Activists blast controversial Arizona sheriff for "stunt"

Phoenix, Aug 16 (EFE).- Arizona activists described as a "publicity stunt" Friday the announcement by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio that his deputies are going to place crosses in the desert as a warning to the undocumented and to save them from the dangers of crossing that parched land.

"This is another attempt by Sheriff Arpaio to attract media attention, especially now that the date is approaching when a court could order changes in his office," Lydia Guzman, immigration committee director of the Arizona chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, told Efe.

The sheriff said Thursday that numbered white crosses will be placed in the desert near the border.

The aim, Arpaio said, is not only to warn migrants about the risk they run crossing the desert, but also to make it easy for his deputies to find the immigrants when they call in with an emergency.

Arpaio also said that since June his men have been investigating the deaths of 14 undocumented immigrants.

"Sheriff Arpaio doesn't care about migrants' lives at all, he's just using that as a distraction. If he were so compassionate he would help achieve immigration reform," Guzman said.

She said the sheriff "forgot" to say that when the immigrants call in to be rescued, they'll be arrested and could even face charges under Arizona's controversial people-trafficking law.

Next Aug. 30 a court hearing will be held to discuss changes in the operating system of Arpaio's office after a judge ruled that it discriminates against Hispanic drivers.