By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services/East Valley Tribune
A federal appeals court will hear arguments Friday of whether Arizona voters stepped over the line by denying bail to illegal immigrants charged with certain crimes.
Cecillia Wang of the American Civil Liberties Union contends that keeping people locked up before their trial based solely on their immigration status amounts to punishment. She also said it presumes, improperly, that someone not in this country legally is automatically a flight risk without considering other factors.
She wants the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to declare the 2006 voter-approved constitutional amendment invalid.
But attorney Tim Casey said the voters are entitled to conclude that those accused of certain offenses should not be able to get out on bail to ensure they will show up in court. For example, he said, someone who is charged with a felony while already out on bail while awaiting trial, must remain locked up.
And Casey, who is defending the Maricopa County officials who were the first to implement the change, said considering the fact that the person broke the law by being here illegally is no different.