Court Rejects Arizona No-Bail Law for Immigrants

Immigrants can no longer be held without bail in Arizona.

 The courts have dismantled yet another piece of the anti-immigrant legal framework put in place in Arizona over the last decade. In 2006, Arizona passed a law denying bail to undocumented immigrants charged with most crimes. The bill was one of the first legislative efforts designed to make Arizona the most unwelcoming state in the country for immigrants, a campaign that would culminate in its “Show Me Your Papers” law.

Nearly all of Arizona’s restrictionist bills have been declared unconstitutional already. Just this summer, Arizona’s attempt to keep those young people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) from obtaining driver’s licenses was overturned in Federal Court. This week the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that denying bail to people solely based on their immigration status was a violation of the Constitutionally-guaranteed due process rights of immigrants.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer exploited fears of immigrants to boost her visibility nationally. Her supporters placed measures directed against immigrants on the state ballots to increase conservative voter turnout. The bills were approved by 70 percent or more of the voters, but they violated many provisions of the state and Federal constitutions.

The 9th Circuit’s decision Wednesday in Lopez-Valenzuela, et al. v. County of Maricopa was a vindication of “one of our basic American freedoms—the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee that every person accused of a crime is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty,” according to Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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