Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he wants to hang a banner warning illegal immigrants to stay out of Maricopa County.
But he knows that won’t work, so he’s turning his volunteer posse into a border patrol.
More than 100 volunteers are heading into desert areas and main roadways in southwest Maricopa County to work with deputies searching for illegal immigrants, with the goal of preventing them from entering the county, Arpaio said Tuesday.
“Everybody says they don’t want to do anything because it’s a federal problem,” the sheriff said. “Now it’s my problem because of the state law.”
Sheriff’s deputies arrested 11 people suspected of entering the country illegally on Tuesday. Two of them are coyotes, Arpaio said.
While combing the desert, deputies and members of the posse found a 24-year-old Mexican man near death from heat exhaustion and dehydration. He had taken all his clothes off and was praying after being left in the desert, Arpaio said. He was taken to a West Valley hospital where he remains in serious condition.
“My posse is not like Minutemen,” he said. “When I swear in my posse, they are trained and are just like a regular deputy.”
In addition to helping arrest illegal immigrants, he said, his posse also will help rescue people.
Not everyone agreed with Arpaio’s plan.
“I know there is a lot of attention around this issue now, but it needs to be brought to the congressional table,” said Lydia Hernandez, an organizer for the Arizona Coalition for Migrant Rights. “It remains and should be a federal issue and we in the city, county and state should not get involved with it because it adds to the confusion.”
But Arpaio said it’s important for the county to get involved.
“I don’t want to turn them over to Border Patrol for a free ride to Mexico,” he said. “They get a free ride to jail.”