PHOENIX, May 19 (UPI) -- The Phoenix prosecutor says he won't prosecute illegal immigrants with conspiracy to commit human smuggling just because they entered the country illegally.
Interim Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley announced Wednesday his office would focus on smuggling rings, which he contended had been allowed to flourish while law enforcement agencies spent more time pulling over individuals suspected of being illegal.
"In four years, from March 2006 through March 2010, there was a total of about 1,300 cases processed by the office," Romley told the Arizona Republic. "That is not much of an impact when you consider that the office receives 70,000 felonies every year."
The Republic said Romley's new strategy was quickly blasted by former County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio as a setback in Arizona's strategy to curb illegal immigration and associated crime.
Romley's strategy also includes more reliance on voluntary efforts by employers to keep illegal immigrants off their payrolls and a statewide strategy for enforcing the controversial SB 1070, which requires police to check the residency status of people suspected of illegal immigrants.
"If someone comes in and raises all heck that you're not enforcing the law and wants to sue you, you're harder to sue, because every police agency in the state has agreed that this is the approach that we ought to be taking," Romley said.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Police Officers Standards and Training Board announced Wednesday it would soon offer an online training program for law enforcement personnel on enforcing SB 1070.