Bill Montgomery Prosecuting Fewer Illegal Immigrants for Smuggling Themselves Into Country

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Maricopa County Bill Montgomery has prosecuted far fewer illegal immigrants for conspiring to smuggle themselves than his predecessor, Andrew Thomas.

Thomas, who was disbarred earlier this year for abusing his power, came up with the idea to charge average illegal immigrants with conspiracy under Arizona's 2005 state human smuggling law as a way to meet a campaign promise to do something about illegal immigration. He called the plan his own "no-amnesty policy."

Thomas' political ally, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, was more than happy to supply him with arrested illegal immigrants, who were hunted down by his deputies as part of what the U.S. Department of Justice called one of the worst cases of racial profiling ever seen. In the mid-2000s, though, courts upheld the Thomas interpretation of the smuggling and conspiracy statutes.

Rick Romley temporarily suspended those conspiracy prosecutions while he served as interim county attorney from April to November of 2010, saying that Arpaio and Thomas, while focusing on low-level offenders, were letting crime syndicates gain in power.

See also: $5 million (and counting) to jail "human cargo" of smugglers under AZ law

In a 2008 article, we related how each offender -- instead of being put on a bus to Mexico or sent to other locales -- would serve about three months' time in county lockup, for a cost to taxpayers of about $6,800 each.

Montgomery re-started the prosecutions after taking office in November of 2010. He and Arpaio funneled slightly fewer immigrants through the system on conspiracy charges in 2011.

This year, the number of people prosecuted on the Thomas innovation has fallen dramatically.

New Times requested data about these cases from the county attorney's office last month, and the office released the figures this week:

2008 = 294

2009 = 493

2010 = 369 (Andrew Thomas leaves office in April. Rick Romley serves from April to November, when Montgomery took over.)

2011 = 330

2012 = 155 (as of last week)

Those numbers are similar to other figures released in media reports recently about the decline in illegal immigrants, but don't line up precisely.

While border apprehensions and illegal immigrants identified in Maricopa County jails have decreased by steady, large margins since 2008, Thomas, conversely, saw a 67 percent jump in his 2009 prosecutions for immigrants on smuggling conspiracy charges.

Immigrants deported under the 287(g) compact between the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau, either by a voluntary removal or deportation order, fell 31 percent from 2008 to 2009.

One explanation for the difference could be the hyper-aggressive -- and racially discriminatory -- enforcement policies of Arpaio and Thomas' offices.

Here are stats for people removed by ICE from Maricopa jails:

2009: (-31 percent from 2008)
2010: (-37 percent)
2011: (-42 percent)
2012: (-53 percent)

And the rates for the people prosecuted under the state conspiracy charge:

2009: (67 percent increase from 2008)
2010: (-25 percent)
2011: (-10 percent)
2012: (-42 percent)

Submitted human-smuggling conspiracy cases and subsequent filings by Montgomery's office have also seen a much more pronounced drop in 2012. These numbers are somewhat less useful than the numbers of actual people prosecuted, however. The County Attorney's Office says the numbers it release for submittal and filings include more than just "illegal alien" cases, that each case may involve numerous defendants, and that there may or may not be "overlap" in the numbers.

(As a side note, we should mention that although Arpaio has boasted in the past that he's running the only agency that submits these smuggle-yourself cases for prosecution, the County Attorney's Office says that a few have originated from the Arizona Department of Public Safety.)

The large drop-off in conspiracy defendants this year doesn't just coincide with an overall drop in immigrants. Arpaio's office has faced serious pressure in the past year to re-tool his immigration enforcement efforts. The decrease in conspiracy prosecutions seems to have accelerated following a December ruling by a federal judge that targeted how the Sheriff's Office could pull over suspected immigration violators.

U.S. District Judge Murrary Snow, in a wide-ranging lawsuit alleging that Arpaio and his deputies discriminate against Hispanics, told the agency that it could no longer detain anyone based solely on the notion that the person might be an illegal immigration. The Sheriff's Office has appealed the ruling, but hasn't gotten an answer yet either on that question or a verdict by Snow in the racial profiling lawsuit.

Naturally, neither Arpaio nor his new political ally, Bill Montgomery, want to give any credit for the decrease in punished illegal immigrants to their foes, who are suing Arpaio -- the U.S. government and the civil-rights advocates.

Deputy Chief Brian Sands of the Sheriff's Office, through spokeswoman Lisa Allen, says that "prosecutions may be declining because, until recently, the amount of human smuggling activity was declining, perhaps in part due to the economy here in the US. Recently, we have seen an upsurge in the numbers of load vehicles found so more prosecutions are on their way...."

Bill Montgomery declined comment on the matter last week for New Times.

His spokesman, Jerry Cobb, wrote in an e-mail, "These figures would appear to be consistent with the well documented declines in illegal immigration in Arizona."

