Court throws out Arizona’s anti-immigrant law

US flagAn Arizona law enacted in 2006 that denied bail to undocumented immigrants charged with serious crimes has been thrown out by a federal appeals panel. The 2006 ballot measure known as Proposition 100 was approved by almost 80% of voters in the state; however, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday declared that it violated the 14th Amendment’s due process clause.

A class action legal challenge against the law has been underway since 2008, when two undocumented immigrants denied bail over drug and assault charges by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office filed suit, with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Arizona chapter representing the immigrants in court. Last year the law was upheld by a divided 9th Circuit panel; however, a majority of the active judges moved to have the case heard again.

This time around the majority declared that the law was unconstitutional, applied to too broad a spectrum of crimes, and failed to deal with what has become an acute problem in the state. Proposition 100 was designed to target undocumented immigrants charged with serious crimes; however, it was sometimes used for individuals facing considerably less serious charges. The American Civil Liberties Union refuted arguments by law enforcement leaders that undocumented immigrants were a flight risk.

The decision has been lauded by immigrants rights group Puente. “We applaud the 9th Circuit’s decision and demand full compliance immediately, beginning with the release of all those currently detained as a result of Proposition 100,” says Carlos Garcia, Puente’s executive director.