Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Arizona lawman at odds with the federal government over U.S. border policing, said on Thursday that the Obama administration is "dumping" migrant children at bus stops
in his state to ease crowding at detention facilities in Texas.
"It's rather bizarre," the Maricopa County sheriff told Newsmax TV's J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on "America's Forum."
It's also a threat to the health of the kids, some of whom first crossed into Texas without their parents and are now languishing in Arizona, said Arpaio.
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"It really doesn't make sense, dumping the kids with no parents [who are] just coming across into our country from Central America," he said. "I hate to say this, but some may be sick. I mean, young kids — this is 110 degrees out today, and where's the medical treatment that they needed?"
About 400 people held in south Texas on suspicion of entering the United States illegally — most believed to be from Central America — were flown to Arizona over the Memorial Day weekend, according to news reports.
They were dropped off by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at bus stations in Tucson and in Phoenix, and ordered to report within 15 days to the nearest ICE office for further processing.
"They're supposed to turn themselves in?" Arpaio asked incredulously. "Come on."
News of the releases is another flashpoint between the federal government and Arizona over immigration enforcement. Republican Gov. Jan Brewer sent a letter to the White House this week demanding an end to the "dangerous and unconscionable" relocations.
Brewer called the operation "another disturbing example of a deliberate failure to enforce border security policies and repair a broken immigration system."
Arpaio, meanwhile, is operating under federal scrutiny, including a pair of court rulings that disallowed some of his policing methods.
He wondered aloud on Thursday whether the release of unprocessed migrants was the federal government act retaliating against Arizona.
"A big state like Texas, you can't find a bus station? You have to bring them all the way to Phoenix?" he said.
He also speculated that the administration might be acting politically — creating a media stir with the mass release to pressure Congress into supporting the president's goal of giving illegal immigrants a pathway to U.S. citizenship.
Arpaio acknowledged the effect of recent court rulings on his operations.
"They kind of put the handcuffs on me on alleged racial profiling" and "restricted some of my ways of doing things," he said.
One result, he said, is borne out by a survey of his county's jail population, which he said proves that inmates turned over to ICE for deportation are instead being let go, then committing new crimes and landing back in Maricopa jail cells.
He said he will appeal the court rulings and keep publicizing the burdens being put on Arizona by a dysfunctional U.S. border policy.
"I've got people zeroing in on me in all different directions," he said, "but I'm still going to do my job."
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