Law Denying Bail to Undocumented Immigrants Goes to Fed Court

Oct 18, 2012

A federal appeals court will hear arguments Friday on whether state voters stepped over the line by denying bail to illegal immigrants charged with certain crimes.

In deciding appropriate bail, judges can consider various factors. But in 2006 voters approved a measure which says illegal immigrants accused of certain serious felonies must remain behind bars until trial if there is evidence of guilt. Attorney Tim Casey, who is representing Maricopa County officials defending the provision, said it's justified.

"If you're a victim of the crime, then you have the right to make sure that the accused attends trial and if there is in fact a conviction, that sentencing is served," Casey said.

But Cecillia Wang of the American Civil Liberties Union said judges can already deny bail to those with no ties to the community who entered the country illegally.

"On the other hand if the judge has before them someone who entered the U.S. on a visa 25 years ago and just never left and their entire family is U.S. citizens and they've had the same job for 25 years and they've lived in Phoenix for 25 years and they've got two dozen Phoenix U.S. citizens coming in and saying, I'll vouch for this guy, he's not going anywhere and he's only charged with a minor offense, then the judge should be able to make her own decision," Wang said.

A trial judge already has rejected the ACLU's argument, leading to this appeal.