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Right to Protest: Things Undocu-People Need to Have in Mind During Trump’s Visit to Phoenix

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Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

In this beautiful country, thanks to the First Amendment to the Constitution, we have the right of free speech, as long as it is done peacefully, in public spaces.

The community is ready to exercise their right, no doubt, during Trump’s visit to Arizona today when, potentially, 45 will be pardoning criminally convicted and disgraced Joe Arpaio. The former Maricopa County Sheriff was declared guilty on July 31, 2017 of disobeying a federal judge’s orders to stop racially profiling Latinos when enforcing immigration laws.

A recent poll indicates that only 21 percent of Arizonans support Trump in pardoning Arpaio, a very small percent considering how conservative this state is, and that Joe once enjoyed strong support.

I’m sure many will come out to the streets to protest Trump’s policies; his embrace of neo-Nazi, alt-right and white supremacist groups; and everything that makes this administration the most bizarre ever seen in this country.

Many will go to the streets to reject this possible pardon and the travesty of the judicial system it would represent.

In Maricopa County, we have great organizations that have demonstrated a mastery of the art of protest, with high levels of coordination and visual impact at events from simple protest to civil disobedience. Puente, the ADAC, and CNL are some of them.

These days, however, it is important to keep in mind there is an increasing potential danger for undocumented folks, even those who have protected statuses such as TPS and DACA, while exercising the right to protest.

Local attorney Marcos E. Garciaacosta recently posted a warning to anyone who is not a U.S. citizen. He indicated that people who are not citizens should “stay away from any contact with law enforcement which can lead to an arrest.” He stated that “my recent experience is that even if you have DACA or other temporary protection (TPS, etc.), if you get detained and taken to 4th Avenue Jail it is very likely you will be processed through ICE.”

Moreover, he said that “if you have DACA or TPS, ICE may revoke those benefits, so you become a priority for deportation.”

Marcos suggests non-citizens stay away from civil disobedience, especially now that Trump and Sessions are starting to ramp up the deportation of everyone who lands in jail, no matter how small the charge may be.

Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund always advises safe protesting and the practice of non-violent methods. But for the undocumented and non-citizen community, definitely stay clear of any contact with law enforcement agents that can lead to detention.