A Los Angeles civil rights law firm is asking a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to throw out a case involving 44 illegal immigrants who are charged under Arizona’s new anti-human-smuggling law.
Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas said Tuesday the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law is involved in the case at the urging of the Mexican Consul General’s Office in Phoenix, which amounts to a foreign government trying to undermine Arizona law.
“This is an extraordinary attempt by a foreign government to deprive Arizona of its ability to defend itself against the tide of illegal immigration,” Thomas said.
In response, Thomas sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking that the State Department file a complaint against Mexico.
The case began as a traffic stop in the far West Valley in which sheriff’s deputies found two vanloads of illegal immigrants on March 2. Javier Ruiz was charged with human smuggling under Arizona’s new anti-”coyote” law, and 48 illegal immigrants with him were charged as conspirators.
A local, publicly funded defense attorney has argued in court documents that Thomas can’t charge his client, Cupertino Salazar, with conspiracy because under Arizona’s legal language he cannot smuggle himself into the country.
Peter Schey, executive director of the Los Angeles law firm, filed a motion Friday on Salazar’s behalf arguing that another reason the case should be dismissed is because immigration law is the province of the federal government.
“The Maricopa County Attorney and Sheriff’s scheme seeks to have a direct and substantial regulatory impact on immigration,” Schey wrote in the motion.
Schey’s law firm last year posted bail for six illegal immigrants who were arrested after a Mesa man held them at gunpoint and then was arrested for pointing the gun at them.
Thomas said Schey was seeking to organize the remaining 44 defendants in the most recent case. Four of the illegal immigrants have pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of solicitation to commit human smuggling. They served 60 days in jail, will be placed on three years of probation and will be deported, Thomas said.