A federal judge has barred the use of a county policy that allows people who paid to be smuggled into the U.S. to be charged under Arizona's immigrant smuggling law as conspirators in the crime.
U.S. District Judge Robert Broomfield's ruling on Friday said Maricopa County's interpretation of the 2005 state law conflicts with federal law.
Broomfield's ruling is the latest in a series of restrictions placed on immigration enforcement efforts by Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Seventy-five percent of people charged under the smuggling law in the state's most populous county through June 2011 were facing counts of conspiring to sneak themselves into the country.
Immigrant rights advocates argued that the state law was intended for smugglers, not their customers.
Defenders of the tactic argued that the interpretation didn't conflict with federal law.
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