Luz Edith Ruiz Rascon is weary of her life in Maricopa County's Estrella Jail, where detention officers bark at her, the food is inedible, and every day is a day away from her two children, a 9-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son who is battling leukemia.

"It's taking so long," Rascon laments during a jailhouse interview. "Every day, there are so many indignities; they pile up against you."

Rascon's family needs her, she explains in Spanish. Her daughter cries when she visits or speaks over the phone to Rascon.

Chris Whetzel
Octavio Castaneda Flores, his wife, Brenda, and their three children, each of whom is a U.S. citizen.
Courtesy of the Flores Family
Octavio Castaneda Flores, his wife, Brenda, and their three children, each of whom is a U.S. citizen.
(From left to right) Attorneys Dori Zavala, Delia Salvatierra, and Johnny Sinodis, fighting the MCAO's cruel, unconstitutional treatment of the undocumented.
Jamie Peachey
(From left to right) Attorneys Dori Zavala, Delia Salvatierra, and Johnny Sinodis, fighting the MCAO's cruel, unconstitutional treatment of the undocumented.
County Attorney Bill Montgomery, inching to the center on immigration, while maintaining Andrew Thomas' hawkish policies.
Stephen Lemons
County Attorney Bill Montgomery, inching to the center on immigration, while maintaining Andrew Thomas' hawkish policies.
Luz Ruiz Rascon and her husband, Juan Camacho, who has had to be both father and mother to their two children during Rascon's six-month incarceration.
Courtesy of Juan Camacho
Luz Ruiz Rascon and her husband, Juan Camacho, who has had to be both father and mother to their two children during Rascon's six-month incarceration.

Her son is studying computer programming at Gateway Community College. He suffers nausea and vomiting from radiation treatments for his disease.

Her husband, Juan, who works in construction, has had to be the household's sole breadwinner, as well as both father and mother to the children. This, while Rascon has spent six months and counting in Estrella, where she is held "non-bondable," like a murderer, a child molester, or a serial rapist.

Rascon's crime? She made up a Social Security number 11 years ago to get a job packing vitamins at a GNC warehouse in Phoenix.

A Mexican national, she was arrested in one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's notorious job-site raids last August.

Her crime is victimless. The Social Security number belongs to no one.

Yet she stands accused of six counts of forgery and identity theft. And under Proposition 100, passed by voters in 2006 as part of a package of anti-immigrant laws, she can be refused bail if the "proof is evident or the presumption great" that she committed a "serious felony offense," defined by the Arizona Legislature as a class-four felony or above.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office could have charged Rascon with a class-six felony or even a misdemeanor, the latter done routinely in cases of forgery committed by underage college students purchasing alcohol.

She then would have been "bondable" or perhaps simply issued a citation and sent home.

But as in hundreds of such cases prosecuted here every year, the County Attorney's Office charges immigrants with class-four or even class-three felonies, forcing on them an unenviable choice: plead guilty to a felony charge that probably will result in deportation when they are turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or wait for months for trial in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jails.

This system was designed as a "deterrent" for illegal immigration by now-disbarred County Attorney Andrew Thomas and now-recalled state Senate President Russell Pearce, both immigration hawks.

Thomas' eventual successor, County Attorney Bill Montgomery, wishes to be seen as breaking with the Thomas era, partly by endorsing a watered-down version of comprehensive immigration reform and by reaching out to Hispanic groups, perhaps with an eye toward running for statewide office.

Yet he maintains the same crushing immigration-related policies of his predecessor. Like Thomas before him, he punishes aliens for working here illegally — though states are preempted from doing so by federal law.

So far, state and federal courts have turned a blind eye to this ongoing injustice. And an ACLU challenge to Prop 100's amendment to the Arizona Constitution languishes in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

But a handful of defense and immigration attorneys have taken on the otherwise hopeless cases created by Montgomery's devotion to Thomas' policies. Using the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Senate Bill 1070 in Arizona v. United States and other novel legal tactics, they seek to create hope for the damned by carving a pathway that other lawyers can follow.

That is, if their clients can hang on and remain in Arpaio's jails while they pursue what some might regard as a long-shot legal defense.

"My daughter encourages me," Rascon says, wiping at tears with handcuffed hands. "She is strong. She tells me not to sign the guilty plea."

Bill Montgomery shows little sympathy for the plight of Rascon or her family.

"Look, you can go through the jail and come up with a hard-luck story for everybody in there who's being prosecuted," the county attorney explains during an interview with New Times.

He admits that what her family is going through is "tough," but he says he's got a job to do. And part of that job, Montgomery insists, is combating identity theft. He points to the fact that Arizona was ranked fourth in identity-theft cases in 2011 and cites statistics showing that 25 percent of the complaints in such cases are employment-related.

But in Rascon's case, there is no complaint from a victim because there is no victim. She used her own name with a Social Security number that has no match in the Social Security database.

The number belongs to no one.

"We don't know that," Montgomery scoffs. "That Social Security number still can be issued."

Meaning that Montgomery is prosecuting Rascon based upon future possible victims, a legal theory that calls to mind the dystopian Steven Spielberg film Minority Report, with its "PreCrime" cops apprehending perpetrators years in advance of their transgressions.

He denies that Rascon and the hundreds like her processed each year by his office are charged differently because they are illegal or that any thought is given to the immigration consequences of a felony record.

Or that the MCAO pursues class-four felonies to make certain that migrants are denied bail under Prop 100.

"There is no policy in this office about charging somebody with an offense because of what it's going to do on a bonding issue," insists Montgomery. "We don't do that."

