Bill Montgomery's Victims Plead Not Guilty En Masse as Their Children Weep
The injustice of Montgomery's practice, one the county attorney could easily alter by charging these men and women with lesser counts, or not at all (like their employers who escape law enforcement scrutiny, natch) is written all over the faces of these defendants, faces filled with meekness, stoicism, and premature aging, brought on by years if not decades of manual labor.
The women in particular appear haggard and beaten down, with gray or graying hair, robbed of all dignity in shackles and jailhouse stripes. Hard work , poverty and the rigors of child-rearing have added a decade or more to their looks. And all they ask is the freedom to work a few more decades until death.
This assembly-line justice reminds me of the grueling, daily Kafka-esque treatment of the undocumented in Operation Streamline, a similarly ugly legal practice on the federal level, which I have written about at length.
Indeed, Montgomery and the Obama administration have much in common when it comes to immigration. Both publicly support comprehensive immigration reform, while pursuing policies that separate families, and render removable, aliens who for all intents and purposes, are not criminals.
How can the backers of the SANE initiative rationalize their dealings with Montgomery?
For instance, Montgomery, a Republican, has espoused support for the so-called SANE immigration proposal, a watered down version of comprehensive immigration reform that has been endorsed by a panoply of progressive groups locally.
A key component of SANE is allowing the undocumented to apply for "temporary legal residency," wherein the applicant will "pay a processing fee and undergo a background check."
"Those with felony convictions," it states, "(other than individual identity violations) will be deported." (Italics added.)
Thus, Montgomery agrees to an exception for the very individuals he currently is prosecuting. These are people Montgomery chooses to prosecute in such a way that they remain in Arpaio's jails indefinitely, coercing them to plead guilty to crimes that make them deportable from the United States.
Despite Montgomery's claims to be opposed to the Obama administration's policies toward the undocumented, they are in fact partners.
As I've already exposed, in early 2012, attorneys from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement instructed MCAO attorneys on how to prosecute undocumented workers, so as to secure their removal.
I also published a PowerPoint used by ICE in the seminar, which was held on county property. That PowerPoint now serves as a blueprint for deportation, one used by MCAO prosecutors.
But back to the hearing, where the former Sportex workers were treated worse than the most heinous criminals.
The large courtroom was packed with their family members and with activists from the Phoenix civil rights group Puente, who were present to witness the proceedings and to protest them with a march from the courthouse to Montgomery's offices at Third Avenue and Jefferson Street.