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Correction: No Bail-Arizona story

March 21, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In a story March 18 about a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hearing on Arizona’s no-bail law for immigrants in the country illegally, The Associated Press reported erroneously the nature of the legal challenge. It was brought on behalf of all immigrants affected by the law, not Latinos. The AP also misspelled the first name of American Civil Liberties Union attorney Cecellia Wang as Cecelia and erroneously attributed a quote to her about the intent of the law. It was not a quote by Wang, who said the case is about due process and constitutional rights. The AP also erroneously identified attorney Tim Casey. He works for a private firm representing Maricopa County, not as an assistant attorney general. The article also should have stated that Missouri and Alabama have laws similar to Arizona’s, and that Virginia has a less stringent statute.

A corrected version of the story is below:

ACLU, Arizona give arguments over no-bail law

Appeals court in California hears arguments over Arizona’s 2006 law denying bail to immigrants


Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday urged a federal appeals court to strike down an Arizona law that denies bail to immigrants in the country illegally, a voter-approved law that Arizona’s lawyers call necessary to prevent criminal suspects from fleeing the U.S.

ACLU attorney Cecellia Wang asked a special 11-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to find the law unconstitutional, saying immigrants are being unfairly singled out as flight risks.

The case marks the latest battle over Arizona’s crackdowns on illegal immigration from the past decade. Arizona voters passed the law in 2006 to deny bail to people who are in the country illegally and charged with felony offenses from shoplifting and aggravated identity theft to murder and sexual assault.

Wang argued that no empirical data exist that show immigrants are any more of a flight risk than others cut loose before their final court appearances.

The ACLU and other legal aid groups maintain that immigrants are unfairly held and denied their fundamental constitutional rights while others are allowed to put up bond in exchange for their freedom before trial.

Lawyers for the state argue that the law prevents defendants from fleeing the country before their court hearings.

Tim Casey, a lawyer representing Maricopa County, Ariz., noted that Proposition 100 was approved by 78 percent of the voters. Casey argued that the law is in the “compelling interest in keeping Arizona safe and undocumented workers out of the country.”

A smaller three-judge panel rejected the ACLU’s arguments in 2011, but the organization appealed to a larger en banc panel of 11 judges.

Four of the judges Tuesday asked questions of both sides but gave no indication of how they would rule. One judge, Marsha Berzon, asked rhetorically, “How does one overturn the will of an overwhelming majority of voters to support the (federal) law?”

It could take months before the court rules, and the outcome can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Arizona is one of at least four states with laws confronting the issue of bail for people in the country without authorization. Missouri and Alabama have laws similar to Arizona’s, while Virginia has a less stringent statute in which immigrants are allowed to argue their case for bail before a judge.

Arizona passed the no-bail law as it targeted illegal immigration through a series of measures in the Legislature and at the ballot box. It was among four immigration proposals approved by Arizonans in 2006. The no-bail law was proposed by then-state Rep. Russell Pearce, who would later succeed in pushing through Arizona’s landmark 2010 immigration enforcement law.

The challengers say the push by the Arizona Legislature to put the measure on the ballot was permeated with the intent to punish people in the country illegally for federal immigration violations. They also argue the state law is trumped by federal law.

The lawyers defending the law say its intent was to improve public safety, not punish people for federal immigration violations. They also said the state law doesn’t conflict with federal law.

Update hourly