Still, there is a range of statutes under which someone using fake information for employment or other reasons can be charged, from simple forgery (which can be a class-four or -three felony) to criminal impersonation or possession of a forgery device (class-six felonies) to taking the identity of another (class four) or solicitation of forgery (class six).

The consequences of a class-four versus a class-six charge are significant for an undocumented immigrant.

With a class-six felony, an undocumented person could be released on their own recognizance by a Superior Court judge. Or a low bond could be set.

The alien may have an ICE hold, but if the individual is not a flight risk, ICE may release the hold and grant bail pending an immigration proceeding.

But once an undocumented individual is hit with a class-four felony, Prop 100 is triggered and the defendant can be held without bond before trial.

On the other hand, if an alien pleads guilty to a class-four or to certain class-six offenses, he or she will face the likelihood of deportation, plus a bar of 10 years or more before it is possible to reenter the United States legally.

Thus, County Attorney Montgomery wields a great deal of power over whether an undocumented person is treated like others in the United States when accused of a crime: i.e., innocent until proven guilty and, therefore, entitled to reasonable bail, unless he or she is alleged to have committed fairly heinous crimes.

Indeed, the county attorney can ensure that the accused are removed from the country and severed from their families, all because they were working without authorization, often with false identification.

Consider this: Of the 11 million to 12 million undocumented residents in this country who stand to benefit from the recent push for comprehensive immigration reform from U.S. senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, as well as from President Obama, there probably are 11 million to 12 million sets of fake IDs in circulation.

In other words, the undocumented, who generally are in the country to work, often obtain false identification to secure that work. If they all were convicted of felonies, they would not benefit from the immigration reform that even Montgomery thinks necessary.

Yet Montgomery rejects the allegation that he is treating the undocumented unfairly.

"We charge the case with the evidence we have that presents a reasonable likelihood of conviction," he states. "We don't charge any case with an eye toward what the plea might be."

The immigration consequences of those charges?

"What the federal government decides is up to the federal government," he says. "If they changed tomorrow and say these offenses are not deportable, I'm not going to chase the federal policy and find out what would be deportable. It's up to them."

Montgomery denies that he has met with anyone at ICE to discuss how he charges the undocumented.

However, Montgomery's employees have met with ICE personnel, reportedly so ICE could advise deputy county attorneys on how they can charge the undocumented for the desired effect: deportation.

This was first reported in late 2011 on the blog of local immigration attorney David Asser, who claimed he had learned that ICE attorneys gave a presentation to county prosecutors, teaching them which forgery charges would trigger deportation.

Asser related that some felony forgery and ID-theft-related charges are considered by immigration courts to be "crimes involving moral turpitude," making an alien ineligible for bond from an immigration judge and unlikely to receive a cancellation of removal.

"ICE has negotiated the ultimate plea [deal] with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office," wrote Asser, "ensuring that hardworking people who might have used a fake ID or fake Social Security number, but who have not defrauded anyone or victimized anyone . . . do not get an opportunity to present their case to an immigration judge."

ICE's Phoenix office confirmed to New Times that county attorneys had received information about the immigration consequences of crimes.

Asked about ICE's statement following the interview with Montgomery, County Attorney's Office spokesman Jerry Cobb confirmed that "some of our prosecutors did, in fact, attend a presentation by ICE" on this topic "within the last year."

Critics of Montgomery claim that the MCAO purposefully targets undocumented Latinos, charging them with felonies so it can punish them for working and living in Arizona without papers.

The county attorney denies this, saying all defendants accused of using false documents are charged with class-four felonies or above, regardless of the circumstances.

But this is not true of underage adults accused of purchasing alcohol with fake identification. In practice, local cops charge them with any number of misdemeanors.

According to the city of Tempe, the part-time home of thousands of college freshmen, 224 tickets were issued last year by city police for misdemeanor charges of using a false ID or someone else's ID to buy booze.

The Tempe Police Department even has an operations order instructing cops to confiscate underage drinkers' IDs and cite them with one of several misdemeanors before releasing them, if they meet certain criteria.

Such misdemeanors are processed by city courts and county justice courts, but Tempe PD spokesman Michael Pooley explains that an officer could charge an underage college student with a felony forgery charge, which then would be handled by the County Attorney's Office and adjudicated in Superior Court.

"A lot of these kids, we don't want to jam 'em up with a felony," Pooley says of the practice.

Montgomery admits that such cases could be prosecuted as class-four felonies, just as is an undocumented alien using a false ID or Social Security number for work.

So why doesn't he do this?

"That's got to be submitted [to the County Attorney's Office by law enforcement]," he says. "I don't do the investigation . . . I can't tell [the police] whom to arrest."

But, hypothetically, could Montgomery ask a city attorney to send such misdemeanors to the MCAO for possible prosecution as felonies?

"I can't do that," Montgomery demurs. "It's not an appropriate role for a prosecutor. You say I've got all of that power? I decline to use it improperly."

Veteran criminal defense attorney Antonio Bustamante, who handles Prop 100 cases, has a blunt reply for Montgomery's assertion.

"For him to say he has no control over it is nonsense," Bustamante says. "He and his top people control all of that."

In fact, deputy county attorneys represent the state in county justice courts. And Montgomery's attorneys have ready access to a county grand jury, which could charge underage drinkers using fake driver's licenses with felonies — if Montgomery wanted it that way.

Cobb claimed that though this "technically" may be correct, most cases of underage imbibers are handled by city courts, not justice courts. And, anyway, the likelihood of convicting such a defendant on felony forgery instead of a misdemeanor "is extremely low to non-existent."

