Articles immigration April 8, 2008
Associated Press and more
April 8, 2008




Group challenges law denying illegal immigrants bail

The Associated Press

Tucson, Arizona | Published: 04.08.2008

PHOENIX — The American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund are challenging the Arizona law that denies bail to illegal immigrants accused of serious crimes.

Both groups claim that Proposition 100, the 2006 citizen's initiative, is unconstitutional because it denies individual hearings to defendants as to whether they are flight risks or dangers to the community.

Named as defendants in the suit, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Superior Court Presiding Judge Barbara Rodriguez Mundell.

"We're not asking that anyone be released from jail," said attorney Steve Monde, one of those participating in the lawsuit.

"We're asking that they be permitted like all other criminal defendants in Arizona to have their day in court to have the court determine whether they're flight risks," Monde said.

Judge Mundell could not be reached for comment.

A Sheriff's Office representative wondered why the sheriff would even be named since the sheriff doesn't set bail or make laws.

And Thomas issued a statement saying, "Just as I helped draft and led the fight for passage of Proposition 100, I will vigorously defend this law in federal court."

"The ACLU is wrong to challenge this reform, which was approved by 78 percent of Arizona voters."

The suit also claims that through Proposition 100, the Sheriff's Office unlawfully usurps federal authority on immigration matters by checking the immigration status for prosecution under state laws.

"The very real problems facing Arizona with illegal immigration can't override the constitution of the United States and that's what we're trying to uphold," Monde said.

Tucson Region

van filled with entrants crashes

32 packed in van that rolled off I-10; dozens hurt; 1 dead

By Dale Quinn and Brady McCombs

arizona daily star

Tucson, Arizona | Published: 04.08.2008

One woman was killed, three men are in critical condition and dozens of others also were injured early Monday when a van loaded with illegal entrants tried to evade the Border Patrol and rolled on Interstate 10 west of Benson, officials said.

Indications are that most of the passengers are from Guatemala and Ecuador, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Vincent Picard. Picard originally reported one woman died at the scene and two men died on their way to the hospital, but officials Monday afternoon could not confirm the two additional deaths.

Three Guatemalan men were in critical condition Monday evening with head injuries, said Oscar Padilla, the Guatemalan consul general in Phoenix.

The deceased was a 21-year-old woman from Guatemala, Padilla said.

Two smugglers were identified, and they will be referred to the U.S. Attorney's Office for charges, Picard said.

"We're still investigating, so I don't know if there's going to be more smugglers, but I know we've identified two: the driver and the guide," he said.

At least 14 of the 32 involved in the crash are Guatemalans, said Padilla, who went to three hospitals in Tucson to visit the injured and determine their nationalities.

Three or four had already been released and were in the custody of U.S. law enforcement, Padilla said. The others, not including the three men in critical condition, suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were in stable condition. Three of the 14 are women, he said. None is a minor.

Four of the injured entrants are from Mexico, said Alejandro Ramos Cardoso, a spokesman for the Mexican Consulate in Tucson. The four men are in stable condition in Tucson hospitals, he said.

The van was westbound on I-10 when it rolled just after 5 a.m. near Empirita Road, about 10 miles west of Benson, said Officer Quent Mehr, a Department of Public Safety spokesman.

Some of the illegal entrants ran from the crash scene, authorities said.

At least 32 people were in the van, officials said. Anne-Marie Braswell, a Rural/Metro Fire Department spokeswoman, said 23 people were taken to the hospital shortly after the crash, 18 by ground and five by air. She said eight of the illegal entrants were found by the U.S. Border Patrol after the crash.

Of the eight caught by the Border Patrol, six were taken to the hospital, bringing the total injured to at least 29, Mehr said.

Most in the van were men, Picard said. He didn't know where they were headed.

Eight agencies responded to the crash, including DPS, the Tucson Fire Department and Border Patrol. Helicopters scoured the nearby desert in the hours after the wreck looking for additional passengers who may have left the scene.