Clearly, the declines of undocumented people must have had some effect on the conspiracy prosecutions. But, at least in the last year, another impact on Arpaio and Montgomery's plans to bust illegal immigrants has been the push-back.

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Bill MOrtgomery and MCAO are still pursuing their brand of immigration enforcement but have adopted a new tactic.  Now they are aggressively pursuing "forgery" charges against undocumented immigrants found to be working in the US with made-up social security numbers.  These individuals usually have no other criminal history and often have US citizen family members, but they are jailed for 3 months or more and convicted on felony charges.  I would guess this is why the smuggling cases have decreased because they're now focusing their efforts on pursuing felony charges against workers inside the US.  By the way, the employers in these cases aren't being prosecuted or investigated, even where there is evidence that they knew the employee did not have proper paperwork.




God help America. Obama’s won a second term, so we can expect Sky high gas prices as he plays into the Environmentalists zealots hands. Even more rules and regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to inhibit the drilling of petroleum, natural gas and the inevitable extinction of the coal industry.  A massive illegal alien invasion under President Obama’s watch to give the 20 million illegal aliens a path to citizenship, in this once sovereign nation. Instead of small business created the demoralization as the companies leaving the U.S.A for less taxed countries. Huge influx of more illegal aliens pouring into the country, for Obama’s entitlement programs bringing their babies in even huge waves and an astronomical burden on taxpayers.  Unions becoming even more powerful, buying favors from the already corrupt political parties. More draining of the U.S. treasury to pay for so called friends in incompetent foreign countries, and the dismissal of a once powerful military defense, conceding to huge cuts in budgets to pay for the spongers, scroungers and freeloaders amongst the population who have no intentions of finding a job. An even deeper recession with this administration printing more money, adding to a growing inflation, more expensive food and  even more crushing threats of the Justice Department against states as Arizona, Georgia, and a few others in the 50 states by  bloated agencies.


Marxists such as the notorious Eric Holder, ultra Liberal as Janet Napolitano, Communist Czars  and his rash of simpletons in his federal agency who sued states trying to protect their taxpayers from spending their hard earned money on supporting illegal aliens. A clamp down on free speech, liberties and freedoms by Obama’s liberal’s goons throughout the states.  More control by the United Nations as Obama administration is subservient to them, to provide a global tax of all the industrialized nations. The United States is becoming a more secular country under this government, which is prosecuting the rights of the church and religion because of the harsh Socialist agenda.  This country is becoming more Balkanized by 137 foreign languages instead of the one foundation of everybody speaking English. Our educational system is in dire trouble, with a failing beyond what we can imagine and covered up? Places with large populations with illegal alien children are flooding our schools and distracting our teachers from producing our performance of legitimate Americans and legal immigrants. The loss to our great country is returning our school structure to our states and not compromised by a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington. Instead I suspect a monolithic rise in government agencies that is a danger to our fundamental liberties.


Political correctness forced on a nation so that terminology such as terrorist is banned or words attributed to the murderers spawning seed in the Middle East. The right to bear arms will be something this administration tries to erase in the next four years.  However, one bright light at the end of the tunnel, whichever way you see it?  The Republicans with the growing spread of the TEA PARTY in the House of Representatives means another four years of deadlock, where no major policies can be passed. No bills of any importance will also be accomplished in the Senate, with a senile old man called Harry Reid of Nevada. Nothing and I mean nothing will find passage under majority leader Reid, because both parties hate each other. I am extremely grateful that the House of Representatives holds reign of the purse strings, so funds can be withheld from the Tax and spend Democrats.

This new America has been built on the backs of takers, that is, those who take the entitlements but, do not produce. The Takers won last night. Obama cunningly promised more entitlements to an entitlement driven society, and, like a moth to the light they embraced his offer and sold their votes (souls) for more stuff. As the takers sold their votes they empowered the government, so now Washington can control of their lives as long as the gravy train keeps rolling. With gridlock in Congress, little or nothing will be done. Obama’s minions used the racial separation, the illegal migrant and immigrant major issue and has shown through his first four years of an administration full of derision, anti-conservatism and a serious move towards a European type socialist Democracy. I worked 29 years in the Merchant Marine and earned my 4 pensions. I want to know “WHY” for the my hard work of grueling, arduous years at sea for my family, that my taxes are taken to pay for the living standards of “Freeloaders” and the largest majority of illegal aliens who are parasites at the public trough? NOTHINGS GOING TO CHANGE? ILLEGAL ALIENS WILL KEEP COMING DEMANDING CITIZEN RIGHT AND WE ARE THE FOOLS THAT WILL PANDER TO THEM.


