A controversial Arizona sheriff known for taking a hard line against illegal immigrants has been stripped of some of his powers in what he described as a political move by the Obama administration.
Joe Arpaio, a gruff lawman who styles himself as America's toughest sheriff, has won acclaim from US anti-immigrant forces for his relentless pursuit of mostly Hispanic illegal immigrants in Maricopa county, Arizona, a fast-growing county of 4 million people that is home to Phoenix, the nation's fifth largest city.
Arpaio's aggressive tactics include the jailing of illegal immigrants in tent cities surrounded by barbed wire in the middle of Arizona's searingly hot summers, the reduction of meal costs to 20 cents per day, the use of pink jail clothing for men, and chain gangs for women inmates.
Arpaio also came in for criticism when he appeared on the Fox reality show Smile: You're Under Arrest.
Under a two-year-old agreement with the federal department of homeland security, Arpaio and his deputies had been authorised to enforce federal immigration law by arresting suspected illegal immigrants in the field and by checking the immigration status of people arrested on other offences.