The Mescal Volunteer Fire Department, which responds to the Mescal/J-6 area west of Benson, was first on the scene at 5:22 a.m. with five firefighters and three trucks, said community director Terri Jo Neff.

There was some concern about emergency personnel being exposed to measles as some of the passengers were ill, Neff said.

"We were told that one of the people had measles," said Mehr, the DPS spokesman. He said he then got information from the hospital that it wasn't measles, but chickenpox.

"We did have reports from the occupants that some of them had chickenpox, and all of the agents and first responders have been notified," Picard said.

The Pima County Health Department hadn't been notified of any cases of measles, said spokeswoman Patti Woodcock.

"Since the end of February, all hospitals have been on high alert for rash presentations," Woodcock said. She said the department checks with hospitals daily to see if any new cases have emerged.

Some of the patients who were taken to University Medical Center were put in isolation as a precaution, said spokeswoman Beth Pouska.

Border Patrol agents spotted the van while they were conducting traffic stops in the area early Monday.

They did not chase the van, but it appeared suspicious so they looked for it on I-10 and found it had rolled off the north side of the interstate, Mehr said.

Border Patrol agents in the Tucson Sector apprehend Guatemalan illegal border-crossers fairly regularly but only encounter Ecuadoreans from time to time, said Border Patrol spokesman Jesús Rodriguez.

In fiscal year 2006, the Department of Homeland Security deported 25,135 Guatemalans, placing the Central American nation fourth among all countries for deportees, behind only Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras, statistics from the agency show. In fiscal year 2005, it ranked fifth with 25,908 deportees.

Ecuador, with about 2,000 people deported in each fiscal year 2006 and 2005, ranked 10th among countries.

Mexico is by far the largest source of illegal entrants, with more than 1 million deported each of the past three fiscal years, Homeland Security numbers show.

● Contact reporter Dale Quinn at 629-9412 or or Brady McCombs at 573-4213

Guest-worker bill bars entrants already in AZ

Businesses call it further hurdle to finding good labor

By Howard Fischer

Capitol Media Services

Tucson, Arizona | Published: 04.08.2008

PHOENIX — Undocumented workers already in Arizona and working here will be ineligible to be employed here even if the state gets to set up its own guest-worker program.

Sen. Marsha Arzberger, D-Willcox, said Monday the legislation she crafted with Rep. Bill Konopnicki, R-Safford, had to be crafted that way to avoid opposition from "the anti-immigrant crowd." She said without excluding those workers, the measure would die.

And that, she said, doesn't help anyone.

"Our intent is to fill the need and get some temporary labor here," said Arzberger of HB 2863.

But Arzberger conceded the legislation will leave some companies unable to get employees with the training and skills they need — the ones already in the country and working for U.S. firms.

The issue arose Monday when the legislation was debated by the House Commerce Committee.

The version approved by the Commerce Committee would allow Arizona to set up its own guest-worker program. Companies with a labor shortage could bring in workers who have passed criminal background checks.

Business lobbyists said companies were already having trouble finding workers before the state's new employer-sanctions law took effect Jan. 1. That measure subjects firms to possible suspension or revocation of business licenses for knowingly having employees on the payroll not legally entitled to work here.

Sheridan Bailey, owner of Ironco Enterprises, a Phoenix steel-fabrication firm, said he got rid of 12 of his 40 production workers because they could not prove they were in this country legally. Bailey said without the ability to hire foreign workers, his company and others will be unable to remain fully staffed.

But Rep. Adam Driggs, R-Phoenix, pointed out the legislation specifically says employers who want foreign workers can recruit them only at U.S. consulate offices in Mexico.

Driggs said that means the workers already here who want those jobs would have to leave the country to apply for work. He pointed out, though, when people have been in this country illegally they are ineligible to come back legally for 10 years.

He questioned whether anyone already here would go through that risk.

Arzberger conceded the point. She said in the case of Bailey's trained workers, it's unlikely they went back to Mexico, where Bailey could legally hire them, but probably now have jobs elsewhere in this country.

She said, though, she had no choice other than lock out those already here or have the measure killed.

"I just don't see any way to include them because of all the objections of the anti-immigrant crowd," she said.

"They are good workers when they've been here that many years," Arzberger continued. "We could use their expertise."

Arzberger said none of this would be necessary if Congress acted and adopted some sort of nationwide program to increase the number of foreign workers who can be brought to the United States, as well as ease the process. But in the absence of federal action, she said, "We're going to try to take care of Arizona."

Monday's vote by the Commerce Committee was not unanimous.

Rep. Ben Miranda, D-Phoenix, questioned what he said was a "piecemeal approach to immigration reform." He also said the legislation lacked sufficient safeguards to ensure foreign workers are treated properly.

The proposal, even if it becomes law, would be legally meaningless without federal approval. A companion measure also approved Monday by the panel, HCM 2013, specifically urges Congress to give the go-ahead for an Arizona pilot program.

Both measures now go to the full House.


Guest Opinion

Entrant prosecutions a petty waste of time

By Robert T. Kennedy

Special to the Arizona Daily Star

Tucson, Arizona | Published: 04.08.2008

As reported in Sunday's Arizona Daily Star, the Arizona Denial Prosecution Initiative is a new program by the Border Patrol that is emblematic of the quagmire of bad ideas fostered by the hysteria surrounding our perennially porous borders.

This ill-conceived program prosecutes daily in federal court in Tucson as many as 60 accused illegal entrants. However, the vast majority of those apprehended each day will continue to be voluntarily released back into Mexico.

Even so, extrapolation would conservatively result in at least 200 illegal entrant prosecutions each week, approximately 800 to 1,000 per month, and 10,000 to 12,000 annually.

Historically, most border crossers without criminal records have been voluntarily returned or administratively deported. Federal prosecution has normally been reserved for those with documented criminal convictions or evidence of other serious criminal activity committed in this country. This policy was borne more out of necessity than excessive empathy for the plight of otherwise law-abiding illegal entrants.

There are simply not enough judges, prosecutors, deputy marshals, jail cells or prisons available to fully implement this misguided plan without doing serious, long-term harm to the local federal criminal justice system.

With the notable exception of the Border Patrol, which has been allocated a vast amount of human and material resources to secure our borders, the U.S. District Court, U.S. Attorney's Office and U.S. Marshal's Service have not been the beneficiaries of such seemingly limitless largesse.

As staffed and equipped, these distinctly separate branches of our government cannot be expected to afford constitutionally mandated due process to a multitude of criminal defendants every day. Hasty, assembly-line processing will soon become a mockery of justice that turns a blind eye and deaf ear to an individual defendant's possible lack of comprehension of the proceedings or potential legal defenses.

We are told that the prospect of a misdemeanor conviction for illegal entry and a jail sentence of two weeks or at most six months will significantly deter others willing to risk their own lives as well as those of other family members to cross a harsh, hostile desert environment.

Even before the initiative was unveiled, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tucson announced a policy not to prosecute individuals caught in possession of less than 500 pounds of marijuana due to a shortage of prosecutors.

Supposedly the Department of Homeland Security will assign some of its own legal staff to temporarily assist in this operation. Based upon many years of supervisory experience within the Justice Department, such outside "client agency" help is usually short-lived and relatively ineffective. While well-intentioned, these drafted attorneys usually have little or no courtroom experience and soon become anxious to return whence they came, leaving the career prosecutors and their support staff holding the bag.

Instead of pushing back, the Justice Department, which should be the ultimate "decider," has become a pushover, allowing Homeland Security to distort, if not destroy, its historic priorities. The U.S. Attorney's Office is intended to be the premier prosecution agency focusing on the investigation and prosecution of drug and human trafficking and terrorist organizations, complex white-collar crime and political corruption.

Career criminals, crooked businessmen and corrupt public officials should take heart. In this surreal "border world," federal prosecutors will be too busy with the virtual prosecution of petty offenders on petty offenses in a quixotic quest for petty results.

Write to Robert T. Kennedy at