PHOENIX - Judges could deny bail
to at least some illegal entrants charged with
other crimes, under a measure approved Thursday
by a House committee.
The measure says a judge can keep
an illegal entrant locked up if there is
evidence the person might flee or poses a danger
to someone else or to the community. The 6-3
vote by the House Judiciary Committee came over
objections from foes who said it is both
discriminatory and unnecessary.
Thursday's action sends the
legislation to the full House and, eventually,
to the Senate.
It is Arizona voters, though, who
will get the last word, as the change requires
an amendment to the state constitution. The
issue would be placed on the 2006 ballot.
Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said
the proposal simply recognizes that anyone who
has crossed the border illegally probably has
few ties to this country. That, he said, makes
them at greater risk of fleeing before trial.
He said his legislation would
deny bail only to illegal entrants accused of
serious offenses - and only if a judge concluded
it was necessary.
But Rep. Ben Miranda, D-Phoenix,
said judges already can deny bail - or at least
impose sufficiently high bond - on someone
considered a flight risk.
Pearce, however, said his
legislation would give judges much clearer
Rep. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix,
said if a tougher standard on bail is needed,
then it should apply to everyone, not just those
here illegally. He attempted to amend the
legislation to give judges broader authority to
deny bail to anyone.
But Rep. Ray Barnes, R-Phoenix,
said the fact that someone crossed into this
country illegally shows they have a criminal
history and should be treated differently.
The moves came as supporters of
Proposition 200 asked a judge Thursday to rule
that Attorney General Terry Goddard is incorrect
in his opinion that the initiative barring
public benefits to illegal entrants has only
In a Mesa courtroom, attorney
David Abney said Goddard abused his discretion
in concluding that the voter-approved measure
does not require proof of legal residency for
most welfare programs. Abney, who represents
Randy Pullen and other initiative backers, told
Judge Barbara Jarrett of Maricopa County
Superior Court that it is her responsibility to
correct Goddard's actions, as state agencies are
acting on that advice.
But Assistant Attorney General
Susan Segal told Jarrett she should throw the
case out. Segal said there is no evidence that
any state agency or employee has violated the
provisions of Proposition 200 based on Goddard's
Jarrett did not indicate when she
● Tracy Sawyer of Tribune
Newspapers contributed to this report.