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.
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