House Dems conspiring to end arrests

House Dems conspiring to end arrests

Jan. 17, 2007 12:00 AM

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas has said that if lawmakers did not intend the human smuggling law to apply to those being smuggled, they should have explicitly said so. Some Democratic House members are trying.

Reps. Kyrsten Sinema, David Lujan and Steve Gallardo, all representatives from Phoenix, are the primary sponsors of HB 2270. The proposal would add a sentence to the state’s human smuggling law that says it does not apply to people being smuggled.

Gallardo said the bill attempts to preserve the law’s original intent. The Republican sponsor of the law, Rep. Jonathan Paton of Tucson, who is serving in Iraq now, has said the measure was meant to go after smugglers, not the smuggled.

Gallardo said he doesn’t believe the bill will get a hearing in the Legislature.

“(Republicans) want to keep the issue quiet,” he said. “We’re going to beat the drums on it.”

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has arrested 382 people under the law. Most of those have been charged with felony conspiracy. Most have taken a plea deal and been deported. Only one has been convicted by a jury and sentenced. He was also released.

The arrests have actually added to the state’s illegal immigration population. Several defendants were released on bond or had their charges dropped and released from the jailhouse and into the community.

Even if Republicans vote down the change, Gallardo said he wants them to publicly state that Thomas is wisely spending tax dollars.

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