TUCSON — It's routine for immigration officials in Arizona to detain people suspected of being in the country illegally.
Monday, however, the detention of two men — an immigrant rights activist and a father of six in Tucson [Rene Meza] — sparked protests, frustrated local authorities and illustrated the difficulties of complying with SB 1070, the state's controversial immigration enforcement law.
"This is unjust," Alma Hernandez yelled in Spanish to a crowd of about 300 that gathered in front of the Tucson Police Department to protest the detentions. Hernandez, a spokeswoman with the civil rights organization Corazón de Tucson, riled up the crowd by introducing immigrant rights activist Raul Alcaraz Ochoa, who had just been released from immigration detention.
"We need to fight for all those who are detained," Alcaraz Ochoa said.
Now, the father of six, to be fair, was in the country illegally, and was narced on by area residents who noticed that there were five children in his car, and none buckled in.
Think about that the next time someone busts you for talking on your cellphone, and you whine about privacy and stuff.
Ochoa rolled up on the scene after INS agents showed up to re-deport the father, abondoning the children to the care of his girlfriend. When he ascertained there was little he could do to get the father released and back to Mexico without arrest, he slipped under one of the vehicles where he was pepper-sprayed and forcibly removed.
You'll note: the girlfriend, Perla Lopez, was not arrested. She is a United States citizen.
Let that roll around in your head for a moment: a boyfriend visiting a girlfriend in the US is arrested and deported...for a traffic violation.
If the story told by Lopez's mother is accurate, the children were not restrained because the car had just been purchased privately and the car seats had not yet been installed.
We can get into the legalities of immigration law here, and whether SB1070 is even fair, but I want to focus in on a couple of larger points:
1) Had Meza been white, would this stop even have occured? Remember, it wasn't the cops seeing him, they received tips from "concerned citizens." Would the citizens have offered the benefit of the doubt to the driver or would they have become all "George Zimmerman" with him, too?
2) If a minor traffic offense can create such an uproar, where are the gun nuts with their "They is coming to violate my Constitutional rights!" yammerings on this?