On Monday morning, 100 protestors gathered in Indian Steele Park in Phoenix for a march to the offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on North Central Ave. The protestors then continued their march to County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s office at 301 W. Jefferson. The protest was organized by Puente Arizona, a local organization committed to migrant justice, global human rights and non-violence.
Monday’s Puente-sponsored protest is a part of the organization’s ongoing fight against ICE’s deportation policies, which have been responsible for forcibly breaking apart many local families. Last month, protestors successfully intervened when Guatemalan immigrant Edi Arma was taken into custody. Faced with being separated from his family, residents of this country for 13 years, Arma’s community, his family, and migrant rights activists successfully pressed ICE to release him and reunite him with his loved ones.
“Now is the time for us to stand up together for our community’s rights,” urged Puente in a recent call to action. “We all want change, and we can’t sit at home and wait for someone else to make that change happen. It is all of our responsibility to stop deportations and keep families together.”
Monday’s protest was specifically directed in part at one man who has earned a great deal of ire from those who support immigrant rights in Arizona: Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. Montgomery has been accused of using his office to unfairly target undocumented immigrants, prosecuting immigrants who use falsified documents to obtain employment with felonies, at the same time that underage drinkers with fake ids are often let off the hook, uncharged. Facing felony forgery charges, immigrants can remain in custody for months without bail until they are finally brought to trial.
Last week, immigrant rights activists across the country declared March as “National Coming Out of the Shadows” month for undocumented U.S. residents. Throughout March, a series of protests are scheduled in cities throughout the nation where undocumented immigrants and their allies will speak out against our current immigration and deportation system, which they see as unjust and inhumane. This morning’s rally was Phoenix’ contribution to the month-long event. Another protest is scheduled in Tucson this Sunday, March 17.