An Arizona law that denies immigrants who are in the country without legal permission the right to post bail for a wide array of felonies won approval Tuesday from a divided federal appeals court.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided 2 to 1 to uphold Arizona’s Proposition 100, a 2006 ballot measure that voters approved 78% to 22% as a state constitutional amendment to create bail exceptions for immigrants who lack authorization.
Two immigrants who were denied bail under the law challenged it in a class-action lawsuit. One was arrested for a drug offense, the other for assault, kidnapping and aiding a criminal syndicate.
They argued that the state law violated the U.S. Constitution’s right to due process and other protections and usurped the federal government’s right to decide immigration law.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the immigrants, contended that people with strong ties to the community, including children, have been denied bail even though they were not likely to flee and were facing charges that could result in no jail time.
In upholding a lower-court ruling in favor of the state, the 9th Circuit majority said that Proposition 100 was aimed at preventing arrested suspects from fleeing before trial, and that it was in line with other no-bail provisions states enact.
“Proposition 100’s legitimate — indeed its compelling — purpose is ensuring that defendants remain in the United States to stand trial for alleged felony violations of Arizona’s criminal laws,” Judge Richard C. Tallman, an appointee of President Clinton, wrote for the majority.