new human smuggling state law that allows prosecutors to charge illegal immigrants suspected of paying to get smuggled into the U.S.
Frustrated with the lack of federal enforcement of immigration laws, Arizona legislators passed the statute last August to give prosecutors a tool to go after smugglers (known as coyotes), who traffic in undocumented immigrants. The law also says that undocumented immigrants suspected of paying coyotes could be prosecuted as conspirators.
So, the sheriff of Maricopa County in Phoenix decided to actually enforce the new statute and now a few hundred illegal immigrants sit in jail waiting to be charged. This is rare because local authorities nationwide rarely, if ever, detain illegal immigrants since it is supposedly the federal government’s job to deal with such issues.
In Maricopa County, however, 48 illegal immigrants have already been criminally charged under the state law and Sheriff Joe Arpaio expects many more since the feds aren’t doing their job.
One man, who recently got busted crossing the U.S.-Mexican border, said he figured the sheriff would turn him over to the Border Patrol, which would then release him.
Perhaps that is exactly why Sheriff Arpaio has so much support in his county of nearly 4 million people. He is taking action. The Texas Rainmaker nominates Arpaio for director of Homeland Security, stating that he has been tough on criminals and now illegal immigrants.
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