PHOENIX -- Some Hollywood actors have signed on to help fight illegal immigration in Arizona.
In July, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio promised the creation of a new illegal immigration operations posse. He said a volunteer armed posse could help his deputies enforce immigration laws. It also would provide a means by which citizens could feel they are helping in the fight against illegal immigration.
"Law enforcement budgets are being cut and agencies are losing personnel and yet the battle to stop illegal immigration must continue," Arpaio said in a news release. "Arizona is the busiest port of entry for people being smuggled in from Mexico, Latin and South America. So asking for the public's help in this endeavor makes sense, especially given the success the posses have experienced over the years."
On Wednesday afternoon, 56 new members from various professions were sworn in as illegal immigration fighters.
Hollywood actors and real-life law enforcement professionals Steven Seagal, Lou Ferrigno (The Hulk) and Peter Lupus ("Mission Impossible") all signed on to work this detail. Ferrigno was on hand for the swearing-in ceremony.
Seagal and Ferrigno are real-life deputies. Seagal, who now lives in the Valley, is a sworn deputy in New Orleans. Ferrigno works as a deputy with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Office.
"These guys are busy with their acting careers so I don't expect them to be here on duty very often," Arpaio said. "But they can be instrumental in heightening public awareness of the immigration issue and encouraging others to join the posse's effort to help reduce the flow of illegal immigrants into our communities."
Wyatt Earp, a local resident whose uncle was the famous lawman, and a retired Chicago police official aptly named Dick Tracy who now lives in Arizona have also joined the posse.
Others being sworn in by the sheriff include pilots, attorneys, former law enforcement or military officers, truckers, business owners, computer programmers, financial advisers and real estate experts.
"People from all walks of life have contacted my office saying they want to help me in this fight in some way," Arpaio said. "This is how they can do that -- by being members of a volunteer posse with the specific aim of fighting illegal immigration and lending their particular expertise to the fight."
Arpaio said members of the 60th posse will work with deputies in searching for load vehicles and drop houses, transporting illegal immigrants arrested for potential immigration violations, containment of load vehicles or businesses during criminal employment sweeps, and crowd control during demonstrations against the sheriff’s immigration policies.
"My ultimate goal with the creation of this newest posse is to catch and jail as many illegal immigrants coming into this county and to apprehend those who are illegally living and working here already," Arpaio said.
"Let's face it -- my deputies are outnumbered so the more volunteers we can get trained and out on the streets to fight illegal immigration, the better off we will be to fight it," he continued.
Since Arpaio took office in 1993, he has built up the volunteer posse to nearly 3,000 members.