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Before Immigration Law Takes Effect, County in Arizona Deports 26,000 Immigrants, L.A. County Deports 13,000

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Arizona's controversial immigration law SB 1070 takes effect Thursday, but an Associated Press investigation has revealed that one county in the state has already performed tens of thousands of deportations. Under a federal program that deputizes local law enforcement agencies to help enforce immigration laws, Maricopa County Sheriff's Deputies have deported over 26,000 immigrants. Of the 64 agencies that participate in the program, Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and policed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, has the highest number -- nearly a quarter -- of deportations.

Under that same program, called 287(g), L.A. County comes in second with 13,784 immigrants being deported or leaving the country. Estimates show that California has about 2.6 million illegal immigrants, the highest of any state and about a quarter of the 10.8 million illegal immigrants estimated to be in the country.

[For the Record: An earlier version of this post quoted the AP as saying that California had 10.8 million illegal immigrants. After discussions in the comment section, it appears the AP was wrong.]

When SB 1070 takes effect on Thursday, some wonder what that means for enforcement throughout Arizona. 287(g) has been under criticism because federal authorities have done a poor job monitoring local police agencies to ensure civil rights are protected, which Arpaio is under investigation for violating.

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If a federal effort to stop SB 1070 fails -- there's an assertion that the Arizona law assumes federal law -- officers in Arizona starting on Thursday will be required to ask for legal identification if they reasonably suspect the person is not allowed in the country. They may only perform that task while enforcing other laws or ordinances.