Immigration has become a hot button issue with the 2016 elections and Donald Trump’s promise to build a huge wall on the border. Since he was elected, Trump has enacted several executive orders that further worsen the situation for migrants. Whether it is a travel restriction, increased deportation laws or the fate of the “Dreamers,” the migrant population is living under oppression and fear.
Two men who are fighting the prejudice against migrants is Michael Larkin and Jim Lacey. Both are newspaper executives who founded the Phoenix New Times and Village Voice Media. One of the counties that subscribed to the paper was Maricopa County, Arizona where the infamous Joe Arpaio is Sheriff.
Larkin and Lacey found themselves in direct opposition to the Sheriff and some of his policies regarding migrants. The paper ran stories about the department’s habit of racial profiling and illegal searches for undocumented migrants.
As Lacey and Larkin became more and more a thorn in Arpaio’s side, the department turned its sights on the paper and its owners. The newsmen discovered that subpoenas had been executed for personal information on Lacey, Larkin and other people who supported the paper. When the two ran a story exposing the operation, they were summarily arrested at their homes and put in jail. Read more: Jim Larkin | Angel.co
When word spread that Lacey and Larkin had been arrested and placed in jail, supporters from everywhere demanded their release. The two were released and all of the charges dropped, but the story doesn’t stop there. Lacey and Larkin brought a civil suit against Arpaio and the department for unlawful arrest. Lacey and Larkin were awarded $3.75 million dollars by the Apellate Court.
Michael and Jim have used that money to found the Frontera Fund which was created to help the Hispanic population in Arizona that has been unfairly targeted and abused. The Fund helps with legal costs, healthcare and other day to day living costs. Lacey and Larkin have also used it to quietly support political candidates who believed in the equal treatment of migrants, in hopes to change the climate of suspicion in their state.
Other groups that Lacey and Larkin support with the Frontera Fund are groups like the Arizona Dream Act Coalition. This organization was started by undocumented students who strive to respond positively to the negative image portrayed. They advocate for educational rights, lower tuitions and fair treatment of all people in Arizona.
The Raul Castro Institute is another example of people making a difference. The school is named after Raul Castro-the only Mexican American to become Governor of Arizona.
He was stopped at a border station when he was 96 years old because his pacemaker had set off the sensors. Despite being held for hours until he was cleared, Castro reacted with dignity and respect. The Institute leads the way in fighting for equal rights through civic participation and networking.
Each of these organizations recognize the importance of standing up for what’s right and for protecting those who don’t have a voice in our political or legal system.
Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: