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Immigrant Rights Activist Detained In Arizona As ICE Retaliates Against Political Opponents

After a mandatory check-in, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Tucson, Arizona, detained Alejandra Pablos, a field coordinator for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

The detention—without a bond hearing—is part of a new normal for ICE, where immigrant activists like Pablos are targeted for their political advocacy on immigrant rights and other social justice issues.

Jessica González-Rojas, the executive director for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, stated, “On behalf of the whole NLIRH family, we are enraged about the injustice that Alejandra has faced and are undeterred in the fight for her release.”

“We recognize that Alejandra’s situation is emblematic of a trend of the Trump administration’s relentless targeting of outspoken immigrant justice leaders.”

González-Rojas added, “NLIRH will continue to fight for a world where all Latinxs can live with dignity, autonomy, and self-determination without fear of the injustice and inhumane practices of detention or deportation.”

According to a petition on Mijente, which is a “national hub for Latinx and Chicanx organizing,” Pablos is a legal permanent resident. She faces deportation because of a prior drug-related arrest. She has sought asylum because she fears if she returns to Mexico she will be dangerously persecuted for her political activism.

“In early January, as Pablos was leading chants at a peaceful protest in Virginia outside of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), she was abruptly detained by local agents. It appears that after the protest in Virginia, one of the ICE agents called her deportation officer in Tucson, Arizona, and sought to get her detained in retaliation for her protest,” the Mijente campaign contends.

Pablos recorded a video prior to her detention that was posted on Facebook, where she said, “If you’re seeing this, I just got detained by ICE.” She says ICE is trying to tear the movement for immigrant rights apart, and adds, “I need you to stand up for me. I need you to fight for me.”

Phoenix New Times reported, “Pablos told other Mijente members that when she went in for her ICE check-in on Wednesday and was detained, an officer informed her that after the January arrest, ICE officials in Virginia notified their Arizona counterparts to make sure they knew she’d been busted again.

Pablos’ detention is one of several examples of President Donald Trump’s administration utilizing ICE as a tool for political repression.

In February, immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir, who had his deportation stayed by a federal court, the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, Casa de Maryland, Detention Watch Network, the New York Immigration Coalition, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild filed a federal lawsuit against ICE’s attacks on immigrant rights activists.

Ragbir and the other plaintiffs argued, “The ‘broad discretion exercised by immigration officials,’ has been abused in a cynical effort to punish those who disagree with [President Donald Trump’s] administration—to sweep away all opposition.

“The government’s targeting of activists on the basis of their core political speech is unfair, discriminatory, and un-American. And it violates the First Amendment.”

Image adapted from "Shadows" by kdigga on Flickr
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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."