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Five Years After SB 1070, Arizona Immigrant Community Marks Victories And Arpaio Is On Trial For Contempt

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On April 23, 2010, former Governor Jan Brewer signed into law SB 1070, one of the nation’s toughest and most controversial pieces of legislation regarding immigration enforcement.

Five years later, Arizona remains at the epicenter of the immigrant rights debate.

Yesterday, on the fifth anniversary of the enactment of SB 10170, Arizona activists took to the streets to denounce recent practices by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the dehumanizing tactic employed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and the continued criminalization of immigrants across the state.

From AZCenteral.com:

More than 200 demonstrators gathered at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix before marching toward the Fourth Avenue Jail on Thursday, the fifth anniversary of when Gov. Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070 into law, in protest of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers screening suspects for residency status when they’re booked into jail.


But protesters never made it that far, as they ran into another group demonstrating outside the U.S. district courthouse, where Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s civil contempt hearing has been staged this week at Fourth Avenue and Washington Street.

“Arrest Arpaio, not the people” protesters chanted, as a march demanding an “ICE Free Arizona” launched a civil disobedience action:

Puente Arizona, one of the main organizers of yesterday’s activities, stated that the event was the launching pad for a campaign “to remove federal deportation agents from Maricopa County jails.”

On the same day, embattled Sheriff Joe Arpaio faced U.S. District Judge Murray Snow, who questioned Arpaio regarding allegations that Mr. Murray Snow’s wife was being investigated by a private investigator hired by Arpaio:

“Are you aware that I’ve been investigated by anyone?” the judge asked.

Arpaio, who has acknowledged violating the judge’s orders, then said he believes his former lawyer had hired a private investigator to investigate Snow’s wife after she was overheard at a restaurant saying that the judge didn’t want to see Arpaio re-elected.

“We weren’t investigating you,” Arpaio said. “We were investigating some comments that came to our attention.”

The judge didn’t immediately respond to the revelation and showed no emotion as he questioned the sheriff.

The self described ‘Toughest Sheriff in America” must be living his own worst personal nightmare. Already being accused of racial profiling, having his lawsuit against executive action thrown out of court, and having his workplace raids halted – this is just the cherry on top of the Arpaio saga. There’s also been great reporting on the Arpaio from Stephen Lemons at Phoenix New Times, who broke the story of Arpaio’s spying on the Judge’s wife.

And yet, there are reasons to celebrate Arizona.

Yesterday’s rally also celebrated the release of Nicoll Hernandez-Polanco, a Guatemalan transgender woman who was being detained at an all-male facility for the past six months. Ms. Polanco has been granted asylum:

Nicoll’s case is one of many the Transgender Law Center has helped put at the forefront of the demand to stop detaining LGBTQ immigrants—several groups have asked the federal government to classify transgender asylum seekers like Nicoll as a “vulnerable group,” meaning very likely to endure abuse in detention, as was Nicoll’s case.

Equally as uplifting, Arizona is currently seeking to grant in-state tuition to undocumented students. The Arizona Board of Regents is considering a proposal that could see a drastic change in rates for undocumented students who graduated from Arizona high schools:

The regents, who set tuition rates for Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University, have been under pressure for the past few years to enact a lower tuition rate for dreamers.

However, a state law passed by Arizona voters prohibits undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition rates or state-funded financial aid.

The regents plan to discuss the proposal at their May 4 meeting and vote in June.

Arizona Representative Ruben Gallego has already issued a statement urging the board of regents to do right by DREAMers:

“The Arizona Board of Regents’ proposal to give lower tuition to DACA recipients is a good step forward, however it doesn’t go far enough in ensuring that DREAMers – who have lived, been educated and grown up in our state – have access to the same tuition rates and opportunities as their Arizonan counterparts. For many young people this will make the difference between being able to attend college or not.

With all of these developments coming out of Arizona, once known as the “Show Me Your Papers State,” it is clear that the immigrant community is mobilizing swiftly to repair the image of the place they call home.