Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin: Championing the Struggle for Migrant Rights Through Their Frontera Fund
While it is true that the world is more democratized today than it has ever been, there are still many who do not have access to even the most basic human rights and freedoms. Even in the most developed nations on the globe, such as the United States, many continue to be discriminated simply for being the way that they are.
For many such individuals, their hope for justice and equality solely lies in the hands of non-profit organizations that go out of their way to advocate for their plight. One such non-profit is the American Immigration Council which has for the last few decades been engaged in assisting immigrants in the United States.
The American Immigrant Council was founded on the backdrop of America’s strong immigrant history. Based in Washington D.C., the organization is constantly engaged in efforts to shape how Americans view and act towards immigrants favorably. In addition to increasing awareness among the public, it also supports immigrants by participating in the formation of humane immigration laws and ensuring that they are enforced constitutionally.
To fulfill this broad mandate, the American Immigrant Council requires a significant amount of resources that it typically sources from likeminded individuals and organizations. Among the organization’s biggest supporters is the Frontera Fund founded by Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin.
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For long, Lacey and Larkin were ordinary citizens like you and I. The two were reputable journalists and ran their own media publications: the Phoenix New Times and Village Voice Media. However, a sudden brush with injustice drove them to become strong human, civil and migrant rights advocates.
In 2007, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were arrested on charges of violating jury secrecy laws in the county of Maricopa. Their arrest was made under the instruction of the county’s sheriff, Joe Arpaio. The two strongly maintained that their arrest was illegal as there was no evidence of wrongdoing on their part. The county attorney, Andrew Thomas soon came to this realization as well and dropped the charges against the two.
However, Lacey and Larkin could not let the blatant violation of their First Amendment Rights by Maricopa county slide. Consequently, they brought legal action against the county’s Sherriff and special prosecutor. The court ruled in favor of Lacey and Larkin by finding that the Sheriff lacked sufficient probable cause to go ahead with the arrest. Maricopa County decided to settle with the two, giving them $3.7 million. Read more: Phoenix New Times | Wikipedia and Michael Lacey | Facebook
It is this small fortune that Lacey and Larkin used to form the Frontera Fund. They envisioned the primary goal of the fund being to assist the Hispanic community residing in Arizona. Towards this goal, the fund has distributed funds to more than two dozen organizations engaged in the struggle for human and civil rights causes in Arizona and beyond such as the American Immigration Council.
As Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin assert, we are all migrants and should thus be involved in fighting for migrant rights.