Illegal Immigrants: Arizona No-Bail Law Overturned

Illegal immigrants in Arizona now have a right to post bail after an arrest, according to a new federal court ruling. Earlier this week the court overruled a measure approved by voters in the state which would deny bail to illegal aliens charged with a broad range of felonies. If the law was allowed to stand as written those charged with identity theft, murder, sexual assault, and shoplifting would sit in a jail cell until trial.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Arizona illegal immigrants law violated due process statutes and imposed punishment upon the suspect before trial. The 11-member panel deemed the law a “scattered attempt” to deal with individuals who flee from law enforcement officers. The panel also stated that no evidence existed to prove that the bail law addressed a significant problem in Arizona.

Supporters of the 2006 Arizona illegal immigration statute maintain that the law prevented individuals who were not in the country legally to skip town and commit new crimes. Opponents claim the bail law was really intended to punish illegal immigrants before they were actually convicted of the crime related to the arrest.

Joe Arpaio, the Sheriff of Maricopa County, was also sued as a part of the challenge to the Arizona bail law. An aid to the lawman told the media that he feels Sheriff Arpaio will ask the federal appeals court to reconsider its decision in the case. If such a request is denied, the Arpaio aid said the sheriff may petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

Russell Pearce, an Arizona State Representative when the no-bail law was passed, proposed the measure and then went on to garner approval for the controversial 2010 immigration enforcement law in the state. Pearce stated that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overstepped its authority when it decided to overrule the wishes of Arizona voters.
Cecillia Wang, the American Civil Liberties attorney that argued the illegal immigration bail case in the appeals court, said the decision guarantees that all individuals charged with a crime in the United States will remain innocent until proven guilty.

Other immigration related laws also passed in Arizona in 2006 include legislation that prevented illegal immigrants from receiving punitive damages in lawsuits, made English the state’s official language, and barred such individuals from receiving specified government benefits and services.

How do you feel about Arizona’s no-bail for illegal immigrants law and the appeals court decision?

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