County Attorney: Did immigration authorities violate child abuse laws?

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- The County's top prosecutor says the federal government's transfer of thousands of migrant children from Texas to Arizona could be a crime.

Arizona politicians are well-known for taking on the feds. And now Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery could be taking legal action against Immigration and Customs Enforcement, based on the hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Texas being dropped off here in Arizona.

Many of the undocumented immigrants being dropped here in Arizona are children unaccompanied by any adult. Montgomery says the feds may be violating Arizona child abuse laws, and he's ready to prosecute if need be.

“Violating state law is something federal officials can still be held accountable for,” says Montgomery. “Kids are being dropped off in the middle of Phoenix, in June, with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. I sent a letter to ICE, saying that if those circumstances are occurring, or did occur, would be a violation of Arizona laws against child abuse.”

The story has been unfolding over the past week. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there is an overwhelming number of undocumented immigrants crossing the border in Texas. ICE says it needs somewhere to put all the people as they work through the legal process.

As a result, hundreds of immigrants are being left at bus stops in Phoenix and Tucson, as well as a warehouse in Nogales.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security told CNN that many of these kids came here on their own with no relatives in this country and no one to deport them to back home.

So far, DHS says the unaccompanied children are all going to a federal facility in Nogales, but Montgomery isn't convinced none are coming to his jurisdiction and left unattended.

“There’s not a specific promise of prosecution or specific allegation; it’s just a general warning that if you continue with this policy and this conduct occurs, this is the consequence,” he says.

3TV reached out to ICE for a response but the agency had yet to respond to Montgomery's statements.