Feathered Bastard

Bill Montgomery Skewered in Puente March, SANE Defends Monty

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery took it on the chin Monday, as about 120 demonstrators protesting Monty's discriminatory policies toward undocumented workers marched more than 3.5 miles from Steele Indian School Park to Montgomery's offices in the county administration building in downtown Phoenix.

See also: -Bill Montgomery Blasted By Hispanic Bar Association over Apartheid Policies -The MCAO Follows ICE's Blueprint for Separating Immigrant Families -Bill Montgomery's Victims Plead Not Guilty En Masse as Their Children Weep

Organized by the local human rights group Puente, protesters carried signs calling for an end to Sheriff Joe Arpaio's immigrant-hunting raids on employers, and demanding that the Obama administration stop all deportations, pending the passage of comprehensive immigration reform.

Read the Real Arizona Coalition's defense of County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

They also carried signs comparing to apartheid the county attorney's practice of charging undocumented workers so as to hold them nonbondable, thereby almost guaranteeing their eventual deportations upon conviction.

Pro-immigration activists incorporated Monty and his sinister policies into their chants, with, "Arrest Montgomery, not the people," and "Stop the raids, drop the charges."

After they reached the county building, two activists unfurled a banner that read "Montgomery is racist," from a parking structure directly across the street.

Montgomery's defenders, the counter-protesters, were the sort who normally defend Arpaio: Grizzled motorcycle-huggers from Riders USA, screamin' Teabagger Art "El Tudy" Olivas with bullhorn in tow, alleged lesbian-transsexual-nativist Lynne Stevens, plus a few other oddballs wearing NRA caps and bearing signs that read "Remember 1986."

You know, as in the Reagan amnesty.

The Teabaggers were on the steps of the little plaza leading to the doors of 301 West Jefferson as the marchers approached from the east. They were soon overwhelmed by the pro-immigration folks, though many of the T-bone-granddaddys held their ground, including Olivas, who screamed non-stop and incoherently into his beloved bullhorn.

Interestingly, despite usually wearing a sweatshirt that identifies him as representing "Latino Legal Immigrant Tea Party Patriots," Olivas claims to be a mixture of Native American, Italian and German. I asked him why he used the term Latino to describe his group.

"The reason it is `Latino' [is] because that's what the white people classify us as," he said. "When they see us, they say, `Latino, Hispanics,' and all that bullshit."

Well, that clears that up. I also asked him what he thought of Arpaio's recent slip and fall. Olivas shrugged it off.

"He'll be doing his goddamn job from a goddamn hole in the ground or wherever," Olivas replied.

I wondered about Joe's "broken arm," saying it must be worse than that, maybe a broken rib or a stroke, if it's taking him this long to recover.

"I have no idea," he said. "Just because he talks to me doesn't mean I'm going to go kiss his ass."

Interesting. And what did Olivas think of Monty?

"He's just doing his job," Olivas explained. "He's doing what we pay him for."

Later, the ornery Olivas met his match when a young, tattooed, pro-immigrant guy went toe-to-toe with him, holding a bigger bullhorn into Olivas' face. It was hot bullhorn-on-bullhorn action, with insults and vulgarities flying, till Olivas eventually packed it in, realizing he was out-bullhorned.

Weirdly, it's not just the yahoos who are defending Monty. The Real Arizona Coalition, which is behind the so-called SANE immigration proposal, is also defending Montgomery, who, in turn, is for the SANE approach to the immigration issue.

Last week, I asked RAC for a statement on whether or not its members had challenged Monty on his unusually cruel policies toward the undocumented.

Today, they got back to me with a response, which reads in part:

"Mr. Montgomery's conservative views offer insight and ideas from a critically important constituency, no matter if some members of the RAC disagree with those viewpoints. To his credit, Mr. Montgomery was the only Arizona Republican law enforcement official willing to sit down and help the RAC craft its immigration reform proposal. In addition, he has spoken at and participated in three of our immigration solutions conferences.

"While SANE is a product of the collective efforts of the many dozens of people who have been involved in its creation, it is worth noting that Mr. Montgomery wrote the section that excludes individual ID theft convictions from the list of felonies that would warrant deportation. His openness to alternatives and willingness to be in the room have demonstrated that he understands the importance of adding a level of fairness and practicality to federal reforms."

Apparently, the irony of Monty supposedly writing a future exception for those he is now needlessly over-charging, denying them the kind of plea offers similarly-situated defendants receive from the MCAO, escapes the SANE backers.

But it did not escape Carlos Garcia, Puente's chief organizer.

"It just shows that they continue to stand by him," Garcia said. "There's no difference between standing by Montgomery and standing by Arpaio. If the Real Arizona Coalition continues to work with Montgomery, they've lost credibility in matters of immigration reform.

"What Montgomery is doing is directly contradicting anything reform will do. How are you going to try to pass some sort of immigration reform...when you're dealing with the only jurisdiction in the country that's doing these kinds of raids?"

Indeed, RAC's contention in its letter that there is "no litmus test for entry into the Real Arizona Coalition," begs the question: If Arpaio were to sign on to the SANE immigration reform proposal, while promising to continue his family-separating raids on employers, would the sheriff be welcomed with open arms?

Reminds me of that old quip, supposedly sent via telegram to the Friars Club from Groucho Marx to the effect that, "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."

Save that I would replace "me" with "Arpaio," "Andy Thomas," "Russell Pearce," "Jan Brewer," and now, "Bill Montgomery."

Others apparently feel the same way. I noticed that Lydia Guzman's organization Respect/Respeto was no longer listed among those supporting SANE.

So I called Guzman, who was part of the press conference that originally took Monty to task on this subject. She explained that she asked to have Respect/Respeto removed from RAC's website because of Montgomery's policies toward the undocumented.

As of now, Montgomery remains intransigent on the issue. In a statement to KPHO, Monty stated that he continues to "support reasonable and necessary federal immigration reforms."

Nevertheless, he will maintain his apartheid policy of charging undocumented workers far more harshly than underage college kids trying to buy booze. (Note: the latter are never hit with felonies, and that's Monty's call, ultimately.)

"My Office will continue to make charging decisions based on an individual's conduct -- not his or her race, ethnicity or residency status," Montgomery said in the release. "We do not initiate prosecutions to achieve a particular immigration outcome, nor do we control the federal consequences of state-level convictions. I reject any call to treat one particular group more or less harshly than any other, or to mix politics with criminal justice."

These assertions are bald-faced falsehoods, as revealed in a PowerPoint presentation, which was used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement lawyers to instruct Monty's prosecutors on how to ensure deportation for state convictions.

This is where the rubber meets the road. The RAC folks mean well, and maybe they think they need Monty to be their token Teabagger, but this is not just a disagreement.

Montgomery is treating undocumented workers differently, and he is doing so to hold them sans bond and coerce guilty pleas that will make them removable from the country.

These are not words, beliefs, or thoughts. These are deeds. Montgomery's deeds. Actions that break up families, keep parents from children and make those children weep. There is no excuse for it. Nor is there excuse for collaborating with the man who makes it happen.

Unless, perhaps, he has a come-to-Jesus moment, and changes course.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons