Arizona Reproductive Justice Activist, Now Free from ICE Jail, Says She Was Targeted for Activism

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Immigrant rights and reproductive justice activist Alejandra Pablos has been freed from the for-profit Eloy Detention Center, where she was detained for more than 40 days after she reported to a routine ICE check-in on March 7. Advocates say she was detained in retaliation for her activism, particularly for protesting outside the Homeland Security Department office in Virginia earlier this year. Pablos works for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. Pablos was a legal permanent resident who grew up in Arizona, but a conviction for driving under the influence nearly a decade ago has made her subject to deportation.

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

AMY GOODMAN: We end today’s show in Arizona, where immigrant rights and reproductive justice activist Alejandra Pablos was just freed from the for-profit Eloy Detention Center, where she was detained for more than 40 days after she reported to a routine ICE check-in on March 7th. Advocates say she was detained in retaliation for her activism. Alejandra Pablos works for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

We welcome you from Tucson, Arizona. Can you talk about where you were held, why you were taken and how you achieved your freedom, Alejandra?

ALEJANDRA PABLOS: Hi, Amy. Thank you, everyone. Thank you to the community who supported me throughout these 40 days.

But, basically, I was in Eloy Detention Center because Trump has his own personal police force, which is ICE. They’re enacting all his white supremacist agenda. People—all our community right now are being deported, especially working people and, like you said, activists. And I was simply detained because of an arrest at a peaceful protest in Virginia. I haven’t even been convicted. But I was there fighting for my redetermination of custody.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk about where you were taken and then the Eloy Detention Center. This was a place you’d been held in for two years before, years ago. Describe the conditions there.

ALEJANDRA PABLOS: Yes, absolutely. I think since I’ve been gone for five years, it’s only gotten worse. I think CCA, which is now CoreCivic, has made it easier to treat folks in there like prisoners, even worse than prisoners. A lot of the women there are not being allowed to touch their children during visits. The medical negligence was the most heartbreaking. ICE does have a separate contract with the medical facilities there. And the food is not nutritious at all. The women there are suffering from lack of just educational, vocational programs. They’re being detained indefinitely there. And there’s no accountability for that private prison. They’ve been, for too long, been doing things very secretively, and literally treating our bodies in there like if we were illegal. And they’re not giving anybody the benefit of the doubt there. We’re not being treated with respect or dignity. And I think it was important for me to go back there to see what was happening, because it’s only gotten worse.

I was there, like I said, simply for the arrest in Virginia. And those 42 days, I was able to see how community organizing works, how folks were able to support me and demand and pressure them to release me. There was no reason for me to be there. I have been—I haven’t had any incidents related to drug or alcohol, right? Because that’s why I’m also—I’ve been targeted, not only because of my human rights activism and my advocacy for reproductive justice, but also because I have a criminal record. And I’ve been here since I was a baby. You know, I made some mistakes as a young person, and I’m still being targeted for that. And that’s why I’m also—we’re also asking for Governor Ducey to give me a pardon in Arizona. A pardon will allow me to stay here permanently with my entire U.S. citizen family, and it will allow me to continue my social justice work here, in the only place that I call my home. This is where my loved ones are. This is where I belong.

AMY GOODMAN: At what age were you—did you come here, Alejandra?

ALEJANDRA PABLOS: I was here since a baby. My mom and my dad have been citizens all of my life, basically. But just lack of information from the government and our immigration system, my mom just didn’t petition for me in time, which didn’t allow me to derive from my parents’ citizenship. But I’ve been here since I was a baby, and I was a legal permanent resident.

AMY GOODMAN: Alejandra, we have to continue this, Part 2, web exclusive, at democracynow.org.

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