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Meet the Activist Sent to ICE Despite Being Citizen After Blocking Arizona Highway to Trump Rally

March 22, 2016
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Jacinta González

field director at Mijente, a national political hub for Latinx organizing based in Phoenix.

Democratic and Republican voters head to the polls today in Utah and Arizona, underscoring the battle over immigration reform. In Arizona, demonstrators shut down a highway leading to a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump outside Phoenix Saturday, delaying the rally ahead of today’s key primaries. Three people were arrested, including Jacinta González, a leading immigrant advocate who had locked her neck to a van’s window as part of the roadblock. González was then transferred to immigration custody—despite being a U.S. citizen. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, released a statement saying, "Under current ICE procedures, all foreign-born individuals who are booked into the Maricopa County Jail are interviewed by ICE personnel to determine alienage and removability and whether they would be an enforcement priority for the agency." The office of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been monitored by the U.S. Justice Department for what it calls a "systematic disregard for basic constitutional protections." We speak with Jacinta González, field director at Mijente, a national political hub for Latinx organizing.

Click here to see Part 2 of our conversation.


TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. Democratic and Republican voters are heading to the polls today in Utah, in Arizona, Democrats in Idaho, as well, underscoring the battle over immigration reform. In Arizona, demonstrators shut down a highway leading to a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump outside Phoenix Saturday, delaying the rally. Three people were arrested, including Jacinta González, a leading immigrant rights advocate, who had locked her neck to a van’s window as part of the roadblock. González was then transferred to immigration custody—despite being a U.S. citizen. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, released a statement saying that, quote, "all foreign-born individuals who are booked into the Maricopa County Jail are interviewed by ICE personnel to determine alienage and removability and whether they would be an enforcement priority for the agency." The office of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been monitored by the U.S. Justice Department for what it calls a "systematic disregard for basic constitutional protections." Well, Jacinta González joins us right now.

Welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about what happened to you this weekend.

JACINTA GONZÁLEZ: Thank you so much for having us. Well, as you said, we decided to protest the Trump event and shut it down by using our bodies and putting ourselves on the line. We did this because we understand that Trump is more than just a candidate. We understand that the political space that he’s opening up is bringing up threats against our community. We’re seeing it in the state Legislature here in Arizona. For example, there’s many anti-immigrant bills that are going to be possibly signed by Governor Ducey later this week, which is why we’re urging him to say no to Trump and veto those bills. But we also saw that the operation, the machinery, that is in place right now for racial profiling, is alive and well. So, many of the words that Donald Trump is promoting and saying that he’s going to do are already in existence. And we know that, as a community, we have to be able to resist and push back.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, you were arrested with two other people. What happened to them, Jacinta?

JACINTA GONZÁLEZ: They were released. We were all released on our own recognizance. And they were able to get out of the jail much earlier. Because of my surname, I was singled out for interviews. I defended my constitutional rights, and I was retaliated against. And for that reason, I was held overnight in the jail and then transferred to immigration custody. This just again proves that racial profiling is alive and well in Arizona. And Trump is opening up more space to liven up that debate and to encourage people to promote policies of hate. And so, for us, it’s so important for us to push back against this current administration, that says that it’s against the policies of Trump, yet what we’re seeing in the jails is that they’re doing exactly the same thing. They’re promoting racial profiling. They’re violating people’s constitutional rights and their own protocols. In essence, it’s the equivalent of if President Trump were to come in to be the president of the United States, they’re handing him a car with a full tank of gas to deport communities, incarcerate them and racial profile. And that’s why we must push back on both sides of this.

AMY GOODMAN: Jacinta González, Donald Trump isn’t president yet, yet do you see his rhetoric having an effect on legislation, for example, in your state of Arizona?

JACINTA GONZÁLEZ: Yes. Like I mentioned, right now we’re facing several anti-immigrant bills, as well as anti-refugee bills, bills that are anti-women and that are increasing incarceration. This is a space that has been opened up because of the Trump campaign. He’s livening up racial hatred in America, and that’s why we’re continuing to resist. Governor Ducey will have to face the dilemma this week. He’ll have to decide: Is he on the side of Trump, on the side of laws like S.B. 1070, that also have been proven to be unconstitutional, or will he be on the side of the Constitution and immigrant rights and family unity?

AMY GOODMAN: Jacinta, you were protesting Donald Trump, but you were arrested under the Bush administration—I mean, rather, under the Obama administration. Of course, it’s President Obama who is the president today.

JACINTA GONZÁLEZ: Yeah. I mean, this is again what we’re seeing over and over in our communities, is detainers, immigration enforcement, raids, deportations have consistently been up with President Obama. There’s a reason he’s called the deporter-in-chief. Now, there’s been some relief, but a lot of the infrastructure that he built out continues to exist. ICE and Border Patrol are the largest police force in America, yet they have very little oversight. So imagine what would happen with an agency that’s already rogue, that’s already detaining citizens and violating the Constitution, under someone like Donald Trump. So we understand the difficulties of the reality now and understand the dangers of having someone like Trump in control of that type of infrastructure.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for being with us, Jacinta González, field director of Mijente, a national political hub for Latinx organizing. We’re going to continue the interview and post it online at democracynow.org.


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