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Supreme Court Invalidates Arizona Law Denying Bail to Undocumented Immigrants

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The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to block a lower court ruling overturning an Arizona law that denies bail to undocumented immigrants who are charged with crimes. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the decision will likely result in numerous bail hearings in the state.

Hundreds of immigrants in the country illegally who are charged with felonies such as shoplifting, identity theft, sexual assault and murder will now have opportunities for release pending trial.

Last month, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated the 2006 voter-approved state constitutional amendment that denied bail in such cases. The judges concluded the law violated the constitutionally guaranteed right to due process and imposed punishment before trial.

This week, the Supreme Court announced it agreed with the 9th Circuit Court’s ruling.

Proponents of the bail-denial law say the court decision could call into question similar statutes in 40 other states. But, only Arizona, Virginia, Alabama and Missouri have such laws that specifically apply to immigrants in the country illegally.

The Arizona law was passed with overwhelming public support nearly a decade ago along with three other immigration-oriented measures. Those made English Arizona’s official language and prohibited undocumented immigrants from receiving damages in lawsuits as well as some government benefits.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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