Court upholds Arizona law that denies bail to certain immigrants

SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court decided 2-1 on Tuesday to uphold an Arizona law that denies bail to immigrants who entered or remain in the country without documentation if they are arrested in connection with a felony.

The ruling by the U.S. 9thCircuit Court of Appeals upheld Arizona’s Proposition 100, a ballot measure passed 78% to 22% in 2006 to create bail exceptions for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

Two immigrants who were denied bail challenged the law in a class-action lawsuit. One of the immigrants was arrested for a drug offense, the other for assault, kidnapping and aiding a criminal syndicate.


“Because Proposition 100 is reasonably related to the legitimate goal of controlling flight risk, we hold that it is not excessive in violation of substantive due process under the Constitution of the United States,” Judge Richard C. Tallman, a Clinton appointee, wrote for the court.

Judge Raymond C. Fisher, also a Clinton appointee, dissented, arguing the state failed to present evidence that immigrants were more likely to flee than others arrested for felonies. He said Arizona was “plainly using the denial of bail as method to punish ‘illegal’ immigrants.”

“Proposition 100 categorically denies bail and thus requires pretrial detention for every undocumented immigrant charged with any of a broad range of felonies, regardless of the seriousness of the offense or the individual circumstances of the defendant, including the defendant’s strong ties to and deep roots in the community,” Fisher wrote.


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