The Maricopa County Attorney's Office and Arizona-based attorneys for United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement are engaged in a partnership to ensure the deportation of undocumented aliens who otherwise would benefit from President Obama's proposed comprehensive immigration reform, despite statements from both agencies to the contrary.
As I documented in my recent cover story on County Attorney Bill Montgomery's policy toward prosecuting undocumented immigrants, Montgomery maintains that his office is not concerned with the immigration consequences of the convictions his office obtains against illegal aliens.
During a recent interview with Montgomery for that article, Montgomery insisted that his office does not charge individuals based on their immigration status, contending that he is unconcerned with how such charges may impact an alien defendant's case before an immigration judge, once they are turned over to ICE.
"What the federal government decides is up to the federal government," Montgomery said. "If they changed tomorrow and say these offenses are not deportable, I'm not going to chase the federal policy and find out what would be deportable. It's up to them."
Montgomery claimed that he had never met with ICE representatives to be advised on this topic. But after that interview, ICE acknowledged that it had made a presentation to MCAO attorneys on the immigration consequences of certain convictions, and the MCAO admitted that such a presentation had taken place.
As a result of a public records request to the MCAO, I obtained the PowerPoint presentation given on Friday, January 6, 2012 by ICE attorneys to as many as 80 MCAO attorneys. The one-hour "brown bag" lunch forum was billed as a way for staff lawyers to help meet Arizona Bar requirements for continuing education.
Email correspondence between ICE and MCAO indicate that the lecture was arranged and likely given by Dominique Honea, assistant chief counsel at the ICE Office of Chief Counsel in Arizona. Honea, who works at ICE's Eloy Detention Center, may have been joined by two other attorneys, senior attorney Jennifer Wiles and assistant chief counsel Christopher Kelly.
Titled, "Immigration Consequences of Common Arizona Convictions," the PowerPoint essentially is a guidebook for prosecutors, showing them how to charge a defendant on a variety of offenses so as to ensure the accused's deportation after he or she is turned over to ICE.