Arizona passed SB 1070 obligates police to make an attempt, during a “lawful stop, detention or arrest”,to determine a person’s immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal alien amidst a lot of justifiable opposition to the measure. Of course it opens the door to racial profiling, despite what the proponents say and what happened to Briseira Torres is a testament to the lie
Recently, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office alleged Briseira Torres, a shy, 31-year-old single mom from Glendale, was here illegally and that Briseira Torres was not her real name.
She was accused of three counts of forgery, in part because her driver’s license had her real name on it, which the MCAO thought was bogus. Following her arrest, she was held without bond in Estrella Jail for 4 1/2 months.
Torres lost her home and car because she couldn’t make the payments as she endured Estrella’s harsh conditions, lousy food, and detention officers.
Worst of all, she was separated from her 14-year-old daughter, who stayed with Torres’ friend Amy Diaz while her mom was behind bars.
(Delia ) Salvatierra, a well-known immigration attorney, along with the aid of criminal attorney Antonio Bustamante and Johnny Sinodis, a counsel in Salvatierra’s office, went to battle on Torres’ behalf.
In the pile of paperwork they provided to the court, to the prosecutor, and to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was a silver bullet: a sworn statement from Arizona’s Office of Vital Records attesting to the legitimacy of documents on file for Torres.
Among these docs is Torres’ birth certificate, showing she was born August 14, 1981, in Avondale.
Salvatierra asked the court to remand the case back to the grand jury.
Judge Carolyn Passamonte did just this, noting in her minute entry that Torres’ long-form birth certificate was “clearly exculpatory evidence that should have been presented to the grand jury.”
The judge remarked that the documents on file with Vital Records had been “available to the state,” and in oral arguments, the prosecutor had to admit that he’d never bothered to pull the file and inspect it.
More troubling still was Passamonte’s observation that the MCAO’s lone witness, Detective Chris Oberly of the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General, told the grand jury this:
In 1999, Vital Records discovered that Torres’ birth certificate, in his words, had been “falsely created” by Torres’ mother and so the department “canceled it.”
This was not true, according to Vital Records. Torres’ birth certificate never was canceled and remains as valid as the day it was issued.
Facing a hearing regarding Torres’ bond status that he was bound to lose, Deputy County Attorney Daniel Strange moved to dismiss the case “without prejudice,” meaning he could, hypothetically, bring back the charges at a later date.
In other words an American citizen was profiled and as a result asked to prove she was an American. Her proof, legitimate and legal, was not accepted because someone thought based on how she looked she didn’t belong in America. She was locked up in jail and subsequently lost everything she had. Despite the fact she was a lawful citizen and did everything she was required to do by law, she still lost her right to due process until the bitter end. This is the justice of America’s conservatives and particularly the GOP. This is simply not good enough America!