Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office detained 16 people believed to be in the United States illegally--including a six-year-old girl. The arrest took place Friday night in Maricopa County as part of a human-smuggling investigation, the Arizona Republic reported. While the other 15 suspected illegal immigrants have been booked into jail, the young girl was turned over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement so authorities can figure out where she's from, an Arpaio spokesman told the Republic.
The immigrants had paid between $300 to $3500 to be smuggled to seven different states in the US, ABC reported. Officials claim that the young girl was not with any legal guardian and that the whereabouts of her parents is unknown. As a result, they insist that they had to detain her for her own safety.
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Arpaio is known for his controversial stances against illegal immigration and has been accused of racial profiling. He is currently being sued for the Department of Justice for allegedly targeting Latinos, among other allegations.
The detention of the six-year-old girl came Friday night, just after President Barack Obama had announced a new plan in which undocumented immigrants could become immune from deportation if they are under 30 and brought to the US before they turned 16, the Associated Press reported.
While Arpaio openly criticized Obama's plan, he insisted to the Arizona Republic that his detention of the six-year-old following Obama's announcement was just a coincidence.