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Calling Out the Posse to Fight Illegal Immigration

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Confronted with illegal border crossing in Arizona, the Maricopa County Sherriff's office has turned to a traditional Western solution: the posse. Wednesday night, sheriff's deputies and members of the department's 300-member reserve force were sent to patrol the desert and round up illegal immigrants suspected of paying smugglers to cross the border.

The new practice is based on a controversial interpretation of a state law making it a crime to smuggle illegal aliens. In the Maricopa interpretation, it is also a crime to pay a smuggler.

The sheriff's office of Maricopa, which includes the city of Phoenix, is facing lawsuits and charges of racial profiling. NPR's Ted Robbins went along on the posse's first night out.



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