Immigrant Voices in Arizona: Power and Perseverance in the Face of Abuse

"Elena," mother of three U.S. citizen children, told of how she repeatedly invoked her right to remain silent about her immigration status and how as a result, was threatened with the same fate as a woman, who earlier this year, had her arm broken by MCSO officers trying to get her thumbprint on an official form. She told the commission about her brother-in-law, who was deported from the Florence detention center the weekend before she was arrested and that her husband was detained in Florence only one month earlier. In order to pay the $5,000 immigration bond to secure her husband's release, Elena and her children couldn't buy food. The same week she was arrested, the detention centers had a flu outbreak and the local ICE office stopped transfers to the facilities in Florence and Eloy. Elena looked at Commissioner Felipe González and said, “God was looking out for me. He sent the flu to the detention center so they couldn't send me there. So my children wouldn't have to suffer again.”

During another interview, "Samuel," a business owner who has lived in Phoenix for 20 years, called the interrogation by Maricopa County sheriff's deputies, “el martillo de abuso” or the “hammer of abuse”— referring to the repeated, insistent demands by deputies to answer questions about his immigration status. Samuel refused to answer, repeatedly asking to speak to his attorney. Once his attorney was on the phone, ICE agents asked her to talk Samuel into answering their questions—she refused their request.

Finally, "Marco" told the story of how he and his friends, all raised in Phoenix since early childhood, were arrested and issued immigration detainers after being pulled over for a minor traffic violation. Similar to the previous cases, ICE officers interrogated all of them, taking turns threatening, harassing and intimidating them. Marco and his friends repeatedly asked to speak to an attorney and refused to answer questions about their immigration status. Eventually, ICE officers discovered that Marco had been detained in Eloy a year earlier and was in ongoing removal proceedings. They released him. Marco told the commission, “Do you know why I didn't tell them? I didn't want to leave my friends alone in there.”

There is much to be said about the anti-immigrant political climate in Arizona and the effect of discriminatory police practices on immigrant communities in the state. In fact, each of the persons interviewed by the commission stated that they no longer have confidence in local police—and justifiably so. There is also much to say about the due process violations raised during the Arizona meetings, but what has stuck with me above all else is the bravery and resilience of each person for asserting their rights, their willingness to share their personal stories and horrific experiences and for standing up for themselves, their families and communities in the face of abusive authority.

Listening to each of them during the meeting with the IACHR was a powerful reminder of what is at the core of the immigrants' rights movement— perseverance in protecting and preserving human rights and dignity.

Learn more about the ACLU of Arizona's work at www.acluaz.org.

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Paen

Sounds like ethnic cleansing to me.

William Toodle

WEll i guess my first message never got to you probly part of the continual scheme to keep there dirty lundary in house. other methods are bugging my home telephone services going to college where i attend school speaking bad of me plus contacting potenial empolyment and discourge them from hiring me. Arizona has its own laws different from the rest of the United States its like a bad movie thats has come to life. The court proceeding are unconstitutional at best atleast in my case. where the factal information was ignored my public pretender never showed to one court date and i was allowed to speak to the judge from the seats in the court they would not allow me to speak into the microphone like everyone before me.when i questioned it they became very angry i was also given the wrong court dates on a back of a card in hopes that i would miss the real court date thus make me FTA loseing by default. i ask myself is all this happening cause im black mybe or some bad people raised some bad kids who grew up tobe bad people that patrol our streets and oversee our court rooms. I know police write lies tell lies but judges that was knew to me. and they stand and point the finger at other people, not surprised anymore its the American way,or the white way no harm meant just calling like it is. You might think he's angry not really just wanna see justice work for me after all i'm american it's suppose to regardless of my stature or the poeple who committed the crime status. The people here in arizona are cruel to the bone,only awearness will change what takes place here. I contact the FBI on the West coast aleast no responces i heard on a documentary they use tobe part of the Klan i don't know but i do know this my story is the truth. i told the story to my classmates there was not one dry eye in the classroom my teacher even wrote at the top of the paper powerful strong, maybe so but inside of me i was crushed by the unconstitutional acts by people who were sworn in to do the right thing and never came close to doing the right thing. instead they continue there unscrupulous behavior i guess because they have nothing better to do or the infomation have could ruin many careers i think is not the latter.you might be saying what happen ? swat team police kicked my door down news in front of my house stateing man with guns and drugs holding girl friend and daughter hostage. no guns no drugs found my girl fiends made no call to the police what so ever she even gave a notarized affadavit stating this was a lie we were told don't care about the affadavit. guess what i was charged with?theft of my onw cell phone i paid 30 dollars for the phone. thats a dam shame. but it justice in Arizona or was it blackmans justice in Arizona makes you wonder. know this it was not leagal American justice. i recently 2dys ago sent a letter to the FBI informing that my home and phone was bugged also my computer Will see, you know the old boy system look out for me and i will look out for you and lets sweep the truth under the rug or kill the complaintent Well my story is in 4 out of 50 states somebody going to make sure justice is served i'am sure of that. reply i like to here from you email toodlewilliam@yahoo.com remember my computer is bugg.

Maggie

Perhaps the Illegal Immigrant might want to step back and check out the current news. If this new health care goes through they will be subject to the same care we are going to get. Which includes no help for the elderly because they are to old. People with disabilities and any serious disease will not be helped either because they take away from the healthy. Now that sounds like ethnic cleansing to me.

ACLU only cares...

sellouts!

We The People

Wow it is very clear to me now. Actually it makes sense.

I can clearly see a wonderful multi-pattern printout on toilet tissue. I am talking of what have become our Bill of Rights,… toilet tissue. I can picture it; it will be standard issue, on all governmental offices, especially those in Washington. The prefer brand of most comities. Completely meaningless, use only at convenience by bonafide governmental official only. Yes I did read the recommendations too.

Yess It makes me very angry. Ignorance sometimes is precious. But not now.

Bill Davis

Folks, quit bitching about the "abuses" and do something about changing the law. You, as legal citizens and illegal citizens, have the right under the constitution to change law. As it stands now 1) illegal immigration is a felony. 2) The Law enforcement officers are acting within the law. So, you might want to lay off them as they will get fired for not enforcing the law. 3) Until the law changes, it is not the fault of the Sheriff, Deputies, Federal Agents, Parole officers, etc. it is your fault for not educating yourself on how to navigate the legal system.

Good Day.

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