PHOENIX, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Arizona's Maricopa County, which has prosecuted at least 500 human smuggling cases, uses a unique statute aimed at squelching illegal immigration.
The county's sheriff's office arrests illegal immigrants who work with smugglers and requires them to plead guilty to felony charges, which limits their chances of ever becoming U.S. citizens, the Arizona Republic reported.
"The idea is to send a message that you're welcome to come here legally. We're a nation of immigrants," Maricopa County prosecutor Andrew Thomas said at a news conference Sunday. "But you have to come here the right way."
The county's 500th sentencing under the statute occurred Nov. 19, about 20 months after the statute was enacted, Phoenix's East Valley Tribune reported.