Bill Montgomery's Victims Break: 14 Captured in Sportex Raid Plead Out Under Coercion
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery must feel really proud of himself. After more than three months in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's dirty, dangerous and sometimes deadly jails, 14 of the 23 undocumented workers being prosecuted in the MCSO's February 8 raid of Sportex Apparel cut plea deals with the prosecutor.
See also: -DPS Officer's Pursuit of DREAMer Lands Woman in Stir for Six Months (w/Update) -Bill Montgomery: Victimizer of Undocumented Workers, Turns "Victims' Rights" Advocate in DC -Bill Montgomery's Smoking Gun: ICE PowerPoint Shows Monty's Minions How to Deport More Immigrants -Bill Montgomery's Victims Rot in Jail, While Arizona Republic Praises His Hypocrisy on Immigration Reform
Charged with class four felonies involving identity theft and forgery, these parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles pleaded to class six criminal impersonation on April 30. The judge gave them all time served and six months of unsupervised probation.
But this does not guarantee their freedom, as they will now be transferred to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And under the guidelines taught to Montgomery's prosecutors in early January of 2012, deportation is "no problem," for ICE if the subsection of the law is specified.
And in the case of all 14 plea deals, the subsection is specified.
What's particularly disgusting is that Monty's prosecutors could have let these people plead to a misdemeanor, as they recently did in the case of 23 year-old Solaguahire Zenil, who had been arrested by Arizona Department of Public Safety six months prior.
As I pointed out in a blog post last week, Zenil's case was exceptional because, according to her attorney, the MCAO essentially admitted it effed up in Zenil's case, and held this girl nonbondable for half a year, even though the Social Security Number was her own, legally obtained in the early '90s, when just about anyone could obtain one.
Nevertheless, the fact that Zenil's charge went from a class four to a misdemeanor proves conclusively that when Montgomery says he cannot charge undocumented workers with a misdemeanor, he's lying his ass off.
A misdemeanor would likely result in release from ICE custody, and the chance to remain in the United States. It would also make that person eligible to benefit from either Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (depending on his or her age) or from the comprehensive immigration reform legislation recently introduced in the U.S. Senate.
In both cases, a felony conviction is a bar to legal status.
But Monty won't go there, which is particularly infuriating, considering the fact that he continues to ignore any evidence uncovered of culpability on the part of the employers raided by the MCSO.
Why? My theory is that he could not stand the blowback, should he go after employers. Also, the employers have money, with which they can hire high-priced lawyers to fight for them.
The undocumented are poor, they have little money, and unlike the employers, can be denied bond if charged with a class four felony or above. The undocumented are the perfect targets, and a long stay in Joe's gulags, away from their families, and surrounded by menacing guards and real criminals, often coerces them into signing plea agreements that are not in their best interests.
Ultimately, Montgomery is a bully and a coward. He picks on those who often do not have the resources with which to do battle. He makes their children weep for their parents. All while trying to sound as if he's a reasonable Republican who supports immigration reform.
The video above, from the human rights organization Puente, interviews some of the children of those people who recently took Monty's cruel plea deal.
In addition, Puente has posted a petition asking ICE and the federal government to show mercy, as Bill Montgomery seems unable to do.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.