Story by Jude Joffe-Block
Fronteras Desk


A federal appeals court heard arguments Tuesday over the constitutionality of an Arizona law that denies bail to some immigrants who are in the country undocumented.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said back when he was a courtroom prosecutor, he would notice something about some defendants who weren't U.S. citizens.

"They wouldn't be back for their court date," he said.

In other words, they jumped bail.

"And this also includes defendants from Canada," Montgomery added. "So it is not solely...those from Central or South America or Mexico."

Arizona voters approved Proposition 100. It amended the state's Constitution so immigrants in the country without legal status can't get bail if they are arrested for certain crimes. That means they must wait in jail - often for months - until their trials.

Cecillia Wang of the American Civil Liberties Union is suing Maricopa County over its implementation of the law.

"It simply isn't true that undocumented immigrants pose such a flight risk that every single one of them should be locked up without a hearing," she said.

Wang said the law is unconstitutional. But last year, a tree-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and upheld it. A larger panel of judges, however, agreed to review it again.