Kudos to Carlos Garcia and his fellow activists at Puente for again confronting Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery on his policy of overcharging undocumented workers so as to make them ineligible for bail, coercing a guilty plea that will likely make them deportable.
See also: -Bill Montgomery's Victims Break: 14 Captured in Sportex Raid Plead Out Under Coercion -DPS Officer's Pursuit of DREAMer Lands Woman in Stir for Six Months (w/Update) -Bill Montgomery's Victims Plead Not Guilty En Masse as Their Children Weep -Bill Montgomery's Smoking Gun: ICE PowerPoint Shows Monty's Minions How to Deport More Immigrants
Garcia tells me that Monty was in Maryvale on Thursday night, along with Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia and Phoenix City Councilman Danny Valenzuela, for a community forum. Essentially, Puente took over, and put Monty on blast for his apartheid-like practices.
In his address to Montgomery seen in the video above, Garcia asks him about the 23 mothers, fathers, grandfathers, aunts and uncles arrested February 8, in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's raid on Sportex Apparel in Tempe.
These ordinary workers were charged with class four felonies for forgery and identity theft, and held without bail. Their undocumented status and the type of felonies they were charged with made them ineligible for bond under Arizona law.
After three months of enduring regular strip-searches, violent conditions, abusive detention officers, and inedible rations, fourteen of the accused signed agreements with the MCAO this week, pleading guilty to class six felony impersonation, a plea that will likely make them removable by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"Fourteen of the people who took the plea are on their way to ICE and will probably never see their [families] again," Garcia harangues Monty, as the latter takes it, his face turning beet red as he's dressed down.
"You're going out of your way to make sure these people can't even plead their immigration case," Garcia correctly states. "They're not eligible to get an immigration bond because of the charges that you're giving them."
Indeed, in early 2012, ICE attorneys came to Phoenix to instruct Montgomery's prosecutors on how to charge the undocumented so as to ensure their removal from the country. Previously, I've posted a copy of the ICE PowerPoint, which essentially acts as a cheat sheet for deputy county attorneys.
Additionally, Garcia points to the 22-page letter sent to Monty by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011, detailing the DOJ's findings that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has shown "a pattern and practice of unconstitutional policing," which includes racial profiling, retaliating against critics, and discriminatory practices in Joe's jails.
"The sheriff and these raids are not OK," Garcia tells Montgomery. "They have been condemned by the Department of Justice, they've been condemned by everyone."
Monty later replies that he lacks evidence to act on the DOJ letter, claiming the feds have told him to get further evidence from discovery, as the DOJ is suing the county and Arpaio in federal court.
I would tell Monty that if he requires more evidence at this late date, all he has to do is fire up his PACER account (the online service that allows you to view federal court docs) and download any of the numerous exhibits and depositions offered in the ACLU's racial profiling case Melendres v. Arpaio.
Plus, there is more than enough proof, even in the MCSO's own press releases, that Arpaio's raids are motivated by racial and ethnic animus, thus tainting the prosecutions of those collared in those raids.
At one point, Garcia mentions the case of Sol Zenil, a 23 year-old undocumented woman who spent six months in jail nonbondable on bogus charges, which Monty's officewas forced to drop to a misdemeanor, after it was discovered she had been using her own lawfully obtained Social Security Number to work.
As Garcia observes, the Zenil case demonstrates that Monty has prosecutorial discretion to reduce all of these unjust felony charges against the undocumented to misdemeanors, not just when the MCAO screws up a case.
My favorite exchange in the video occurs when Garcia states that Montgomery obviously has aspirations to statewide office. Then Monty insists that he is not running for governor.
"That's good to know," Garcia responds, "because I don't think anybody in our community would even think about voting for you right now."
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Montgomery never recovers from this tongue-lashing. Scarlet-faced, he attempts to defend himself, making an unusual autobiographical claim, which I've never heard before.
"I know exactly what it looks like when your parent goes away and you don't see them," Montgomery tells the audience. "My father spent time in prison. I know exactly what it looks like. I know exactly what it is to fear what's going to happen, where's food going to be at that night, when are they going to come back? I know. Do not try to tell me I'm acting in ignorance on that point."
I've heard Monty sing the blues about his supposedly impoverished upbringing in California, but this is the first time I've heard him drop that his pop was in prison. What for, I wonder?
If this sob story is true, he has even less reason for treating the undocumented as he does. Because I'm guessing Monty's dad did something a lot worse to land in the Big House than working at a restaurant or garment factory.