Despite Montgomery's rationalizations, the way his office prosecutes Prop 100 cases conflicts with his embrace of the so-called SANE immigration program, developed over the past two years by local advocacy groups such as the Real Arizona Coalition.

The SANE proposal calls for securing the border, "accounting" for the undocumented in the United States, achieving "necessary bureaucratic reform," and engaging "all levels of government."

Conservative by the standards of pro-immigration advocates, the plan proposes that "those without lawful authority" be allowed to "come forward and gain legal status," though the initiative lacks consensus on how those who qualify for that status might become citizens.

All the same, Montgomery's support for the program, inaccurately referred to as "the Montgomery plan" by some, is an attempted shift on the issue by a politician who campaigned for office in 2010 as a pro-SB 1070 nativist.

Montgomery ran in the GOP primary against then-acting County Attorney Rick Romley, appointed by the Board of Supervisors to replace immigration hardliner Andrew Thomas after Thomas left to pursue the Republican nomination for Arizona Attorney General, a bid he lost to current Attorney General Tom Horne.

Romley had bucked the Arizona GOP's immigration stance, publicly advising Governor Jan Brewer to veto SB 1070 and suspending Thomas' controversial practice of prosecuting migrants — not just the coyotes who transport them into the United States — under Arizona's human-smuggling statute.

Montgomery promised to reverse Romley's move, stumping at nativist rallies in Phoenix and, infamously, at the border on the ranch of anti-Semite Glenn Spencer, leader of the hate group American Border Patrol.

There, along with staunch anti-immigrationists Pearce, Arpaio, and then-U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth, Montgomery led the crowd in a fist-pumping chant of "U.S.A., U.S.A.!"

Asked whether he knew at the time that Spencer had once played host to militia-woman Shawna Forde, arrested by the FBI outside Spencer's ranch for the 2009 home-invasion murders of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father, Raul, Montgomery claims that he did not.

"I have not been back since," Montgomery offers, with a chagrined look on his face.

His pandering to the far right worked. With the help of Arpaio, who endorsed Montgomery and dumped more than $500,000 into TV ads and mailers painting Romley as pro-amnesty, Montgomery triumphed, besting Romley in the primary by 12 percentage points.

He later coasted through the general election, as Democrats did not bother to field a candidate that year.

A shrewd operator, Montgomery is personable and open to the media, regularly holding bi-monthly press conferences, where reporters can ask him anything they want.

But the West Point graduate and Gulf War veteran has a talent for channeling Machiavelli — and for adopting stances that are politically expedient.

Before Thomas left office in 2010, then-Deputy County Attorney Montgomery had a surreptitiously recorded conversation with former Supervisor Don Stapley in which he called Thomas' pal, Arpaio, borderline senile.

Ironically, in the same conversation, Montgomery expressed concern that Thomas was alienating Hispanics from the Republican Party with his anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Once elected, Montgomery began to pivot slightly, perhaps knowing that to win in a future statewide general election, he might have to moderate his public anti-immigrant tone so popular with the Republican base in Maricopa County.

In 2011, he began appearing at forums sponsored by the Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform, from which the SANE initiative eventually would spring.

At one such public forum in May at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., Montgomery walked a fine line.

While defending Russell Pearce as "neither a bigot nor a racist" and insisting that Arizona had suffered an immigration-related onslaught that included "beheadings," he dismissed mass deportations of the undocumented as impractical and inhumane and suggested a "three-year hiatus against enforcement" of immigration laws as the undocumented come forward to register under the SANE plan.

Montgomery spoke of growing up "just south of South Central Los Angeles in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood" and avowed that his Roman Catholic faith is "heavily influenced" by Hispanic culture.

Nevertheless, he continues the systematic policy of persecution authored by Thomas and Pearce, one that adheres to the slogan "attrition through enforcement" — the stated intent of SB 1070, Arizona's "papers, please" law.

Though Prop 100 preceded SB 1070 by four years, it was one of several laws and ballot initiatives designed to drive undocumented Hispanics from the state.

It mainly was pushed by Pearce and his fellow nativists, who were openly antagonistic toward the undocumented.

A March 2008 Arizona Republic article on Prop 100 and its effects paraphrased Thomas' calling the constitutional amendment a "de facto deportation tool" in which undocumented defendants are hit with felonies, held without bond, and effectively coerced into pleading guilty.

When Thomas was deposed in 2010 for the ACLU's legal challenge to Prop 100, he doubled down on that statement, crowing that his office lobbied for Prop 100 and that it was part of his "program" to address illegal immigration.

By charging illegal immigrants with felonies, "a deterrent message goes forward to other would-be illegal immigrants," Thomas said under oath, "that they should not violate the law and come into Arizona illegally."

Additionally, Thomas offered his reason for "obtaining a felony conviction" against an undocumented person before turning over him or her to ICE:

"It will make it harder for that convicted person to immigrate legally to the United States or become a U.S. citizen."

Unlike Montgomery, who depicts the pursuit of felonies against the undocumented as something he has no power to change, Thomas specifically referred to his "policy direction to seek a felony conviction for those cases."

Thomas called this "my own no-amnesty policy," because it makes it more difficult "for those people prosecuted and convicted in that way to receive amnesty and become citizens if they have a felony conviction."

Thomas and his allies in the Arizona Legislature knew exactly what they were doing. The proposition was sold to the public as a way, in the words of Russell Pearce, to keep "dangerous thugs" incarcerated.

"By voting yes for this initiative," Pearce wrote in a statement that appeared in the Arizona Secretary of State's 2006 voter's guide, "we keep violent criminals in jail."

Undocumented aliens were to be charged with "serious felony offenses as prescribed by the [L]egislature," in the words of the constitutional amendment. It was not made clear that these "serious" offenses would include such non-violent transgressions as making up a Social Security number or using a fake ID to obtain employment.

Lack of valid documentation is the very definition of "undocumented." Those residing in Arizona without authorization cannot obtain driver's licenses, and Mexican Consulate-issued matricular cards and Mexican driver's licenses are viewed with suspicion by law enforcement.

Additionally, under the portion of 1070 upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, "reasonable suspicion" on the part of a law enforcement officer is enough for detention and an immigration inquiry.

The combination of SB 1070, Prop 100, routine stops by law enforcement, and Arpaio's notorious immigration roundups and raids created a situation in which every undocumented resident of this state is a potential felon waiting to be convicted, separated from his or her family, and sent packing.

Prop 100's legislative history, the statements of Thomas and Pearce, and the U.S. Department of Justice's 2011 findings that Arpaio's raids and sweeps specifically target Latinos — in violation of the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law — all belie Montgomery's rationales for a cruel, bigoted policy.

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution explicitly forbids "excessive bail," and Arizona courts have held that bail cannot be used as a means of inflicting punishment, given the presumption of innocence that all defendants should have.

So it would seem that either the courts or the Sheriff's Office or the county prosecutor would know how many people sit non-bondable in Maricopa County Jails under the dictates of Prop 100.

Yet all three entities claim ignorance of this information after repeated inquiries and public-records requests from New Times.

In reality, the MCSO has access to this information through its computerized Jail Management System, as do the county prosecutor and the courts.

And when faced with a subpoena and a deposition under oath during the ACLU's Prop 100 lawsuit, MCSO employees were able to cough up some stats.

In his 2010 deposition, MCSO Sergeant Jonathan Knapp testified that in a five-month period from August to the end of December 2009, 2,070 inmates were booked and held non-bondable under Prop 100, 402 of whom had been arrested by the MCSO.

He also testified that there were 20 to 30 so-called "Simpson hearings" — wherein non-bondable defendants can appeal to have bail granted — during that same period,

However, the standard of proof is so high that Simpson hearings rarely are won. Knapp said that in all of the 20 to 30 Simpson hearings, defendants lost.

Knapp also said that some defendants don't know their immigration statuses when questioned in an interrogation carried out by MCSO deputies before being read their Miranda rights.

And he acknowledged that people with legal status have been held non-bondable by the county.

In one case, he testified, a U.S. citizen was held non-bondable for 45 days before the defendant's lawyer was able to produce a birth certificate issued in the United States.

It is the judge at the initial appearance, or "IA court," who decides whether an arrestee can be held without bail.

Prosecutors and deputies show up at the initial appearance and present the judge with information alleging that there is probable cause to believe someone is illegal — and that the "proof is evident or the presumption great" that the person has committed at least a class-four felony.

Most accused in Prop 100 cases are indigent, but they are not allowed a public defender at the IA court, and they are not informed at the IA court that they have a right to a Simpson hearing to challenge their non-bondable status.

These defendants eventually are assigned public defenders paid for by the county, but one such lawyer deposed for the ACLU lawsuit stated that it sometimes takes four weeks before a public defender meets with his or her client.

And so, from the IA court on, the county subjects these defendants to grinding pressure to plead guilty and thereby escape Arpaio's jails — as their sentences may amount to no more than probation or time served.

But that guilty plea, once the defendants are turned over to ICE, makes them removable and barred from ever benefiting from whatever immigration reform Congress may pass this year.

The argument that the undocumented are more likely to be a flight risk is contradicted by the simple fact that most funneled through this system do not want to be deported.

Often, they have extensive ties to the community and own homes and, like Luz Ruiz Rascon, have American-citizen children and have lived and worked in Arizona for a long time.

Their entire lives are here. Take, for example, Octavio Castaneda Flores, who was arrested in October by an investigator for the Arizona Department of Transportation and still sits non-bondable in the Durango Jail under charges of forgery and taking the ID of another.

Ironically, the identity Flores allegedly stole belongs to Luis Franco, a convicted felon with multiple prior offenses currently serving a two-year sentence in the Arizona Department of Corrections for a dangerous-drug violation.

Flores purportedly used the identity to work at an Ashley Furniture store in Phoenix for eight years. He has lived in Arizona since he came here with his parents when he was 15.

The 27-year-old has every reason to fight to remain in the country. He has a wife and three U.S.-citizen children, with another on the way.

He graduated from high school in the Valley, and his brothers, his parents, and his entire extended family are here.

Flores is an applicant for President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which could accept him — if he is found not guilty of a felony. A conviction not only would scotch his chances for DACA but would make him deportable.

The young father has proved, on more than one occasion, that he is not a flight risk. As was originally reported by New Times ("Bill Montgomery's Ghost of Christmas Present: Injustice," December 24), when Flores' arresting officer, ADOT Detective Chris Oberly, didn't show for his Simpson hearing the week before Christmas, a judge granted Flores a low bond of $3,600.

Flores' lawyer of record, Dori Zavala, and Zavala's fellow immigration attorney, Delia Salvatierra, chair of the Immigration Section of the State Bar of Arizona, persuaded ICE to lift its hold on Flores, thus allowing him to bond out and be with his wife and kids for the holiday.

The judge continued the hearing until January 7, and Flores dutifully appeared, just as he did for an appearance in immigration court during the interim.

ADOT's Oberly once more was a no-show, but ADOT sent a stand-in, and the Simpson hearing went forward.

Zavala argued that her client had no "intent to defraud" and had not created a fake ID to work.

She also raised serious constitutional issues, specifically that the state was barred, under federal law, from using as evidence Flores' I-9, a federal form certifying eligibility to work lawfully in the United States, as well as any associated documents in his personnel file with Ashley Furniture.

And she observed that the U.S. Supreme Court's recent SB 1070 decision in Arizona v. U.S. had upheld the lower court's injunction against section 5(c) of the law, which made it a crime to seek or hold employment in Arizona without valid documents.

In that ruling, the Supreme Court held that federal law trumps state law in this regard. The majority observed that the federal framework "reflects a considered judgment that making criminals out of aliens engaged in unauthorized work" is "inconsistent with federal policy."

Both Zavala and Salvatierra, who represents Rascon, along with their colleague Johnny Sinodis, have picked up on using the argument that the County Attorney's Office is prosecuting aliens criminally for unlawful employment by pursuing forgery and identity-theft charges against them.

This may be another reason why Montgomery is reluctant to admit that there is a punitive intent behind the policy he inherited from Thomas: He knows the practice runs counter to federal preemption of SB 1070's section 5(c).

Zavala says she first explored these arguments when she stumbled upon a 2011 decision from the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which held that a federal I-9 form cannot be used to prosecute someone on state forgery or identity-theft charges.

She spoke with the lawyer who wrote that appellate brief, immigration attorney Bruce Nestor. Nestor told her the fallout from that decision was one reason the county attorney in the case abandoned future prosecutions on similar grounds.

Sharing this information with Salvatierra and Sinodis, the team plotted their unusual legal strategy.

With two clients willing to remain incarcerated, they decided to battle Montgomery's minions at every step, making the prosecutors work overtime to keep this mother and father with otherwise clean records behind bars.

"I believe we have a winning argument," the tenacious Salvatierra says. "I don't know if we have a winning argument on the lower court level, but we have very sympathetic clients who are willing to stick it out."

The lawyers' strategy is still in play, and it has scored wins in some skirmishes and losses in others.

The judge in Flores' January 7 hearing wasn't having any of the constitutional arguments, at least not at that time, and ordered Flores back into custody, an action that left the courtroom stunned and many of Flores' family members present for the hearing in tears.

However, Zavala was able to get Flores' case remanded to the grand jury, based on misleading statements by Oberly. The County Attorney's Office stubbornly refused to drop charges and persuaded the grand jury to re-indict Flores.

Salvatierra did not score a respite from jail for Rascon, but she was able to sever her client's case from those of the other defendants from the GNC raid, workers who were arrested with Rascon and whose tales of woe may not seem as sympathetic to a jury as her clients' story.

If these victories seem picayune, keep in mind that the County Attorney's Office is fighting this immigration A-Team tooth and nail, sometimes playing dirty in the process.

For instance, Deputy County Attorney W. Tattnall Rush filed a motion alleging several historical prior offenses committed by Flores, including resisting arrest, possession of narcotics, and driving under the influence.

One big problem: The priors Rush methodically listed in his motion did not belong to Flores; they belonged to convicted felon Luis Franco, whose identity Flores allegedly used for work.

Only when Rush was confronted with this information by New Times did he move to withdraw the motion in open court, claiming it was an error.

After the fact, Montgomery backed up Rush, the attorney responsible for most, if not all, of the MCAO's identity-theft cases.

Regarding the false allegation of historical priors, Montgomery maintains that he had "made that same mistake" while a line attorney.

Montgomery also denied that Rush filed the motion in an attempt to prejudice the judge in the case against Flores.

On another subject, when asked why his office had not pursued criminal charges against local employers, since knowingly accepting false ID is just as illegal as proffering it under state law, Montgomery insists that he would like to.

But, he maintains, no law enforcement entity has submitted such a case.

"I'd be happy to prosecute the employer, too," Montgomery says. "If I had the case that I can make, I will do it."

Meanwhile, Rascon and Flores sit in jail, prevented from even touching their children and spouses during visitations.

Flores was grateful for his two-week break over Christmas. He got to spend time with his kids and submit the required biometrics (such as fingerprints) for his DACA application.

"When you're outside, you think differently from in here," he says during an interview at Durango. "In here, I'm always worried about my children, my wife, who's taking care of them, who's paying the bills."

When asked about how he would respond to Montgomery's insistence that ID theft, even for employment, is a serious crime, Flores' brows furrow:

"I'd ask him, 'What would you do, if you were me?'"

Montgomery offers no apology for this policy or the heartbreak it causes families. Prosecutors typically aren't softhearted when it comes to the accused, no matter what they are accused of.

Yet, despite his continuing Thomas' hard-line policies when it comes to the undocumented, Montgomery is a departure from his predecessor in a couple of important ways — he is not at war with the Board of Supervisors and has not pursued vendettas and ginned up bogus charges against political enemies.

And by Arizona standards, at least, his SANE immigration stance is more moderate than the views of the red-state Mexican-bashers he courted to get elected. He even has taken some flak from right-wingers for his new-found "sanity" on immigration reform.

But his actions do not yet comport with his feint to the political center.

A religious man, Montgomery was asked what he would tell Jesus Christ in the afterlife, should his lord and savior ask him why his office treated an otherwise law-abiding mom like Rascon so callously.

After a pause, he responds, "That I did what I had to do. That I rendered unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's."

So he is washing his hands, like Pontius Pilate?

"Oh, no, and to compare the two is outrageous!" he says, later adding, "Jesus didn't take anyone's identity."

