Protesters march on Fourth Avenue Jail

Protesters gather at the Fourth Avenue Jail run by Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. (Kevin Palacios/DD)

Puente Human Rights Movement and other local political organizations descended upon the Fourth Avenue Jail late afternoon Monday to protest Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“We are asking (Maricopa County) Sheriff (Paul) Penzone to take ICE out of the Fourth Avenue Jail. Under the new administration we can’t afford the Trump administration to capture our people and Penzone is helping him do that by having ICE in his facilities,” Maria Castro, a Puente organizer said.

The march started at the Arizona State Capitol at 5 p.m. and made its way down to the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail. As protesters made their way down Van Buren Street, chants of “Ni Uno Mas” (Not one More) and “Shut Down ICE” could be heard echoing between the downtown Phoenix buildings. Several people spoke about their time in Fourth Avenue Jail and the hardships of being deported.

“I’ve been arrested before and I’ve seen how immigration officers act inside,” Castro said. “It’s completely dehumanizing.”

In November 2016, Penzone defeated long-time sheriff Joe Arpaio, ending his 24-year tenure.

Arpaio has been known as “America’s toughest sheriff”. He is well known for starting “Tent City,” the outdoor jail site for DUI offenders, making inmates wear pink underwear and his firm stance against undocumented immigrants.

In early February, Penzone initially stated that MCSO would no longer comply with ICE requests to hold inmates who were discovered to be undocumented. However, a week later Penzone revised his statement, saying that ICE agents could enter the jail to take custody of inmates for federal detention.

“I think that it’s important for me to be here and be a voice for people who are at home who might be scared to be here and join,” ASU student Jessica Fitch said. “I hope to call in more people and have them see that you don’t have to be scared to be here. We are all a community and we are all going to help and support each other.”

In 2016, per ICE Immigration Removals, slightly over 240,000 people were deported back to their countries of origin, 42 percent of whom were non-criminal immigration violators.

Jacqueline Rayos, daughter of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos who was deported following a dentist appointment, spoke once protesters arrived at the Fourth Avenue Jail.

“If we all unite, there will be a possibility that things will change,” Rayos said.

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