Un Dia Sin Fronteras

La Injusticia Para Uno Es La Injusticia Para Todos!

Arizona News From Leah Jo Carnine

Leah Jo Carnine



Vigil At Pinal County Detention Center

Florence is a prison town located between Tucson and Phoenix near the drying Salt River. The industry and economy of this small Arizona town centers around the incarceration of humans in nine state and federal prisons, two private prisons, and an increasing number of Immigration detention centers. Immigrants waiting for deportation or immigration court dates are held at five separate long-term detention facilities in Florence and Eloy- for weeks to months to years- often held on minor infractions while their families wait outside.





Editor’s Note: Check Out Vigilante Justice

On July 7, a group of community members, formerly detained migrants, faith leaders and migrant rights activists held the first protest vigil in recorded history against detention and criminalization in the town of Florence. Circled up on the hot concrete of the Pinal County Jail parking lot as the sun began to set, the group sang songs and shared stories to build solidarity and support over the walls of private prisons and county immigration centers to the migrants locked inside.




The vigil was held at Pinal County Jail (PCJ) to bring attention to the particularly atrocious conditions inside. Although all of the detention centers are unjust, none are worse than PCJ, which is notorious for the ongoing mistreatment and abuse of detainees. In PCJ, migrants are not allowed to go out outside or see their families in visitation, and ICE agents regularly lock inmates down for minor infractions like detainees not making their beds. For more information on PCJ, check out this Phoenix New Times article.

Phoenix New Times Article

The activists and formerly detained migrants are well aware of the larger legacy and impacts of criminalization of communities of color, of which PCJ and immigration detention is one result. In Arizona, and increasingly throughout the country, we are seeing the spread and increase in private prisons, and the selling of immigrants to fill them. “Through contracts with private corporations and local county jails, ICE detains 3,000 immigrants on any given day in Arizona” states Victoria Lopez in the newly released ACLU report “In Their Own Words: Enduring abuse in Arizona Detention centers”.


Immigration Detention, ICE, Pinal County, ICE Raid


We are also seeing the spread of creative resistance, from the mass marches and “buy spots” in Georgia in response to SB1070 copycat laws, to the Neighborhood defense committees of migrant communities organizing in self defense spreading across the country, to actually bringing presence and resistance to the detention centers themselves- for the first time in history.


Carpools from Phoenix and Tucson joined in Florence at 6:30 in the evening, greeted by a blockade of cops to intimidate. As activists and community members trickled in, post-cards were handed out to encourage ICE to end county contracts with PCJ. An artist in Phoenix had made posters saying ‘Dignity not detention“,


‘stop the sale of migrants’, and ‘end county contracts with ICE’. The vigil was held in hopes of pushing ICE to end its’ immigrant detention contract with the county. And they will be held ongoingly to increase pressure towards this end.




Raul Al-qaraz- Ochoa started off the program with a poem in Spanish, “Nuestra vida es una revelación, una lucha, una rebeldía (Our life is a revelation, a struggle, a rebellion)” he continued, “Decimos No a las fronteras! Y decimos ¡Un alto a los centros de detencion!! (We say no to borders and an end to all detention centers!)”.

Shortly after, Fernando Lopez, an activist with the Puente movement in Phoenix entered the middle of the circle to speak. He had been released from PCJ just that afternoon, after countless friends and fellow activists raised the funds to bail bond him out from immigration detention. He thanked the crowd, told stories from being inside, about friends he’d made who’d been held in PCJ for 13 months, unable to see their children and partners, or feel the sun.

The proximity to the detention center heightened the intensity of the stories, bringing them home to the hearts of the protesters. After Fernando spoke, Hector, who had been released from CCA private prison after 5 months of detention shared stories, and messages of hope for our organizing and support. With songs led by UU faith leaders, with stories and visioning for next steps, the group committed to meet monthly in Florence, to continue to raise awareness of the injustices of immigration detention, and put pressure on ICE to end county contracts with PCJ.


Note: Photos added from Google Images by Publisher.


Un Dia Sin Fronteras

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