US Citizen Held in Jail for 4½ Months Because Arizona Authorities Thought She Was Illegal
Read the whole Byzantine account here. It starts with a definition of ‘nativism’ for the ‘knuckle-draggers’ who leave messages on author Stephen Lemons’s voicemail, then describes how nativist Arizona voters denied bail to certain suspects who should have had that option.
In 2006, Prop 100 received a 3-to-1 endorsement by the electorate. Never mind that bail for all but the most serious crimes is a cherished privilege protected by parts of the Arizona and U.S. constitutions.
Nearly 78 percent of Arizona voters decided to junk this legacy and deny bail based on suspicion of undocumented status. That means someone accused of forgery is treated the same way, bail-wise, as Colorado mass murder suspect James Holmes.
Recently, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office alleged Briseira Torres, a shy, 31-year-old single mom from Glendale, was here illegally and that Briseira Torres was not her real name.
She was accused of three counts of forgery, in part because her driver’s license had her real name on it, which the MCAO thought was bogus. Following her arrest, she was held without bond in Estrella Jail for 4 1/2 months.
Torres lost her home and car because she couldn’t make the payments as she endured Estrella’s harsh conditions, lousy food, and detention officers.
Worst of all, she was separated from her 14-year-old daughter, who stayed with Torres’ friend Amy Diaz while her mom was behind bars.
In the pile of paperwork they [the lawyers for the defense] provided to the court, to the prosecutor, and to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was a silver bullet: a sworn statement from Arizona’s Office of Vital Records attesting to the legitimacy of documents on file for Torres.
Among these docs is Torres’ birth certificate, showing she was born August 14, 1981, in Avondale [Arizona].
Salvatierra asked the court to remand the case back to the grand jury.
Judge Carolyn Passamonte did just this, noting in her minute entry that Torres’ long-form birth certificate was “clearly exculpatory evidence that should have been presented to the grand jury.”
The judge remarked that the documents on file with Vital Records had been “available to the state,” and in oral arguments, the prosecutor had to admit that he’d never bothered to pull the file and inspect it.
Four and a half months is a long, long time to spend in jail for being Hispanic in Arpaio’s county. A lawsuit may be coming. Prop. 100 should be thrown out on the basis of this case alone.
I filed this under Immigration because it deals with an anti-immigrant law, but it should be clear that US citizens suffer from this nativist bigotry.