Southern Arizona sheriffs in Cochise and Pinal counties have set up their own legal defense fund to defend themselves against federal and pro-amnesty lawsuits challenging enforcement of the state's tough new immigration law.
Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu announced the formation of the legal defense fund Thursday, and launched the website BorderSheriffs.com for the purpose of "defending those who are defending our borders."
The legal defense fund could will also explore potential counter-litigation.
"Inaction is not an option," according to Sheriff Babeu. "Local law enforcement has long-successfully enforced local, state and federal laws. Carving an exception for immigration is unacceptable."
Dever and Babeu are strong advocates of the new SB 1070 law that requires officers with reasonable suspicion to ask subjects about their immigration status. The law goes into effect July 29.
The sheriff's offices of Cochise County and Pinal County are named personally in the lawsuit recently filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). There are at least seven lawsuits challenging the law, including potentially two by the Obama administration that will argue federal preemption and civil rights issues.
"I have spent 30 years defending this border against both criminal and economic attacks against the United States," according to Sheriff Dever. "To sue my office, for defending this nation and our local, state and federal laws is despicable."
In March, rancher Robert Krentz was shot and killed in by an illegal immigrant as he patrolled him 34,000-acre Cochise County ranch.
The announcement was made today on a radio show hosted by Jim Sharpe on 550 KFYI in Phoenix. Sharpe has been a long-standing defender of 1070 and a caller's suggestion on his show was the genesis of the fund.
Babeu and Dever have retained the Rose Law Group, founded by conservative attorney Jordan Rose.
"We are grateful to be able to provide the sheriffs with the most aggressive and creative legal counsel as the lives of their men and women are on the line each day trying to enforce our laws," according to Rose.
The defense will be funded through private donations, including funding from the Legacy Foundation, an Iowa-based, conservative non-profit organization that supports the law.