By Corinne Murdock |
Pima County is backing an event celebrating illegal immigrants and advocating to equip them with taxpayer-funded legal defense. Pima County Attorney’s Office has sponsored the event, as well as Pima County Board of Supervisor Adelita Grijalva’s special staff assistant, Marjava Ramirez, while Tucson Mayor Regina Romero announced her support for the event on Thursday. In addition to their sponsorship, the county attorney’s office will offer information about marijuana expungement and gun locks at the event.
The “We Are Home Celebration” will begin with several hours of voter outreach for a ballot initiative to allow illegal immigrants access to public defenders for their deportation cases, also known as “universal representation”. This portion of the event will be led by PIMA County Justice For All – Justicia Para Todos. They need at least 75,000 signatures by next summer to appear on the 2022 ballot. Currently, they have around 6,000 signatures.
According to campaign manager for the ballot initiative, Martha Reyes, illegal immigrants often lack the funds for adequate representation, raising the likelihood of their deportation.
“We want to establish a legal office for undocumented folks in deportation proceedings. These are typically poor people who don’t have money to get a lawyer,” Reyes said. “They’re people who have been here for years, and the only thing they want is a better life and a better future for their kids. A simple [traffic] stop can change their whole lives.”
The ballot initiative has attracted the attention of some of Hollywood’s elite. Last month, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the director made famous by his Broadway hit, “Hamilton,” donated $25,000 to the ballot initiative.
Other sponsors for the event include Mi Familia Vota, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, Tucson Jobs with Justice, LUCHA – Living United for Change in Arizona, Arizona Center for Empowerment, International Painters Union Local 86, Corazon Arizona, AzCOSH, Moms Clean Air Force, Arizona Dream Act Coalition ADAC, Care in Action US, Jahmar International, and Healthcare Rising Arizona.
In addition to Romero, several other elected officials and tribal leaders have also endorsed the initiative. Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-03) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-02); State Representative Andres Cano (D-Tucson); Tucson City Councilmembers Lane Santa Cruz, Paul Cunningham, Paul Durham, and Richard Fimbres; Pima County Supervisor and Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) Board Member Sadie Shaw; Pascua Yaqui Tribe Chairman Robert Valencia; and Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris.
The government-backed event will take place Saturday at Mission Manor Park, from 9 am to 3 pm. The event will also offer free COVID-19 vaccinations and immigration services.