On Sunday, Tucson Police and the Border Patrol arrested Rene Meza Huertha, in front of his wife and children, and arrested activist Raúl Alcaráz Ochoa, who was trying to prevent the arrest of Huertha. This action by TPD is in direct violation of the City Council's vote in August 2012– making Tucson an "immigrant friendly" city. From the Arizona Daily Star…
"We don't want people to feel fear when traveling to work, to school, to the store," [City Councilwoman Regina] Romero said before the meeting. "We also don't want people to be afraid to call the police to report a crime."
She said a conversation now will begin among the city, immigrant communities, businesses, the Tucson Police Department and others about how to make the city more welcoming.
Activists are calling for a protest and press conference today, Monday, February 18 at 4 p.m., outside of TPD.
On a related note, the American Friends Service Committee, Border Links, Derechos Humanos, and other immigrant supporters, including the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, will hold a press conference and protest of Operation Streamline on Tuesday, February 19, at 12:30 at the Federal Courthouse. The Operation Streamline action leads up to a Congressional hearing on this policy on February 22 in DC. Details and background on both of these actions after the jump.
Arrest of Huertha and Ochoa…
South Tucson – At approximately 2:30 pm this afternoon, Raúl Alcaráz Ochoa, a community organizer with the Southside Worker Center and Corazón de Tucson, placed himself under a Border Patrol (BP) vehicle to prevent officials from detaining and deporting Tucsonan Rene Meza Huertha. He was subsequently detained by BP officials.
At approximately 1:30pm the Tucson Police Department (TPD) pulled over Meza Huertha, along with his expectant wife and six children. TPD, in direct contradiction of previous statements promising to be more "immigrant welcoming," called Border Patrol to take Mr. Huertha into custody. Mr. Alcaráz Ochoa, a long time advocate against massive deportations in our community and country, placed himself underneath the vehicle in which Mr. Huertha was detained. At the time of his detainment, there were at least six Border Patrol Agents and four TPD officers on the scene. Border Patrol officials proceeded to repeatedly pepper spray Mr. Alcaráz Ochoa, who suffers from asthma, before dragging him out, handcuffing him, and taking him into custody.
Corazón de Tucson and the Southside Worker Center are calling for a protest and press conference tomorrow, Monday, February 18 at 4:00pm outside the Tucson Police Department at 270 S. Stone Ave. They are demanding the immediate release without charges, of both Raúl Alcaráz Ochoa and Rene Meza Huertha. Furthermore, they demand an end to alldeportations and to stop the assault on families by police and Border Patrol. They call for an immediate halt of the cooperation between Tucson Police Department and Border Patrol. As Alma Hernandez of Corazón de Tucson, who herself has experienced detention and separation from her three young children shared, "We must end this attack on families. Deportations and detentions are destroying our community."
Please join American Friends Service, No More Deaths, Derechos Humanos, and others at a press conference regarding Operation Streamline on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 from 12:30-1:30pm in front of the Evo A. DeConcini Federal Courthouse in Tucson, Arizona (405 W Congress). We will be gathering to demand an end to Operation Streamline as part of National Days of Action from Feb. 19-21, leading up to a legislative hearing in DC on February 22 on Operation Streamline as part of the discussions on Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
Operation Streamline is a little-known border enforcement program that is part of a larger trend toward criminalization of migration. Operation Streamline mandates criminal prosecution of migrants in certain border sectors, including the Tucson Sector. The federal government now commits over $1.02 billion per year towards sentenced days for the criminal incarceration of migrants. Since 2005, the federal government has spent an estimated $5.5 billion incarcerating undocumented immigrants in the criminal justice system for unauthorized entry and re-entry, above and beyond the civil immigration system. The private prison industry is one of the biggest beneficiaries of these programs. Lucrative contracts for Bureau of Prisons-contracted "Criminal Alien Requirement" prisons have contributed to record profits for corporations like GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America.
Other groups across the country will be staging similar press conferences and actions from the 19th to the 21st. Attached and below you can see a memo that outlines a broad statement of demands for any comprehensive immigration reform. This memo comes from national groups such as Grassroots Leadership, ACLU, AFSC, and Justice Strategies that are working to organize these National Days of Action.
We have the following asks of individuals and groups:
Please join us on Tuesday, 2.19.13 @ 12:30pm in front of the Federal Building, downtown for the press conference and presence decrying the crime of Operation Streamline. The confirmed speakers for this event will be: Andy Silverman (NMD), Caroline Isaacs (AFSC), and Isabel Garcia (Derechos Humanos), Marcelo Ruiz, and faith leaders. [Emphasis added.]