Delia Salvatierra and her fellow lawyers have set up a fund to support the legal fight against the MCAO's anti-immigrant policies at
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My Voice Nation Help

While I'm no fan of Sheriff Joe and his immigration sweeps, and I'm sympathetic to Mrs. Flores' plight, I must disagree that her crime is victimless. Years ago I was contacted by the IRS who insisted that I didn't report (and pay taxes) all of my income. They insisted that I worked for an employer and claimed exempt, and they wanted me to pay taxes on that income. According to them, I worked for a place that I never heard of. I tried contacting this business, but they stonewalled me, probably in an effort to protect themselves and the employee that was using my SS#.

I was young, didn't know my rights, and had pretty much nothing in the way of resources. I ended up having my wages attached to pay income tax on someone else's earnings, someone who randomly picked my SS# to get a job.


She did the crime and she should do the time.  Undoubtedly US taxpayer dollars are paying for the treatment of her child's cancer so you would think she would be a bit more respectful of our laws.


"America is great because it is good, when it ceases to be good, it ceases to be great."

Alex De Tocqueville, a very wise 1840's French Historian.

This sum's up America's Immigration, and Economic Crisises, which both began January 2008 with the I.C.E. Deportation/Incarceration Programs which are responsible for Tens of Thousands of now Dead Hispanic's at the Harsh U.S. Mexico Border where I.C.E. Dumped Hundreds of Thousands of Human Beings into a known "Drug War" with nothing, not even water to be Killed, or to Die of the Harsh Elements.

To: Good, and Brotherhood, from Sea to shining Sea.


After reading seaveral of the comments on the page I feel that I might be in the wrong forum. I am and will allways be a republican and I live in Arizona where the border crossings are bad. What happened to the idiology of taking care of your own first and others later. We are a democracy that gives billions of dollars to other countries and is talking about raising taxes. And know we want to take in at least 11 millon people. I understand all the pollitics to this endenor but I am against it. TAKE CARE OF THE POOR AND OTHERS IN THE US FIRST


To: Mother Jones

It sounds like you are a religious person which I appreciate, but we have a constitutional law that separates government from state. WE THE PEOPLE are having a hard enough time fending for our selfs and we have had the burden of the illegal population on our backs for some many years.


I agree with you that the point of the article was about her treatment at the hands of the criminal justice system.  Having worked in that system for years, I know that our legal system is not what the pollyanna's describe.  Also, you are right in that I do not know that she does not know any English at all.  But many many immigrants from Mexico are here for years and make no effort to learn English.  I truly believe that if you are willing to learn English, you should be permitted to stay and, if you are not willing, you should be deported.


The Pilgrims should have done, but it is too late for them (and for the Native Americans then and since, unfortunately).  It is difficult to move somewhere and both survive and learn.  However, it can be done if the individual has enough commitment to their new land and its people.  My elderly relatives did not speak perfect English.  But they tried, and that is the point.  I have an uncle who has lived most of his life overseas.  He came over once, with a friend, who spoke no English.  The friend watched US television, and learned.  He would not then (or now) pass as a college English professor (who would?).  However, with my uncle's help, and taking the proactive approach, he was able to communicate on at least a basic level.  Every immigrant watches television.  Why not watch English speaking television and learn?  Same with radio stations.  There are many varieties, listen to one in English.  Talk to people whom you know that are bi-lingual.  Show that you have something of a commitment to your new country.  And, unfortunately, their bilingual children drop out of school at the highest rate of any group, because they do not get any support at home.   This dooms them to a perpetual underclass which they do not deserve.

We all have our problems, and higher priorities.  But if you live in the US for eleven years, that is more than enough time to be able to communicate in English.  It is not easy, but nothing is easy.  It is not easy for we who are here or for the people who arrive.  And, for the record, I believe that anyone who wants to move to the US, and is neither a criminal nor desirous of blowing us up, should be allowed to do so.  But with rights come responsibility.  No one has an inherent right to move to another country.  Many countries do not permit immigration at all.  If a country is willing to afford someone the option of moving here, the least that person can do to earn this privilege is to learn the language.


Thank you mrh0202201091. I hope the same for you. Goodbye


normajae, i am laughing now! I am not a "white supremist", nor did i say "treat them like cattle" nor am i a "Nazi", sorry. The only people i hate are only an exwife, people who knowly commit crimes then cry like babies when caught instead of accepting responsibilty for what they've done, and the people who scream support for them. And illegals are crimminals.


motherjones. I've spent my time in the desert, protecting the your right to say what you want. I've been to hell, and paid for it dearly. Your misguided efforts to disparage the God loving citizens, and THEIR country, against the hoard of illegal aliens will earn you your time in Hell, you old cunt. You forgot to say that these illegals are all cowards who leave their country instead staying and fighting to improve their company. They instead, come to our country with a pack or drugs straped to their back, knowing that they are commiting a crime. Steal someones identity, they know is another crime, and then cry when their caught. And then hope cunts, like you, will scream and yell that the illegal, crime commiting cowards, are being treated unfairly. I love my country and the citizens that i have killed for and if you are a citizen, you will go to a special hell for turning your back on Him and your country. You should be put on a deportation bus, and sent back with the criminals you love so much. Preach your disrespect for this country and its citizens from your new home. Oh yes, fuck you, you old cunt! You are the shithead! 


That's good Mutha Jones.  I suggest you get a writer or, better yet, learn to write yourself.  It can be done!

Unfortunately, your attitude represents one of the reasons the right wing has gotten as far as it has in this country.  Three of the most beautiful words in the dictionary, liberal, progressive, and multicultural, have been demonized, quite successfully unfortunately, because of people who have accepted bastardized interpretations of them, as propagated by the right wing.

