Lacey and Larkin Fighting for Migrant Rights on Every Front

As Hispanic Heritage Month events are taking place around the country, “la línea fronteriza” – or the Mexican border – in Arizona is a hotbed of both celebration and outrage as the migrant community faces attacks from Congress, the Department of Homeland Security, and lawmakers from their own state.

That outrage is leading to mobilization.

Last month, 350 community organizations, including the Frontera Fund started by Arizona journalists Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, signed their opposition to HR3697, the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act under which “any non-citizen can be arrested, detained and deported without ever being convicted of a crime.”

According the Fund’s Carmen Cornejo, HR3697 “favors discriminatory practices in police departments” like the ones Lacey and Larkin exposed in the Phoenix New Times back in 2007. Read more: Jim Larkin | Angel.co and Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund

Anti-immigrant Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio had them arrested, leading to a long legal battle and the birth of the Frontera Fund, which uses the settlement money arising from their unlawful arrest to support the Hispanic community of Arizona.

September also saw the Federal Register post a new DHS rule calling for the inclusion of “social media handles and aliases, associated identifiable information and search results” in the department’s immigrant files, including naturalized citizens and permanent residents.

The Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund, their partners at the ACLU, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation haven’t been silent, stepping in to advocate for targeted groups as well as question the law’s infringement on First Amendment rights.

The fight over a DACA replacement only intensified as we crossed into October.

On the 8th, the Trump Administration sent a 70-point document to Congress laying out its demands for reform legislation, which included “funding for Trump’s border wall, drastically increased immigration enforcement, and even new restrictions on legal immigration,” according to nonprofit news agency Mother Jones.

In the weeks since Trump’s DACA announcement, proposed replacements like the Republican-sponsored SUCCEED Act and Arizona Senator Jeff Flake’s “Border Security and Deferred Action Recipient Relief” Act would increase border security and place even more obstacles on immigrants’ path to citizenship, like the payment of back taxes and a ten-year conditional residency.

Flake’s proposal even “includes a provision that mirrors the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act,” a sharp betrayal of his state’s migrant constituents even as Phoenix gears up for its sixth annual Dia De Los Muertos Festival and its 28th annual All Souls Procession, which draws 150,000 mourners and celebrants annually.

According to its website, The Frontera Fund was founded to benefit the Hispanic community that has borne the brunt of the racial animus and civil rights abuses in Arizona. Hailing from Phoenix himself, Jim Larkin says he “cannot think of a more deserving group” than the Mexican immigrants who have made Arizona their home.

Although Michael Lacey is a New Jersey native, he attended college at Arizona State before dropping out and founding the Phoenix New Times with Larkin. “Of course Jim and I stand with migrants,” he says. “We are all migrants.”

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