Feathered Bastard

Huffington Post Picks Up on Plight of Immigrant Mom Torn from Children by Joe Arpaio's Goons

When, I wonder, will Ciria Lopez-Pacheco finally be reunited with her children?

The extremely well-read site Huffington Post just picked up on the plight of undocumented mom Ciria Lopez-Pacheco, who was torn from her children the evening of January 9, during Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's anti-immigrant sweep in the west Valley. According to the blog by writer Matt Palevsky, Huffington Post spotted the story on the New York Times' editorial blog The Board. There, video taken by Phoenix civil rights activist Sal Reza shows Lopez-Pacheco's two young children crying after their mommy was arrested by a ski-masked MCSO deputy.

Apparently the reason Lopez-Pacheco was pulled over was because she hadn't turned her lights on in the early evening. She had an outstanding warrant for an unpaid traffic ticket for driving on a suspended license, and was taken into custody. The masked deputy told her kids to kiss their mom goodbye because she would be going back to Mexico. (You can read my initial blog on her and see the video, here.)

This morning she was arraigned in El Mirage municipal court, wearing stripes and pink handcuffs. Lydia Guzman, of the human rights organization Respect/Respeto was there, and told me that the judge cut Lopez-Pacheco some slack, reducing her $700-plus fine to $238. This was paid, and the judge ordered her unconditional release. However, Immigration and Customs Enforcement still has a hold on her, and she's currently being held in Joe's Estrella Jail, part of the MCSO's vast complex of gulags.

Ultimately, she should get a chance to plead her case before an immigration judge. Whether or not she'll be reunited with her kids remains to be seen. Currently, they're staying with a relative. Guzman tells me that the children are just now beginning to understand that their mommy may not be coming back any time soon. They cry every night for her, as you'd imagine they would.

I'm happy Huffington Post picked up the story and posted the video. Thanks again to the New York Times for recognizing the importance of the story and the footage. Now, we just need CNN to pick up on it. Cross your fingers.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons