Friday, September 11, 2009

MCSO Seeking Loopholes in Immigration Enforcement: Unpaid Traffic Tickets

MCSO is being sneaky again. They're going after people why have unpaid traffic tickets and fines for not having drivers licenses. Of course a good portion of those who don't have licenses are most likely undocumented immigrants. And a lot of folks who are too afraid to show up for court or interact further with police after a stop are likely to be at risk for deportation as well.

What's messed up about this is that my friend who drove us to one of the big immigrants' rights marches a few years back got a ticket on his car when we got back to it. We were completely legally parked. We took pictures of the car and the signs and everything. I had a feeling that a lot of the cars in the area got ticketed even if they were legally parked. Then the undocumented migrants will either have to go to court and prove their innocence and then risk being found out as undocumented, or they will have to avoid the whole thing and have an unpaid ticket on their record.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio may have a way to bypass possible changes in federal immigration law by arresting illegal immigrants on outstanding charges such as unpaid traffic tickets and fines for not having drivers licenses, according to immigration attorneys and Hispanic activists who monitor the agency’s activities.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Web site lists 30 individuals arrested over the past three days for not paying fines, another 24 had charges that included missing court dates. The information, however, did not specify whether the individuals were undocumented.

The failure to pay fine charge means the MCSO and other police agencies can arrest illegal immigrants without getting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement approval at the time of the arrest. Immigration charges can be added after defendants are booked, said sources, some of whom asked not to be identified.

“If there is an outstanding warrant for failure to pay fines, then MCSO can pick up the person on the warrant itself, regardless of their immigration status and not have to get into that with the person or call ICE — because it will be addressed when the person gets booked in jail,” said Margarita Silva, a Phoenix attorney with the law office of Navidad, Leal & Silva. More...

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