Governor signs bills to help enforce immigration laws

PHOENIX

Gov. Janet Napolitano on Monday signed into law proposals that are intended to help carry out two voter-approved laws that seek to confront some of Arizona’s immigration woes.

One change is aimed at prodding courts to enforce Proposition 100, which denies bail to illegal immigrants who are charged with serious crimes.

The other is intended to help enforce Proposition 300, a law that denies illegal immigrants cheaper in-state tuition and other public benefits at Arizona’s universities and community colleges.

The latest change to the bail rules spells out ground rules that courts must use in deciding if people accused of crimes are illegal immigrants who should be denied bail.

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas has complained that some judges have ignored or given short shrift to requirements of the bail law.

The Maricopa County Superior Court presiding judge has said the court follows the law, but that prosecutors weren’t providing evidence to back up claims that defendants were illegal immigrants.

The change specifies a standard of evidence for courts to use and requires that the no-bail determination be made during a person’s initial court appearance.

“Recently, some of our courts have sought to impose a higher standard of proof from prosecutors seeking to deny bail to such defendants,” Napolitano wrote in a letter to lawmakers. “Such a higher standard is inconsistent with the intent of voters in enacting Proposition 100, the burden of proof required of prosecutors in federal cases and the position of the state attorney general.”

The law that’s intended to help enforce Proposition 300 requires applicants for state-provided government benefits to present documents that show they are in the country legally.

The law said it isn’t enough for applicants for public benefits to merely say they are in the country lawfully.

Opponents of the change said it will interfere with the rule-making ability of state agencies that have to carry out laws.

On the Net:

Arizona Legislature: http://www.azleg.gov

– Associated Press



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