The Tea Party is now more significant than ever before with estimates of 41 million voters. We told the Republicans they should be more confrontational, more direct and display Obama’s record for the world to see, but their egotism blinded them to the reality. The accomplishments of the Tea Party is the only shining light in the conservative movement and the GOP took complete advantage of our work as well as the sweat of our backs, and yet, the blind Pharisees refused our wise counsel. This leaves us with little choice but to take it, get tougher and protect our American heritage with all we’ve got.  Mr. Mitt Romney worked hard, but played it safe, stayed in the safe waters and refused to expose ‘America’s Fraud President’ and what was the result? Mr. Romney lost, and the Republican Party failed America. However, the greater issue is far beyond Obama or Romney. This Presidential race clearly shows America is a DIVIDED NATION looking for a tough no-nonsense management with real conservative values. The Tea Party is the last remaining stronghold of TRUE Conservative values in America, we must not stop!


The Liberal stream media has been co-conspirators from the commencement and thus the general public knew little of ‘America’s Fraud President’ and the hateful measures perpetrated by the Obama Regime. This is why the Tea Party must bring national awareness to the dangers of the lame stream press and educate the public on the impact of their recent actions of the ‘takers’ as they sold their votes. The Tea Party must march forward with a 2 prong approach. We must bypass the lame stream media with truthful and accurate information.


We must tell the Republican Party they have proven themselves ineffective and therefore must get out of our way.


Now is the time that we must surge. We shall not go quietly into the night, but we are ready to take our stand here, we will not back down, ever.



Why is the county attorney still wasting taxpayer dollars on this mush? We could use our resources on prosecuting real criminals, such as the many seemingly corrupt politicians in this county and state.


"Here are stats for people removed by ICE from Maricopa jails: "  Curious as to why the numbers provided was only percentage declines and not the actual numbers.  The actual numbers from which these percentages were calculated would have been helpful in understanding the issue. 


I must say, though, that even at its height, less than 500 individuals prosecuted on human smuggling charges for smuggling themselves is an incredibly small amount.  It makes it appear that Arpaio and Thomas were, once again, all bluster and no substance.  I am guessing that those who want to give this dasterdly duo "credit" for being "tough on immigration" would be both surprised and hugely disappointed that they got "tough on immigration" on a whole 500 undocumented immigrants.  I can't find the stats on the number of undocumented immigrants apprehended in Maricopa county 2009, but I'd be curious as to what percentage of those that were apprehended were prosecuted for human smuggling - I suspect its a fairly low number.


Just another example of Arpaio and company being worthless blowhards who don't even accomplish the despicable things that they claim to accomplish.



 @LegitQuestions Here are the numbers that ICE sent me on undocumented people "removed" from the jail:


FY 2007: 3,006

FY2008: 12,555

FY2009:  8,585

FY 2010:  5,327

FY 2011:  3,092

FY 2012:  508 (From Oct. 1, 2011 until the agreement was rescinded on Dec. 16, 2011)


Program total:  33,073


The actual total in 2012 includes a few hundred more processed without the 287(g) agreement.


A couple of other interesting stats related to this issue were given in an AZ Capitol Times story from August 10 about drophouse busts. See:


That article says the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Illegal Immigration Prevention and Apprehension Co-Op Teams (IIMPACT) busted only one drophouse in 2012 through mid-July, compared to 18 drophouses found in 2011. Drophouses found by ICE declined from 51 last year to a predicted 40 in 2012.






Thanks, Ray.  That means at the height of Joe's bluster, when he pontificated about how he was going to come down hard on undocuments immigrants and really get tough, he and Thomas could have referred for prosecuted 8,585 individuals for state prosecution for human smuggling but instead referred less than 6% of that number.  What a lousy prosecution rate.  If indeed this was his highest enforcement priority, as he proclaimed it was, he only obtained prosecution on state human smuggling charges of less than 6% of those that he had locked up.  What a blowhard - all bluster and no action.


He doesn't even do a good job of obtaining convictions on the enforcement priorities that he says are most important to him.



 Thanks for the clarification.  So they only pursued the conspiracy/human smuggling charge against those that were actively in the process of entering the U.S. and had not yet "settled" here. 


I suspect that there's no way to  determine the actual percent, but I do think that those on the right who celebrate Arpaio as the only person in American willing to get tough on illegal immigration would be surprised and disappointed both at how few conspiracy cases were prosecuted and how few transfers from MCSO to ICE occurred in FY '10 and FY'11.


 @LegitQuestions The 8,585 doesn't necessarily represent people who could have been prosecuted successfully on the conspiracy charge. Most were arrested on suspicion of other crimes, then later identified at the jail as undocumented. The conspiracy charge is usually applied to someone who is suspected of being in the process of getting smuggled into the country, and a confession is often taken during the arrest. (Ie., the undocumented person admits he paid someone to get into the United States.)


 @LegitQuestions  LQ, it doesn't help when the man at the top doesn't seem to know (or perhaps care to know) the difference between reasonable suspicion and probable cause. We need a professional, certifiable, law enforcement officer in charge of MCSO.


Not just a gas filled nutbag who wears a plastic pistol tie tack and issues pink jammies.


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