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Arizona court rules illegal immigrants can be prosecuted under anti-smuggling law

[JURIST] The Arizona Court of Appeals [official website] ruled Thursday that a 2005 state law [text] aimed at prosecuting smugglers hired to ferry illegal immigrants across the border into the US can also be used to prosecute the illegal immigrants. The judge rejected arguments that the law infringed on the powers of the federal government to regulate immigration. The law had been used by Maricopa County authorities to prosecute illegal immigrants as members of a conspiracy for their own border crossing, despite comments by law co-author Arizona state Rep. Jonathan Paton [official website] that it was not intended for that purpose. Capitol Media Services has more.

Illegal immigration has long been a controversial topic in the border state of Arizona. In June, the Arizona State Legislature [official website] passed legislation [HB 2677, PDF; JURIST report] barring the state from implementing the REAL ID Act of 2005 [PDF text; JURIST news archive]. In April, two rights groups filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] in the US District Court for the District of Arizona challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's Proposition 100 [PDF text], which denies bail to illegal immigrants accused of committing serious felonies. Last year, a coalition of civil rights groups filed a federal lawsuit [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] challenging an Arizona law aimed at preventing employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants [JURIST news archive].

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