Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio's War on the Immigrant Kids of Royal Paper Employees, and The Tears of Lives

Lorena learned about her mom's arrest during the MCSO raid at Royal Paper Converting Company in South Phoenix when her uncle called to tell her about it. Lorena's mother had been working long hours at the plant to feed her and her two younger brothers. Lorena is 17, and she had to care for her younger siblings until an aunt was able to come by the household to help.

"My baby brother is 11, my other brother is only one and a-half," she told me earlier today. "I had to take care of them until my aunt came."

When she heard that her mother had been detained and was being held in Arpaio's jails, she didn't know whether to cry or to be mad.

"I just want to see her, to kiss her and hug her," she sobbed. "And tell her I love her."

Lorena is one of several minors whose parents have been collared in Joe's latest salvo on immigrants and their children. At least in her case, there's extended family who can help out.

A young man I'll call Miguel, also 17, is staying with friends of his family. His father was picked up in the Royal Paper raid. He came home from school, switched on the TV, and watched his pops being hauled away. He's not sure when he'll see him again, or what will happen to him. Miguel had been living with his father alone. 

There are also very young children stranded with a babysitter, their parents victims of Arpaio's assault on immigrant workers. Ironically, the babysitter's husband was also taken in by the MCSO's latest use of its federal 287(g) power.

In many cases, organizations such as Respect/Respeto and others are scrambling to help with lawyers, food, you name it. Each time Arpaio does one of these raids on a business, it's like a blockbuster bomb decimating the local immigrant community. 

How more timely then could be the play The Tears of Lives, which deals with the tale of a fictional undocumented immigrant, deported and torn from his children -- children left in this country to fend for themselves? Written by James Garcia and directed by Luis Avila, the drama is being presented August 14 through 16 at Playhouse on the Park, 1850 N. Central Avenue (in the Viad Building at Palm and Central), with proceeds to benefit the Macehualli Day Labor Center.

My colleague Malia Politzer wrote a preview of the play on August 10 for the Valley Fever blog, but with Arpaio's recent raid on Royal Paper, and the cruelty being inflicted on families torn apart by it, I felt it was worth mentioning again. In light of the kids currently being separated by their parents, this play is especially relevant. 

Opening night is tonight at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 general admission, and $10 for students. You can purchase tickets in advance at www.centromacehualli.org, or at the event. The other evening performances are also at 7:30 p.m. Matinees are at 2 p.m. 

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