Thomas Pledges to Prosecute Smugglers and Illegals Statewide
Pinal County SheriffBacks Thomas, Endorses Plan to Fully EnforceHuman-Smuggling Laws
PHOENIX, ARIZONA APRIL 20, 2010. In the first major policy initiative of his campaign forAttorney General, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced today a bold plan to take his effective prosecutions of human-smuggling cases statewide.
If elected Attorney General, Thomas proposed to prosecute all human-smuggling cases throughoutArizona—including cases against illegal immigrants who conspire to violate the state’s human-smuggling law.
In particular, Thomas would allow assistant attorneys general to be cross-deputized bycounty attorneysso they can prosecute these felony cases in countySuperior Courtsthroughout the state. He would provide these prosecution resources at no cost to the counties. Thomas added that if county attorneys are unwilling to avail themselves of this free service, he will urge thestate legislatureto amend the human-smuggling law to give the Attorney General jurisdiction over human-smuggling crimes so his office can handle the cases directly.
Appearing alongside Thomas at a press conference outside the state Capitol was Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. He announced he is endorsing Thomas for Attorney General. Sheriff Babeu also supports Thomas’ plan to prosecute human-smuggling cases statewide in the same manner Thomas has prosecuted them for years in Maricopa County.
When he resigned as Maricopa County Attorney to run for Attorney General, Thomas was the only prosecutor in the state who would prosecute both smugglers and illegal immigrants arrested for engaging in human-smuggling operations. These cases, brought in cooperation withSheriff Joe Arpaio, were criticized by criminal-defense lawyers and even the Mexican government starting in 2006. However, Thomas won every major challenge to his policy of prosecuting illegal immigrants under the state’s conspiracy laws. In 2008, theArizona Court of Appealsupheld these prosecutions.
“Illegal immigrationis down in Maricopa County and throughout Arizona in large part because Sheriff Arpaio and I have prosecuted both smugglers and illegal immigrants involved in human-smuggling operations,” Thomas said. “We need an Attorney General who will take this fight to the next level by fully enforcing the law across Arizona.”
Thomas pledged that if elected Attorney General, he will make available assistant attorneys general to prosecute human-smuggling cases in all 15 counties in Arizona. Thomas will insist only that the human-smuggling and conspiracy laws be fully enforced in those counties, meaning that they apply to both smugglers and illegal immigrants alike.
“There is no excuse for failing to prosecute illegal immigrants for these crimes,” Thomas said. “The law is the law, and Arizona’s courts have clearly upheld these prosecutions.”
“Our local Police and Sheriffs need the support and partnership with our prosecutors in order to enforce our illegal immigration laws and to best protect our Arizona families,” Babeu said.
Since Thomas released hislegal opinionto the Sheriff’s Office in 2005 interpreting the human-smuggling law, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has successfully prosecuted more than 1,000 defendants under the law. The vast majority were illegal immigrants. The conviction rate was 94 percent.
Under Thomas’ “no-amnesty” policy, he required that all such defendants plead guilty to a felony after doing time in jail, typically about 90 days. They are then deported and face prison time for violating their probation if they return to Maricopa County.
Thomas’ office successfully prosecuted theBaseline Killerand Serial Shooting suspects. He is in favor of the death penalty and has been criticized by defense lawyers for his toughplea bargainpolicies. He has tackled tough public corruption cases and led innovative programs to ensure better food safety and cracked down on graffiti andcruelty to animals.
Thomas is a graduate ofHarvard Law School. Prior to serving as Maricopa County Attorney, Thomas served as anAssistant Attorney Generalfor Arizona, Deputy Counsel andCriminal Justice Policy Advisorto the Governor, Special Assistant to the Director of theArizona Department of Corrections, and asDeputy County Attorney.
During Thomas' time as Maricopa County Attorney,crime ratesplummeted. The 19 percent drop is more than twice the national rate of decline, and in despite of an 11 percent increase in the county's population during that time. The illegal immigrant population has dropped by anywhere from 18 percent (Dept. ofHomeland Securityestimate) to 30 percent (Center for Immigration Studiesestimate). Like the fall in crime rates, this dramatic decline in illegal immigration is far greater than the average in the rest of the nation.
For more information on Andrew Thomas, please go towww.ThomasforArizona.com. To arrange an interview contact Jason Rose.