Bill Montgomery: Victimizer of Undocumented Workers, Turns "Victims' Rights" Advocate in DC
It's a requirement in Arizona, more than in any other state in the Union, that politicians be shameless hypocrites. And Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery is no piker in this regard.
See also: -DPS Officer's Pursuit of DREAMer Lands Woman in Stir for Six Months -Bill Montgomery's Deaf Victim Diana Blanco Honored by Las Cafeteras -Bill Montgomery's Victims Rot in Jail, While Arizona Republic Praises His Hypocrisy on Immigration Reform -Bill Montgomery's Victims Plead Not Guilty En Masse as Their Children Weep
Thursday, Monty appeared before a U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee chaired by Representative Trent Franks to offer his opinion on the proposed Victims Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Watch a clip of Monty at Thursday's hearing. The amendment would offer crime victims many of the same rights the Arizona Constitution provides, including the right to attend all court hearings, the right to restitution, and so on.
The merits of such an amendment are debatable, as you'll see if you want to sit through all two hours of the hearing.
In Montgomery's highly ironic testimony, Maricopa County's top prosecutor presented himself as a "victims rights" advocate, who has worked as a "victims rights attorney," in addition to his duties as county attorney.
Yep, Monty's all for helping the victims of crime.
Unless they're undocumented.
Ask any immigration attorney in town, and they'll tell you how stingy Montgomery's office is when it comes to certifying requests for U-visas.
U-visas allow victims of certain crimes to remain in the U.S., if they cooperate with the police.
ICE makes the final decision, but an applicant must have a form signed by a prosecutor or some other law enforcement agency, certifying that the victim was of assistance to law enforcement.
When I asked the county attorney's office in January about the U-visa issue, MCAO spokesman Jerry Cobb told me that between January 2009 and May 2012, the MCAO had "received 83 U-visa requests certified 6 and declined to certify 19."
Cobb said that, "The rest were either approved by another agency (applicants typically apply to multiple law enforcement agencies), or were not associated with active cases, or were pending review."
Still, for that time period, Montgomery's approval rate for U-visas was around seven percent. Which may explain why some lawyers don't even bother seeking certification from the MCAO, and instead go to other agencies.
In addition to his miserly U-visa policy, Montgomery has a long line of his own victims, undocumented workers he's held nonbondable in sheriff Joe Arpaio's jails, sometimes for months on end, in order to coerce them into pleading guilty to felonies that will make them deportable.
They are grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. Rather than prosecute their employers, Montgomery goes after the low-hanging fruit, the workers, even when there is evidence that the companies they work for are complicit.
These persons are held without bond under a 2006 amendment to the Arizona Constitution denying bail to those presumed to be undocumented when the proof is evident or the presumption great that a class four felony or above has been committed.
Montgomery could choose to charge these workers with a lesser felony, which would make them bailable, or even a misdemeanor, as was recently done in the case of 23 year-old Solaguahire Zenil, who was being prosecuted by the MCAO for felony forgery, and spent six months in jail.
On the day her trial was to begin, the prosecution revealed that the Social Security Number Zenil had been using was her own and had been legally obtained. This, according to her immigration attorney Jose Penalosa.
And yet, Montgomery has the temerity to call himself an advocate for victims rights.
Carlos Garcia of the local human rights organization Puente was outraged by Montgomery's remarks. His group has protested Montgomery and helped the children, spouses and other family members left without their loved ones because of the MCAO's inhumane and unjust policy of forcing the undocumented to plead to the lead..
"Bill Montgomery's disgraceful, discriminatory practice of law creates victims," Garcia said in a statement released after the county attorney's testimony. "He doesn't defend victim's rights. He violates them."
Garcia continued, holding Montgomery accountable for not walking the talk.
"Montgomery is no different than Arpaio," Garcia stated. "He can't be considered an advocate for immigration reform while he criminalizes immigrants and locks up Dreamers. He can't speak for victims rights while violating the rights of victims of raids in his own jurisdiction.
"In order for Bill Montgomery's testimony to have any weight today he needs to drop the charges against victims of Arpaio's profiling and refuse to continue to feed people who could be citizens tomorrow into the deportation machine of Maricopa County today."
I completely agree. Montgomery cannot continue to give lip service to comprehensive immigration reform while persecuting the very people who would benefit from that reform.
Or, that is, he can continue to do so, but then no one should take him seriously when he shows up to immigration forums and preens for the cameras, offering himself as a conservative, law-and-order Republican, who also backs CIR.
Sadly, Montgomery knows all too well V.I. Lenin's dictum that, "A lie told often enough becomes the truth."
Which is how he's able to con some in the pro-immigrant crowd, while continuing the anti-immigrant practices designed by his predecessor, disgraced, disbarred ex-County Attorney Andrew Thomas.
In his address to congress on victim's rights, Montgomery adopted a finger-wagging, moralistic tone, admonishing all those who did not support the proposed amendment.
"It's a good thing they were not in the first Congress that provided us with a Bill of Rights," Montgomery intoned. "It is good they were not at the 38th Congress that ended slavery.
"Or in the 39th Congress that asserted rights to equal protection and due process. It is good that they were not in the 66th Congress that extended the right to vote to women, and it was good they were not in the 87th Congress that ended the poll tax.
"You see, through the long course of our history, great injustices in America have ended in Constitutional justice."
Hopefully, the same arc of history will one day apply to the injustice Montgomery manufactures here in Sand Land.
Because as things currently stand, that ain't the case.
(Note: Montgomery's prepared statement to the subcommittee is online at judiciary.house.gov, but his remarks Thursday morning diverged from his written statement.)
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.