It took nine months of incarceration in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's notorious Estrella Jail, but what should have happened in August of last year, happened just recently in the case of Luz Ruiz Rascon, mother of two U.S.-citizen children, one of whom suffers from leukemia.

You may recall from my February 7 cover story, "Bill Montgomery Is No Immigration Moderate," that Rascon, 38, was arrested in an Arpaio raid on a GNC warehouse in Phoenix and charged with six class-four felonies involving identity theft and forgery.

Rascon had used a non-existent Social Security number to score work at GNC, though she didn't adopt a false identity. Moreover, for all 11 years that she'd worked at GNC, she filed tax returns using a taxpayer-identification number.

She has no prior criminal history and never had been in jail before.

But because she is undocumented and because the Maricopa County Attorney's Office intentionally overcharged her, she was held non-bondable under the dictates of Proposition 100, an amendment to the Arizona Constitution passed by voters in 2006.

On Monday May 20, after 284 days in custody, Rascon pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of possession of a forgery device in a deal with the MCAO.

The felony counts against her were dropped.

The "forgery device" in question? A pen. You know, the one she used to write the made-up Social Security number.

Before sentencing, Judge Peter Reinstein asked Rascon if she wished to address the court. She said yes, and spoke briefly.

"I would like to apologize for the harm I could have caused," Rascon explained in Spanish, via a court interpreter. "It was never my intent to hurt anybody by working."

She went on to thank the judge and the MCAO for offering the plea deal.

Judge Reinstein gave her a suspended sentence and six months unsupervised probation. She had served more than three times the usual 90 days someone with a class-four felony conviction receives in such cases.

"I don't think you hurt anyone by your actions," Reinstein told Rascon. "I'm glad the state saw fit to offer you this plea agreement. I think it's appropriate."

Afterward, a pink-handcuffed Rascon hugged Delia Salvatierra, one of the three attorneys involved with the case. (Salvatierra's co-counsel is Johnny Sinodis, and their partner in defending the undocumented is Dori Zavala.)

By the time this column went to press, Rascon had yet to be transferred to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Once that happens, it's anticipated that ICE will release her.

Outside court, Salvatierra was pleased that her client soon would be free, but she lamented the obvious.

"I can't even say justice prevailed today," Salvatierra said. "Because she's been detained for nine months. That's a hard sentence for a woman for pre-conviction incarceration, when she didn't harm anybody."

Salvatierra praised her client's heroism in not surrendering. Initially, prosecutors wanted Rascon to plead to the lead. She refused.

If she'd copped to a felony, she would've gotten out of county sooner, but she would have faced deportation, a 10-year bar to legal re-entry and indefinite separation from her kids.

And under the current language of the Gang of Eight's immigration-reform bill, she wouldn't have been eligible for a probationary legal status, like the 11 million or 12 million other mothers, fathers, grandparents, and children who stand to benefit.

County Attorney Bill Montgomery is, in word if not in deed, an advocate of comprehensive immigration reform. He even backs a proposal that would carve out an exception in any immigration overhaul for undocumented people convicted of felonies related to identity theft and forgery.

Nevertheless, his office pursues a hard-line policy toward the undocumented, overcharging them, so as to hold them non-bondable in Arpaio's inhumane gulags, thereby coercing them into pleading to a felony that ultimately will cause their removal from the country.

Montgomery denies this, of course. But an ICE PowerPoint I got hold of earlier this year gives the lie to that denial. In it, ICE shows how to charge the undocumented to make certain their deportation. It was part of an ICE seminar for Montgomery's prosecutors at the beginning of 2012.

When I interviewed Montgomery for the cover story, he defended his prosecution of Rascon, claiming he had no choice but to charge the undocumented in the manner he does.

The fact that there was no victim in the Rascon case? Didn't matter, according to Monty.

He claimed the fake Social Security number Rascon used to work at GNC possibly could be assigned down the road to someone, and that person would be Rascon's victim.

Which is ridiculous, but the question remains, what has happened since that January interview to cause this minor dent in Montgomery's inflexible charging policy?

Sure, Salvatierra submitted what's called a deviation request in Rascon's case recently, and the plea deal was a consequence of that letter asking the prosecutor to deviate from the initial charges.

But Salvatierra had submitted a similar deviation request in February, so what gives?

A couple of things. First, since lawyers such as Salvatierra now are taking on these cases, Montgomery's prosecutors have had to start going to trial, rather than counting on the defendant to cave. This means Monty's office has begun to lose.

I've written about some of these cases. One of Rascon's fellow workers at GNC, Rafael Lavallade Gonzalez, a 70-year-old diabetic was found not guilty after a seven-day trial on felony forgery and identity-theft charges. He had spent six months in jail.

In April, Miguel Angel Morales, a worker caught up in Arpaio's raid on United Construction in Glendale, was found not guilty of similar allegations in a five-day trial. He, too, had done six months on charges that usually pull a 90-day sentence.

Also in April, Sol Zenil, received the same deal as Rascon following six months in jail, after arrest by the Arizona Department of Public Safety for working illegally at a retail store.

Zenil, 23, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor, but that was just to gain her freedom. The offer was made after the prosecutor admitted to Zenil's attorney that the Social Security number in question was legit, obtained when Zenil was much younger, and when the rules involved were much looser.

But most of the people charged with a class-four simply plead out to a felony to escape lockup in Arpaio's hoosegow.

Recently, 14 of the 23 individuals rounded up in the February raid on Sportex Apparel pleaded guilty to class-six felonies, though they weren't the sort of class-six charges that give an immigration attorney a solid chance at blocking deportation.

My colleagues in the press have been scrutinizing Monty on this issue. And some of the Hispanic organizations that Montgomery had been flirting with now want nothing to do with him.

He was denounced by the Hispanic Bar Association Los Abogados, and the civil rights group Puente demonstrated on the doorsteps of the county building where the MCAO has its offices. Children crying for their jailed mothers and grandmothers often participate.

Until Montgomery changes his policy across the board and deals with each of these cases according to its merits — handing out misdemeanors more often than not — then this issue will remain a problem for him.

I think Montgomery wants it to end. In some ways, he's a prisoner of his own right-wing rhetoric.

But if he takes out his telescope and gives the horizon a look-see, he'll glimpse a future without Arpaio, with immigration reform, and with Hispanics on the rise. That's where Monty wants to go, as long as the weight of his own actions doesn't keep him mired in the recent past.

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119 comments
mluzd5
mluzd5

"I would like to apologize for the harm I could have caused," Rascon explained in Spanish, via a court interpreter. "It was never my intent to hurt anybody by working."

Why should a person apologize to work? Thousands , millions of U.S citizens who are legal to work in the U.S but won't should be the ones to apologize for not working!!!! not the  hard working people who really want to work!!!!!!!!!!!!

burruels
burruels

Which is ridiculous.....Big old giant dangling participle? When would you ever start a sentence that way? It's a continuation of the last sentence. Where did you learn to compose a sentence?

I can't get over the lack of proper grammer in these web posts. In San Diego growing up the newspaper had a contest to see if anyone could find the typos and bad grammer. I guess the editors or proof readers are as ignorant as the writers.

Just sayong....

john0430
john0430

the I9 form is also writen in spanish

DrHineyBottom
DrHineyBottom

"Rascon had used a non-existent Social Security number to score work at GNC, though she didn't adopt a false identity."

That IS a false identity!!!

DrHineyBottom
DrHineyBottom

Rascon had used a non-existent Social Security number to score work at GNC, though she didn't adopt a false identity.

THAT *IS* A FALSE IDENTITY!!

john0430
john0430

Anyone who thinks the gang of 8 immigration bill  has a chance of  passing ,fine believe what you want.Rascon is 1 lucky mexican and for everyone like her thousand's of other's are being deported daily.Mexican's know how to game the system now, but its my guess by this time next year laws will be much harsher towards them .

mrs.lukebryan
mrs.lukebryan

Well I'm glad she's out when they should have had a heart(legal system) knowing her daughter is battling cancer and at least she was working for a number of years so she wasn't mooching off the government and most of the people's identity they use are aware of it they get payed $

john0430
john0430

Senator McCain seems to think the mexican who killed officer Raetz last week was one of the 2256  captured illegals who Napolitano set loose during April. The good news is the mexican was captured last sunday .

louiszwu
louiszwu

The great majority of anti-immigrant rhetoric I hear contains all the character of a rat on a sinking ship. Mexicans aren't going anywhere. Any more than the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, or anyone else who got here any way they could, and was treated like shit for daring to take their freedom. People will always find a way.

john0430
john0430

When did the illegal mexican become a victim in the United States? maybe when the smuggled themselfs in or when they got captured.

mariospants
mariospants

This is not just a "Mexican thing" let me assure you. I'm a white Canadian and when I visit the states on holiday or business, I am often given the 10th degree at the Vermont border. I'm caucasian with a wife who's so caucasian she's clear, yet until we had children and brought them along with us, we got regularly interrogated - not due to any concern about terrorism - but due to the fear that we might be taking a job or trying to sneak into the country to work. Once, while driving to Florida with just me, her, our dog, and luggage for a 1 week vacation, it took 20 minutes' worth of grilling with the agent re-asking me the same questions over and over, CONVINCED that I was coming to the country to work illegally. Dude, I have a documented HISTORY of visiting the states and returning when I said I would for over 25 years, what gives?

I've worked under TN-1 and H1-B permits in the states, and I would - even as a white Canadian - NEVER risk staying beyond the discretion of the visa or agreement given at the border. For someone to come to the U.S. undocumented, use a fake SSN, raise kids, etc. is... opportunistic if you're nuts, completely illegal, dangerous, and stupid if you're an honest person.

While I respect that Mexico has more than its fair share of poverty and crime, and I honestly believe that Mexicans can be among the hardest-working people on earth, it's f*cked up that an undocumented Mexican expects a bye while Canadians (for example) would get arrested, unceremoniously deported and banned from the country for the same activity (nobody writes articles and lobbies senators on THEIR behalf).

If you're an illegal immigrant, you're living on the edge; having kids and getting comfortable should not be an option. No foreign person has a right to live and work in America.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it's a fact. Expecting the Feds to feel sorry for someone after they've settled down illegally is like saying "f*ck your rules, f*ck your border". There ARE legal ways to live and work in the U.S., you know.

john0430
john0430

The mexican went to jail for 8 months because she was working unauthorized,  using a made up S.S.N. along with frauduently filling out an employment application. I wonder what the judgement would be for a typical american citizen who committs the same type of fraud who has a simular circumstance (needs money)and has a adult child that is sick.

August64month
August64month

Once a criminal always a criminal  Using a nonexistent SS # is a crime.  Read the law Lemons.  Too bad, too sad.

IdontRecall
IdontRecall

@DrHineyBottom, U R A MORON, U need to learn what IDENTITY means, and what a NON-EXISTENT SS means. That'll be UR homework. NOW GO ALONG CHILD.

IdontRecall
IdontRecall

@DrHineyBottom, U R A MORON, learn what IDENTITY means , and what a NON-EXISTENT  SS means. That'll be UR homework. NOW GO ALONG CHILD.

IdontRecall
IdontRecall

@john0430, keep on ranting if that makes U happy. If it weren't 4 those MEXICANS UR POS mom wouldn't be getting Her SS checks or U wouldn't be collecting UI checks either while sitting at UR pigsty and posting UR nonsense. STFU DILDO.

john0430
john0430

@Truthseekeraz you need to get a grip, why not put the bottle down and go to a meeting most catholic churchs hold them at 7pm nightly.

HUCCAU
HUCCAU

You mean Free dumb, not freedom.  You are just a slave to the masters and their corps quit pretending

IdontRecall
IdontRecall

@mariospants.Hey DUDE, U almost brought to tears, what kind of bullshit U R trying to pull DUDE? U could've saved all that disk space and just say: I'AM WHITE and I think that "No foreign person has a right to live and work in America". DUDE U R IGNORANT!!!  DUDE U R  a fucking FOREIGNER also. 4 UR INFO, this Country is what it is because all those FOREIGNERS that have contributed for , be it a MEXICAN, CHINESSE, JAPANESE, HINDU, or any FOREIGNER LEGAL OR ILLEGAL 4 that matter. DUDE, U R  A FUCKIN UNDERCOVER RACIST.

MotherJones
MotherJones

@mariospants Go back to backbacon land, asshole, and stay the fuck there. No one asked for your opinion, hockeypuckbrain.

sarum
sarum

@mariospants Thanks.  There are plenty of jobless citizens who would gladly work the job she had.  A time of massive unemployment is not the time to coddle lawbreakers.  Unemployed US citizens did not create the situation in Mexico and they should not have to pay for it.  I did not say "white" citizens or "black" or "brown"  This is not racism or xenophobia.  It is simply that the NWO wishes to kill the original idea of USA and anybody who clings to those concepts needs to be dispensed with.  If you doubt me take a look at how the Gang intends to undercut US University graduates with foreign graduates who can work for less because they don't have student loan debt.

IdontRecall
IdontRecall

@john0430. BINGO, probably that typical american citizen -specially in Arizona-would get a SLAP ON THE WRIST and also problably somebody would wag a finger on His face telling Him: "that's a no-no". Then that typical american citizen would try for a Law suit. TYPICAL.

BTW, U should ask MONTY, nobody better than Him.

MotherJones
MotherJones

@john0430 here's an easy answer: nothing. because all US citizens have a SS#, shithead.

MotherJones
MotherJones

@August64month A crime needs a victim. This one has none. JAywalking is against the law too. Speeding. Spitting on the sidewalk. 

john0430
john0430

@idontrecall the mexican committed fraud. I-9 is a government document the mexican had to fill one out inorder to work for GNC.you should read it ,at the bottom of the form there is a warning to the person who fills it out you might take the time and read it

jbunny
jbunny

@john0430 Most Catholic churches don't promote hate and racism and wishing ill will on entire groups of people. Maybe you need to go to a meeting.

sarum
sarum

@john0430 O, U come from the government school that says passion needs to be medicated?  Intelligence needs to be sabotaged if it can't be controlled?  Another POV needs to be incarcerated or have it's financial feet chopped out from under it?  Drip, drip, drip we sluggishly march towards Brave New World.

john0430
john0430

@truthseekeraz During the 19th century Europians arriving here went thru Ellis Island and they where processed and documented as soon as they got off the boat.They where not smuggling themselfs in by jumping fences or using inner tubes, they did not use anchor babies as human shileds and their children did not get government benifits Its obvious you slept during social studies.

john0430
john0430

@IdontRecall nice rant however there are no positives to ILLEGAL, ILLEGAL ,ILLEGAL,ILLEGALimmigration.Mexican's are not victim's when they thumb their nose's at warning's advising them they will be jailed and deported if found breaking our laws. Mexican's will take the gamble because they have champion's like Mr Lemmons  who can exploit their criminal activity for advertising dollar's and in the process tell their stories.

sarum
sarum

@IdontRecall DUDE, he's saying that even though he sposedly has WHITE PRIVILEGE he would never consider breaking the law and putting those he loves at risk.  What he didn't say is about the double standard - unfair application of law - brown Hispanic illegals from south of the border are allowed liberties and free pass that euro descent immigrants from ANY nation would never be allowed.  I have known "white" illegal immigrants.  They were more alone and had less support than any brown illegals so why don't you quit beating the race drum? U FUCKIN UNDERCOVER RACIST U!

sarum
sarum

@truthseekeraz Sorry but a "white" citizen was just telling me how she and her husband tried to get a loan to start their own business.  They had all perfectly acceptable criteria except banker flat out told them that they were the wrong color to get the loan.  This has been going on 40 years now easy.  Sorry but it is true.  There is lots of racism, race-based disadvantage going on but it is not all in one direction.  Until we can own the truth of what is going on we will be divided and conquered which is exactly where the PTB wish us to remain.  Otherwise I totally agree with you.  Your hulu presentation was showing how CO prisoners get free education that many citizens would be glad to have/acquire those skills but cannot master the price tag.  Often it seems to many that keeping their nose to the grindstone, working hard, being honest - results in nothing but getting kicked to the curb.  No mentor, no career path, no business loan, no opportunity is afforded many who spend decades doing the "right thing."  We need to restore equal opportunity and restore the dream for citizens first.  We still have not even conquered health care or living wage for our own and I think it is irresponsible and immoral to bring foreign born of any persuasion into this mess.  There is always an excuse not to hire a citizen or to hire one over another depending on what government legal criteria is needed for that entity,  department to comply.   Hispanic, African-American,  Native American, Pacific Islander, Asian and so on.   Pretty much anything about you can be used to disqualify you.  If you stayed on one job too long you do not present enough varied experience.  If you had multiple employers trying to broaden your experience (once considered de rigeur to never spend more than 2 years in any position) - well then you are not stable enough for the position you are applying for.  I know plenty of people of all races who crossed the country for a job they were told they had, only to arrive and be told that the job was not theirs.  Unemployed cannot afford attorney but does not qualify for Legal Aid.   Company gets away with turning someone's life inside out with no accountability.  This is our "favorable to business" environment.  Too much craziness going on that needs correction. 

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

As if anyone asked yours either. At least he was respectful in presenting his opinion which is way more than you're demonstrating. But then again, those Canadians are unfailingly polite, aren't they.

MotherJones
MotherJones

@sarum @mariospants "There are plenty of jobless citizens who would gladly work the job she had." Really? Then get down there and get to wor, asshole. And I'll expect top see your mamma pickin lettuce in Yuma this summer.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

He meant an American committed fucking fraud, dickhead. See, we can all swear and call each others names; isn't that awesome. It doesn't advance the dialogue any, but it makes us all way tougher, don't you think..

yourproductsucks
yourproductsucks

@MotherJones There are plenty of victimless crimes.  Driving on a suspended license is one, as is possession of methamphetamines, as is illegal possession of explosives...and the list goes on and on and on...

IdontRecall
IdontRecall

@john0430, the point stands; the issue is weather She used a FALSE IDENTITY, which clearly She didn't, and that is what DrHineyBottom is alleging. Seems that U need to re-read the Judge's ruling. COMPREHENSION IS NOT UR STRONGEST POINT.

sarum
sarum

@john0430 mmmm . . . the feds just concluded finding him guilty of making his own interpretation of law that includes racial profiling.  Fed is law unto themselves and just cause they have the might does not make them right.  We never had a problem with MCSO profiling us - our local city cops did that over and over and over.  Now it only happens when they have a black or brown rookie that they want to chase out - they make him do it.  Just like as seen on TV.  Hands on their hips, don't ask for license and registration, nope - they take the bully stance and ask "IZZAT YER CAR?  

john0430
john0430

@Truthseekeraz Arpaio does not make up his own law's he is paid to enforce law's that our state government voted on and passed.

john0430
john0430

@Truthseekeraz why dont you simply move to a state or country where your warped idology is mainstray there must be some lawless country where your ideal's would be in the majority

IdontRecall
IdontRecall

@john0430, so U mean that all those INVADING.....er....COMMING in the boats are WETBACKS, U know, cooming trhough the big pond they got wet, or what U mean? Of course U have to know also that They are the ones that brought all kinds of unknown deceases that decimated large parts of the population. JohnnieBoi.

sarum
sarum

@john0430 & quarantined until guaranteed disease free.  Antibiotics do not cure everything.  It was also a time of opportunity & growth.  These days opportunity and growth comes at huge cost to the throw-aways being overlooked, marginalized, disinherited from the American Dream that was their birthright.

sarum
sarum

@IdontRecall HUH?  Your ignorance is showing.  Why don't you let your fingers do the walking - google can be your friend.  The term is obviously older than you are.

IdontRecall
IdontRecall

@sarum. sarum...sarum.. UR stupidity betrays U. Perhaps U don't notice but racism is deeply imbeded in UR mind. "UR WHITE PRIVILEGE" makes U think that everybody is somehow BREEDED from WHITE.

BTW. that line is been drawn all along, is just that UR WHITE PRIVILEGE renders U BLIND. SO STFU. 

sarum
sarum

@IdontRecall Well let's just get in our time machine and go back thousands of years why don't we?  Where do you want to draw the line?  To where the first proto-human oozed out of the sludge?  Many look white and are breed of half and more but still pass for white so STFU.  Mexican is a BREED of EURO-Hispanic and NDN.  U can only make that arguments for pure bloods of which there are not too many.  If anything I would argue that the privileged class likes their maids and man servants to look different, talk different and have different culture.  It's much easier for them that way.

IdontRecall
IdontRecall

@sarum...."WHITE PRIVILEGE..." WTF, get off UR cloud. Further more U posted: "...brown Hispanic from south of the border are allowed liberties and free pass that euro descent....." Might be that DEEP DOWN is known that these BROWN HISPACNICS have more right 2 B on this soil than anybody else, since Their Ancestors have been here long B4 those with "WHITE PRIVILEGE".

sarum
sarum

@IdontRecall Really?  I live around a hell of a lot of unemployed people.  But hey, even Haley Barbour says just like you - unfilled jobs - why we must import high tech workers from elsewhere.  Very strange during time of high unemployment, punctuated by highly trained Joe Stack's self-immolation but oh that's right, in this greatest of all nations in human history EVER, anybody who is having a problem must BE the problem and anybody who is passionate about pointing it out also must BE the problem.  Wow, circular thinking that supports the status quo MO.  Way to go. . . . not

Strange how whole towns in Mexico come and take all the jobs in whole towns in the US.  How is it that they are "connected" but US citizens are unemployed by the millions?   Oh I agree there is certainly some bullshit going on but the unemployed millions are not a part of that problem.

IdontRecall
IdontRecall

@sarum. U've repeated so many times the same bullshit that U've ended up believing it. There are plenty of jobs out there for the take, if U don't COMPITE  4 them, how can U get one. I guess U R one of the unemployed ones, since U R always bitching about. Get off UR ass and go out there and COMPITE, or what? R U expecting 4 someone to come to UR door and offer U one. STOP PLAYING THE VICTIM.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@MotherJones I get it now, undocumented aliens are worthy of your respect, but the developmentally disabled are not.  Can't call someone an illegal, but no issues calling someone a "retard."  On behalf of all of us who think that all people are deserving a respect, you're an asshole.

sarum
sarum

@MotherJonesYou really are clueless about poverty.  Sure, EVERY unemployed person has transportation access.  Sure EVERY unemployed person has friends they can stay with till they get that first check.  Sure, EVERY unemployed person has $ for hotel in strange town where they know no-one.  And by the way, have you ever worked alongside illegals?  And for how long?  Have you ever been a man in a woman only job or verse visa?  Have you ever taken a job in a small town where nobody knew you and there aren't enough jobs to go around to begin with?  These situations are not pretty and they CAN be life threatening.  Picking on the disabled again I see.  

 
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