Liberal means tolerant.  This includes tolerance of other peoples' opinions.  Liberals were, until the term was hijacked by the politically-coerced censorship set, reasonable people who wanted to make things better for all, not just a few 'protected' peoples.  To a traditional liberal, social justice was for everyone, not just for the flavor of the day.  To a genuine liberal, who no longer exists in the mainstream of today's political debate, censorship is anathema.  People with whom you disagree may be engaged, and reasoned with.  A true liberal does not shoot inaccurate labels at anyone who not only does not agree with them, but might phrase things differently in agreement.  A true liberal cares for all people, and is not roped into flow charts of good peoples and bad peoples.  There was a wonderful line attributable to Zero Mostel when asked if he would work with Jerome Robbins, who cooperated with HUAC, "Lefties don't blacklist."  That is no longer the case.  Liberals also resist any imposition of religion into a secularized society.  This includes Fundamentalist Christianity, but it also includes ANY OTHER RELIGION. 

Multicultural is another beautiful word which makes many people cringe.  Not because the word is abhorrent, but because the concept has been hijacked.  The idea that all cultures enrich a country, and should be respected, is a great one.  I firmly believe it is this word, spoken or not, which represents what has made the US such a great country.  Every immigrant group that has come to the US, from the Dutch on down, has made the US a better place.  To honor other peoples' cultures is to honor yourself.

But what does it mean today, in our politically-coerced censorship era?  It means no one should make any effort to be a part of a country.  It means to learn the language of a country is to somehow demean yourself and your own culture.  That is not what multicultural means.  A country has a shared language.  Every immigrant group through history has learned English.  Most of these groups were proud to do so.  My own ancestors spoke other languages, and kept their cultures within their homes and their families, as well as their communities.  But, if someone from the government had spoken to them in their native tongues, they would have been insulted, as it would have insinuated they were incapable of speaking English.  Their languages of origin continued to be spoken, and taught to their children.  But, when dealing on a public basis, English was recognized as the language of the US, which it is.  If a person or group will not grasp this basic element of respect, then they do not belong here, and are not worthy of respect themselves.

Dr. Martin Luther King said he wanted to live in a world where people are judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.  Well, I submit that to move to a country and make no effort to learn the language of this country, demonstrates their character is extremely questionable.  A true progressive would help and encourage these people to learn, not insist that everyone else pander to their ignorance.   Multicultural does not necessarily mean that the US should become a Tower of Babel.

I fully expect your response to be hysterical, accusatory, and and full of labels.  As I say, to those who genuflect at the altar of politically-coerced censorship, reason is a pejorative.


Arizona has a well deserved egregious reputation on almost every measure of civilization, whether with regards to education, human rights, treatment of its inmates, treatment of employees, you name it.  I grieve at the way people are pushed around in this state, and have little or no recourse from a government which, until recently, included a Nazi sympathizer in the legislature.

All that said, we are a country with fewer resources to help people than in the past.  It is a huge waste of money to subsidize ignorance.  It is wrong headed, and goes against people being helped and helping themselves.  It is irresponsible and disrespectful to move to a country, any country, and from any country, and make absolutely no effort to communicate with the people in their language.  I believe in helping people, but I do not subscribe to enabling them.  If someone moves here they need to learn English.  If you have lived here for at least eleven years and made no effort to learn English than this is the wrong country for you.  You need to move to a country where your language of choice is spoken.  If I offer you a job, and you are unwilling to go to this job, you are not helping yourself.  If someone offers you a service, and you are unwilling to travel to an office to claim this service, you are not helping yourself (not unable, unwilling).  The time is past where all one needs to do is say help me, and wait for help to be delivered.  It is simply never going to happen again.  People need to take responsibility for their actions.

I do not wish for this lady to be in custody.  She is not a criminal.  However, she is not a legitimate US resident either.  Send her home.  Or, give her a reasonable amount of time to learn English.  If she will not, then send her home.  And that goes for anyone who moves here and will not show the common respect and decency to learn the language.  This does not mean abandoning your culture, or not showing pride in your origins, it means making an effort instead of waiting for everyone else to pander to your ignorance.  I share this view with the great fellow liberal Walter Cronkite.    


OOK wow, sounds like a sure fire plan to me dude.


Yes, i am a sinner, and so are you. I have given my life to Christ many times. I have been given last rights three times thus far, all in the service of the military and its citizens. Evil has not takenover my mind, but the protection of my fellow citizens. The Lord sent a hoard of locusts to Egypt in order to devour the food of the citizens, an now, he sends a hoard of cowardly illegal scum to devour the rescources of this nation and its citizens. And, as i have done twice before, i fight to protect this nation now. I fought for the Dream Act, for it protects our young citizens. Regardless of how, they are citizens, but those among us, who are here illegally, have to go. And countrys like mexico, have dual-citzenship, so despite the propaganda, familys do not have to split up. It is the illegal cowardly scum that seperate the family and then cry like babies that this country is doing it. A lie! My own gardner is a wetback, and i have reported him and company he words with to our illustrious Sheriff Joe. That is my duty to my country!


Then send them to God, so he can take care of them, not us. He even loves cowards, which is what they all are. To desert their own country, instead of fighting to change their country, is the greatest form of cowardice there is.  And when they come here they fly the flag of their previous country, the one the cowards deserted, and say their proud to be mexicans. No, just cowardly leeches. Send them back or send them to God! 


I don't feel sorry for these people just like in Mexico when you are in their country illegally.

Lets talk about it from that point of view for a change!


