In Arizona, controversial sheriff's Arpaio posse watches over schools

Sheriff  Arpaio

The posse's presence was clearly visible on a recent tour of five area schools. On several occasions, the marked patrol cars doubled up at the academies, the volunteers greeting one another before rolling on to pay another random visit.

Ali Baker, who had just dropped off her 5-year-old daughter at the Quality Interactive Montessori School in Cave Creek, voiced cautious backing for the program.

"It's sad in a way that we have to have that. It's also comforting that we live in a small enough community that pretty much overnight we are able to make that happen if need be," she said.

fearful of being deported

Arizona has emerged as a major antagonist of Obama's Democratic administration since 2010, when Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed a law cracking down on illegal immigrants, saying the federal government had failed to secure the border with Mexico.

Not all welcomed the school posse's role in the metro Phoenix area, where state law requires police to question those they arrest, stop or detain and suspect are in the country illegally about their immigration status.

"Parents are fearful and annoyed," said Carlos Garcia of grassroots group Puente Arizona, which opposed Arizona's 2010 crackdown on illegal immigrants and Arpaio's repeated sweeps to nab them in the state's most populous county.

"We know in the past the sheriffs have gone out of their way to ask people for their documents, and us being brown has been suspicious activity enough," said Garcia, who is Hispanic.

"They (the parents) are fearful that it might actually lead to them being deported," he added.

Among those with concerns is Diana Ramirez, an undocumented mother from Mexico, who has children aged 4 and 14 in schools in Phoenix. While the posse does not patrol there, she said the proposal made her fearful.

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