Thursday, January 15, 2009

Federal Judge Upholds Prosecution of Illegal Immigrants Under Human Smuggling Law

by County Attorney Andrew Thomas

A federal judge in Phoenix has upheld my office's prosecution of illegal immigrants who conspire to be smuggled into Arizona. This is another historic milestone on the path to securing our borders.

I have interpreted the state's human-smuggling law as applying to illegal immigrants (who hire human smugglers) in addition to the smugglers themselves. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is the only law enforcement official who has arrested illegal immigrants for conspiring to smuggle themselves into Arizona in violation of state law.

Activists for illegal immigrants have opposed these efforts by throwing the kitchen sink at us. Among the many tactics they've used--protests, picketing, recall campaign, etc.they've brought to bear against Sheriff Arpaio and me was a federal lawsuit they filed. They asked a federal judge to prohibit us from arresting and prosecuting these individuals. The Somos America Coalition of Arizona led this legal battle, along with the usual assortment of activists and politicians. The case has been pending since the fall of 2006.

On January 13, 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Broomfield dismissed the lawsuit in its entirety. Judge Broomfield found the plaintiffs lacked the legal right to shut down these cases in state court.

This ruling sends an important message that local government has the will and the legal means to address the illegal immigration problem in a manner harmonious and consistent with federal law. I call on prosecutors elsewhere in Arizona to review this ruling and give serious consideration to following our lead.

Sheriff Arpaio had this to say about the ruling: "We have made over 1200 felony arrests by arresting the smugglers and their co conspirators since 2006. Since that time, I have taken so much criticism from politicians and open borders activists who say all my deputies do is arrest landscapers and dishwashers. I continue to be puzzled why this office remains the only law enforcement agency in Arizona to enforce all aspects of the human smuggling law and County Attorney Thomas is the only prosecutor who prosecutes them. Despite the vicious comments made by some elected officials and activists, I will continue to enforce this law and other immigration laws."

Well said, Joe.

Read more articles on illegal immigration at Illegal Immigration Journal

No comments: