Latino Leaders Outraged by Arizona Sherriff's Illegal Immigration Tip Hotline

Latino leaders and faith-based organizations in the U.S. state of Arizona want a local sheriff to disconnect the hotline he created for people to report information about illegal immigrants, saying it raises the chance of racial profiling.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Wednesday, however, that he would not disconnect the hotline, and stressed that deputies would investigate people only if authorities had probable cause, according to a report in The Arizona Republic newspaper.

The hotline has received about 300 calls since it was launched Friday, including tips about family and friends, employment, day laborers, drop houses and crank calls.

Arpaio said officials were analyzing the tips and had not yet acted on any calls.

"There's nothing unconstitutional about putting up a hotline," Arpaio said, pointing out that U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have similar hotlines.

The hotline is part of an expanded immigration enforcement plan Arpaio unveiled last week that also includes sheriff's deputies cross-trained to enforce immigration law.

Some Latino advocacy groups will launch a hotline of their own to take tips from people who believe they have been unfairly reported to Arpaio's hotline, said activist Mary Rose Wilcox, a Maricopa County supervisor.

Meanwhile, some faith-based organizations are circulating a letter among church leaders and members that decries Arpaio's hotline.