- The Washington Times - Friday, August 16, 2013

Tough-talking Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who’s been slammed by detractors who say his border control crackdown views are anti-immigrant and racist, has ordered his deputies to commemorate those who die while crossing into the United States by placing Christian crosses at the site of their desert deaths.

Fourteen have died while trying to cross illegally from Mexico since June in the spot known as Gild Bend, the Arizona sheriff said on Thursday, CNN reported. And more than 30 have been rescued from the same site during the same time frame, he said.

“Desert crossers are dying in unknown numbers due to the desert’s brutal conditions and excessively high temperatures,” Mr. Arpaio said.

He said the crosses are made by inmates and will honor those who died during their attempted crossing — and will also serve as landmarks for others who try to cross, but are stymied by the harsh conditions. They can use the crosses to give rescuers their locations, he said, CNN reported.

Mr. Arpaio has been embroiled in a dispute with the federal government over his strict illegal immigration policies in the county. He’s currently preparing to appeal a May court ruling that found his deputies were violating federal laws by detaining Hispanics suspected of being in the country illegally, using traffic sweeps.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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