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AZ Steals Wire Transfers

Arizona is stealing money from innocent people, then challenging them to prove their entitlement to its return. And this, the state's Attorney General says, is a "model of due process." It's more a model of thievery.

Arizona has been seizing wire transfers into the state, as well as some wire transfers into Mexico. So far, the state has taken about $17 million. It claims to grab only cash transfers that it deems "suspicious" -- those it believes facilitate the smuggling of immigrants into the country -- but it seems to regard any large transfer from or to someone with an Hispanic name as evidence of illegality. If your money is taken and you want it back, you have to satisfy the state that you acquired it legitimately. So much for the presumption of innocence.

“They just decided it was a lot easier to sweep everybody on in and make people prove their innocence,” Matthew J. Piers, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said at a news conference in Chicago, where the advocacy group is based. “In this country, we do it the other way around.”

Here's an example of the harm that befalls the innocent when the state presumes guilt:

[O]ne of three plaintiffs named in the lawsuit, Illinois truck driver Javier Torres, said he lost $1,000 that he tried to send to a friend in Arizona to pay for a car that Torres said he quickly resold for profit.

Torres, a Burbank, Ill., resident who said he has been a legal resident of the United States since 1994, said Arizona authorities declined to return the money when he couldn't provide specific documents.

"I never had the car in my name," Torres said by telephone from the coalition's office in Chicago. "They told me 'when you have those documents you can call me back.'"
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  • Re: AZ Steals Wire Transfers (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Fri Oct 20, 2006 at 12:31:16 PM EST
    And, of course, if you don't fight them over your money, that's surely just an incentive for them to come investigating even more because you'd come fight for your money if you were innocent.

    Kind of like testing for witchcraft powers by tossing the bound defendant in the water:  float, you're a witch.  Sink and drown, you were innocent.

    Oh, and remember, in seizure and forfeiture cases, in addition to having to prove innocence, one does not have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, because (A) it's a civil case and (B) the property is the defendant, not the person.


    Re: AZ Steals Wire Transfers (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Fri Oct 20, 2006 at 06:54:33 PM EST
    Reminds me of our asset forfeiture laws.  Guilt is not necessary.

    A wire transfer for a grand is suspicous?  Arizona is no better than a pick-pocket.  Are they pillaging "suspicous" checking accounts yet?  Setting up checkpoints in schoolyards for "suspicous" lunch money to seize?