This disturbing video was taken last night by Phoenix civil rights activist Sal Reza during Sheriff Joe Arpaio's latest anti-immigrant sweep in the West Valley, which is ongoing as I type. Reza witnessed two MCSO deputies, at least one of them masked, pull over a car driven by a young Hispanic woman, her two children in tow. (The guy ordering him not to film is a posse member.) The woman, one Ciria Lopez, 25, had forgotten to turn on her car lights, and this supposedly prompted the traffic halt. The stop occurred at a shopping center near the corner of Van Buren Street and Litchfield Road around 7:30 p.m.
Lopez was taken into custody, and sources tell me there's an ICE hold on her, but I have yet to confirm this. (I have inquired with ICE and am awaiting a reply.) Reza said the masked deputy offered the children a toy after he took their mother away. The masked deputy picked up the little boy, according to Reza, took him to his mom, and said, "Give a kiss to your mommy...Kiss your mommy goodbye."
How arresting moms assists Sheriff Joe in his stated goal of finding the murderers behind the numerous corpses that have been dumped in the area since 2002 is a mystery. There is one certainty though. Those crying children, who were later collected by their aunt, will never forget that ski-masked MCSO deputy for as long they live.
The video is posted to activist Dennis Gilman's YouTube channel, Humanleague002.
Ciria Lopez-Pacheco, who was arrested and separated from her children during this weekend's MCSO sweep.
UPDATE 1/12/09: Vinnie Picard, spokesman for the local ICE office, confirms that the woman currently has an ICE hold against her. According to the MCSO's records online, Ciria Lopez-Pacheco was arrested for failure to appear in court on one count of driving with a license suspended. As the undocumented cannot obtain a driver license in Arizona, I suspect she simply did not have one.
According to Lydia Guzman of the human rights organization Respect/Respeto, who is in contact with the woman's family, Lopez's two children are American citizens, born on U.S. soil. This means she has a chance to stay in the U.S. as long as she does not sign a voluntary removal, which the MCSO's 287(g) officers are likely pressuring her to do right now.
FURTHER UPDATE 1/12/09: According to El Mirage municipal court, Lopez-Pacheco had a warrant outstanding from last year in regards to an unpaid traffic violation for driving with a license suspended. The court informs me that she owes $741.37, and that if she pays it, the judge would quash the warrant. This won't do her much good in the case of the ICE hold, however.
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If Guzman is correct and the two kids are American citizens, then she might eventually have a chance to argue before an immigration judge that it would be a hardship for them if she were to be deported.
REGARDING HER HARDSHIP CLAIM: Hey, I'm no lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. But in response to poster "Immigration Attorney" below, I called some friends of mine who specialize in immigration law. They say that as long as Lopez-Pacheco doesn't sign the voluntary removal, then she has a shot at bond (in the matter of her immigration claim), and a hearing before an immigration judge where she can plead her case. According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, the American citizen children can be part of the claim. Even if she is ultimately removed, my pals tell me, the process could take up to two years.
If you follow this link to INA: ACT 240A - CANCELLATION OF REMOVAL; ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS, and read this section of the law:
b) CANCELLATION OF REMOVAL AND ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS FOR CERTAIN NONPERMANENT RESIDENTS. (1) IN GENERAL.-The Attorney General may cancel removal of, and adjust to the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, an alien who is inadmissible or deportable from the United States if the alien, (A) has been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than 10 years immediately preceding the date of such application; (B) has been a person of good moral character during such period; (C) has not been convicted of an offense under section 212(a)(2), 237(a)(2), or 237 (a)(3), subject to paragraph (5)2a/5/; and (D) establishes that removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to the alien's spouse, parent, or child, who is a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence.