Authorities Hold Child Detained in Arizona Hours After Immigration Policy Move
6-year-old was arrested along with 15 others traveling in Maricopa County
CNN Wire Staff
June 19, 2012(CNN) -- A 6-year-old girl arrested in Arizona by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office on suspicion of illegally entering the United States remains in custody, authorities said Monday.
The unaccompanied child was detained along with 15 other people traveling in a van through Maricopa County late Friday, hours after President Barack Obama had announced a decision to stop deporting certain young illegal immigrants.
The sheriff's office handed the girl over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, and she is now in "the care and custody" of the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement, said Amber Cargile, a spokeswoman for ICE.
The child says she is from El Salvador, the sheriff's office said in a statement. The people in the van were planning to make their way to a variety of destinations around the country -- including New York, California and Texas -- according to the sheriff's office.
Most of those detained were being held in the sheriff's jail, the statement said.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for his tough stance against illegal immigration, said the girl's arrest was not politically motivated.
"There was no politics involved in this. And when you have a 6-year-old girl, I think that's newsworthy regardless of what the circumstances are -- whether you call it an arrest or a detention," he said.
Last week, Arpaio said that the Obama administration's new directive not to deport some young migrants was motivated by politics.
Arpaio said he would abide by the directive but continue to enforce state laws on illegal immigration as he sees fit.
The rule change will allow people younger than 30 who came to the United States before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military to apply for a two-year deferral from deportation.
CNN's Sonya Hamasaki contributed to this report.