Last Thursday afternoon, five Arizonans testified before a congressional panel on the likely effects of SB 1070, the Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigration. U.S. Rep Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona) co-hosted the hearing. It focused in part on the controversial immigration sweeps conducted by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, thereby presenting the curious spectacle of a Tucson-area congressman investigating a Phoenix-area sheriff. The panel heard testimony from Catherine Figueroa (in video). The young girl told the panel that Arpaio's deputies arrested and jailed her parents for three months. "I would also have bad dreams that the deputies would take my aunt and family and me to jail. I'm still afraid of deputies." Figeuroa went on to say, tearfully, "Please help us. Children don't know what to do without their parents."
Phoenix area businesswoman and immigration activist Alma Mendoza testified SB 1070 would discourage women from reporting crimes. She's a former victim of domestic violence. Celia Alejandra, a working mother of three, testified about a workplace raid carried out by Arpaio's deputies. Her jaw was broken in the raid. Alejandra told them, "Please don't close your ears. Don't close your eyes. Don't close your mouth. It's true what's happening in Arizona. We are being discriminated against."
Silvia Rodriguez also spoke to the panel about the effects of Arpaio's (and his masked goons) controversial racial profiling suppression sweeps. Rodriguez was only two years old when her parents brought her to Phoenix, legally; however they overstayed their visa. Her parents, fearing they would be caught in one of the arpaio's raids, left the state, leaving Rodriguez to finish her college education by herself. She is a straight A student who has been accepted for an advance degree by Harvard. She is pushing for passage of the Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for students in her situation.
Sylvia Herrera, who has a Ph.D. in education, submitted several videos and written testimonies from people who have had their civil and human rights violated during Arpaio's (and his goons) suppression sweeps. Herrera called on the Department of Justice to complete its 15-month long investigation of Arpaio (and his goons) for their outrageous racial profiling.
Earlier this week, Sheriff Arpaio told local news affiliates that while the effects of immigration enforcement on families are sad, the same can be said about enforcement of other laws. He pointed out that his jail is filled with people separated from their families for breaking laws other than those related to immigration. Apparently he doesn't care about the heartbreak he causes so many families, as can be attested to in the fact he has lost Maricopa County over $40M in lost civil suits for wrongful deaths and other violations in his tent city facilities.
Heartless Governor Brewer, up for her 1st election as Governor, said the potential effects on families are no reason to back down on immigration enforcement. She advocates that (Latino) citizens concerned about being separated from their families should return with them together.
Representative Raul Grijalva graciously co-hosted Thursday's Congressional hearing along with fellow Democrats Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Gwen Moore of Wisconsin.