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Sheriff Arpaio: Crosses will mark spots where immigrants die in Arizona desert

Sheriff Arpaio: Crosses will mark spots where immigrants die in Arizona desert
Friday, August 16, 2013 - 2:08am

Deputies in Arizona's Maricopa County will leave white wooden crosses at desert locations to mark the spots where immigrants die as they try to enter the country from Mexico.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who made the announcement, said 14 people have died since June in the area known as Gild Bend.

More than 30 people have been rescued in the same area, he said at a Thursday news conference in the desert south of Phoenix.

"Desert crossers are dying in unknown numbers due to the desert's brutal conditions and excessively high temperatures," the sheriff said.

He said the crosses, made by inmates, also will serve as landmarks so people in distress in the desert can give their location when they call for help.

The sheriff criticized the federal government for failing to seal the border and said it should reimburse his county for "the time and resources spent on these mercy missions."

Arpaio is known for his strict approach to immigration enforcement in Maricopa County, and has been at odds with the federal government over immigration policy.

In May, a federal judge agreed with the Justice Department that his deputies were illegally detaining Hispanics on pretexts to try to find undocumented people.

Arpaio has said he will appeal the judge's ruling, which stopped a program of traffic sweeps.

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