I am a victim of identity theft here in AZ. I don't bear my grudges against ALL illegals, just the one who used my info. She claimed "exempt" on her W-4's, and then went on to make $28K in one year and $30K the next year. Because of this the IRS audited me for unpaid taxes, I lost my house, my bank accounts were emptied and here 3 years later I am still trying to get some shred of a resemblance to the life that I once had. I worked hard to put myself through college and get a good job to support myself and my children (especially after thier father passed 5 years ago) and continue to work hard but it is very hard for me to feel like illegals (who use stolen or forged identification) are the ones being wronged in these situations when I am living proof that that is not always the case. I work with and am friends with several people who came here illegally and have not done these things in order to get a job. They have proved that they are invaluable workers and have been granted work visas and/or green cards. If you are here to contribute to our society as yourself then by all means stay, if you are here to use someone else's i.d. and get them in trouble for your actions with the federal/state/local governments and then just move on to someone else's i.d. then you really should not be here.


Illegal Entry is a CRIME..Working without authorization is a crime..producing a false govt. document is a crime..The sooner they deport this criminal trash the better!


She did this eleven years ago and she STILL does not speak English?  Send her home, she does not belong here.  No one should be living in the US for eleven years without learning English.

Kaytee Fournier
Kaytee Fournier

I hope Bill Montgomery gets hit by a bus... walking hand-in-hand with Jan Brewer and Joe Arpaio...

Stephen Grange
Stephen Grange

Beyond better handle on public relations? Not much difference...Partisan and willing to spend tax dollars for own desires is an exact match.

Jennifer Elaine Hammond
Jennifer Elaine Hammond

One of Ruiz Rascon's co-defendants got a not guilty verdict in trial this past Friday.


Forging a SS# is a real law breaker and i do not feel sorry for her 1 bit.Her husband knew what she was doing so he ought to be in jail with her.I know we will have a lot of people out there crying for her but it is tough luck.How many of these do gooders have had there SS # stolen?They ought to give her at least 10 yrs in prison for this.

Joe Kennedy
Joe Kennedy

LMFAO. Is Arpaio any different from a fool?


@glennp21 being a part of the nazi/fascist party of NO (repugs) only shows just how far you have become a person of petty thoughts and deeds


@glennp21 religion has no part of our government WE THE PEOPLE IS FOR ALL THE PEOPLE not just the ones you want 


@Steve70 Go back to the desert and rot. Protecting us? From what? The dishwashers? You dumb, lazy redneck.


@soulmercer7 Huh? I never endorsed political correctness or censorship, never would.

Nor do I have a problem with people learning English, or any other language for that matter. 

I think many immigrants are just busy working their asses off and making sure their kids get to school and do their homework. The kids are usually bilingual. Keep in mind many immigrants are not well-educated. And learning a language is tough even for the well educated.

Did all of the Pilgrims learn Wopanaak (the language of the native Wampanoag)? Um, no. 


@soulmercer7  Why do you assume that Rascon "made no effort to speak English" or that she doesn't know any English at all for that matter? Just because she preferred to do an in depth interview in her native tongue? That seems like a pretty big presumption. Also, the point of the article is that she should be given a "reasonable amount of time to learn English" or just a defense to deportation at all. Right now she is in criminal proceedings and the plea offer equals automatic deportation. With a different plea she'll still face deportation, but an immigration judge will decide if she qualifies to stay. Certain convictions equal automatic deportation with no defense. I think the point of the story is that criminal prosecutions should punish the criminal activity, not try to get the person automatically deported without letting an immigration judge decide.


@Steve70 Sorry, dumbass, they are not going to go. They're staying. There will be immigration reform this year. Here's hoping you die soon of natural causes and get that last right one last time, so you can make room for another undocumented kid. 

Oh, and I got a message from your God for you: FUCK YOU, SHITHEAD!


@Steve70 They are more courageous than you'll ever be, asshole. When's the last time you've crossed the desert for a better life and to feed your kids. Here's hoping God has a special place in hell reserved for xenophobic trash like you.


@Joe Kennedy Yes, he is also a sadist.


No, but thank you for asking. So, they let you out of your room when you take your medication? That's good, goodbye.


Sorry, but you have become boring. You are a great example for a saying my father had, "Never try to teach a cunt how to sing, it wastes your time and annoys the cunt". And you sure are an annoyance.


@Steve70 Something else, play the vet card elsewhere, fucktard. .George Lincoln Rockwell was a vet. So was Timothy McVeigh. Bet you guys wldve gotten along just fine.


@MotherJones Mother,ur getting pretty personnel now,i doubt if the SHERIFF would give a shit if a bunch of vets said hello to you now DOUCHBAG.Be good LYYYmonds.


@truthseekeraz @swanson01john --Why cant some one have there own mind?I know you write for some one Besides i notice you do not like the real truth.Hell i might even work close by you would you be surprised?Speaking of TROLLS you write for this rag so who is the troll or are you LYMONDS.


@MotherJones @swanson01john --Oh well you work for new times and that dumb ass lemons.It just figures you live in MEXICO too.Oh ware is handy Randy,and the queen wilcox at?You dumb CRAP.


@Steve70 Only when your mom's finished, if u know what I mean. It helps that she has no teeth. Just like you.


@Steve70--Mother jones works for or is the so called writer Lymons or better Lemmons for new times so you know who ur talking to.He is pretty pathetic is he not.You can find him down at this rags office (huh mother)


@Steve70 Last time u saw a cunt in person was coming out of your mom's vagaygay. Otherwise, it's Five Fingers Freddy for you.

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