The past year has been one of unprecedented visibility when it comes to undocumented immigrants on the larger political stage both in Arizona and across the nation. A group of undocumented immigrant activists from Arizona recently traveled on their “Undocubus” to the Democractic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., stopping to openly declare their lack of legal residency status at several rallies along the way. Undocumented activists also staged protests in a number of other cities across the country, including Chicago, San Bernardino, Charleston, S.C. and Birmingham, Ala. And, despite a number of high profile arrests of protestors at these events, law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the most part have not targeted these individuals for deportation. Most of those arrested have been released relatively quickly.
However, in Arizona at least, it seems that this trend could be about to change.
On Thursday evening, the Phoenix home of local DREAM Act supporter and immigrant rights activist Erika Andiola was raided by ICE, and both Andiola’s mother and brother were taken into custody. Despite the fact that ICE officials say they were following up on a longstanding deportation order against the individuals, many are questioning if it was in fact Andiola’s status as a high profile supporter of the rights of undocumented immigrants in her community that led law enforcement to her door. Andiola’s brother has since been released, but her mother is reportedly being transferred to an immigration detention center in Florence.
If ICE and state law enforcement agencies are in fact targeting undocumented activists and their families for deportation, there are many in Arizona who have a great deal to fear, as the state has one of the most active, vocal and visible immigrant activist communities in the country. Newly re-elected Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has already made it clear that he will continue his efforts to target undocumented individuals in his jurisdiction for deportation, despite repeated charges that his office has engaged in unfair racial profiling of Latinos. If Arpaio ramps up his efforts in the new term, high profile individuals like Andiola could make for easy prey.
Those who believe Erika Andiola and her family are being unfairly targeted due to their role in the struggle for immigrant rights in Arizona are being urged to write letters of support to ICE Director John Morton, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and the Arizona Department of Homeland Security. Contact information can be found here.