PHOENIX – Last week Gov. Doug Ducey signed HB 2451, pertaining to the release of prisoners with deportation orders, into law.
HB 2451 repeals A.R.S. § 41-1604.14, which allowed the director of the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) to release certain prisoners to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after serving only half of their sentences, providing they were convicted of a lower level class 3, 4, 5 or 6 felony, not convicted of a homicide related or sexual assault offense, and not a repeat or dangerous offender.
The bill was introduced after a number of murders were committed by illegal aliens who had previously been ordered deported while it reinforces punishment of criminals living in the country illegally.
Repeal of A.R.S. § 41-1604.14 will require illegal aliens to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences, exactly as citizens must do, before ADC may release them to ICE.
As Ducey signed the bill, he issued the following statement: “This bill is about fairness and holding everyone to the same standard of justice by eliminating a policy that currently results in two justice systems. If you break the law and commit a crime in Arizona, we expect you to serve your sentence, no exceptions. While some have tried to play politics with this law enforcement issue, the reality is this is a sensible public safety measure that ensures we have one justice system that applies to all. Public safety is the number one role of government, and in light of reports that criminals released early without serving their full sentence are committing crimes in our communities, we must stand for the rule of law.”
Nonetheless, pro-illegal immigration activists protested HB 2451 along with other bills at the state capitol while chanting, “Stop the hate,” and calling the legislation “anti-immigrant.”
Many carried pre-made signs stating: “#NoMoreSB1070s, We Will Boycott Racism” and “Ducey Veto Hate.”
Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, who supported the bill, claims the threat of deportation isn’t enough of a deterrent to illegal alien criminals and was quoted telling the Arizona Republic, “Illegal aliens are getting better treated in our prison system than United States citizens. There are no safeguards in place that the person is actually being deported. Many times, the person is just being released into our community. Or, if they are deported, they come back again.”
Smith sponsored SB 1377, which would have required “courts to sentence persons convicted of a misdemeanor or felony to the maximum term of imprisonment or full presumptive sentence if it is determined that a U.S. immigration offense was an aggravating factor and makes such person ineligible for probation, suspension of sentence, community supervision, commutation or release on any basis until the sentence imposed is served.”