Larkin & Lacey Frontera Fund: Towards Immigrants Rights Advocacy

The Larkin & Lacey Frontera Fund, founded in 2012, joined an ever growing list of human rights advocacy organizations. Over the years, organizations advocating for human rights have not only grown in numbers; they have also become powerful entities with strong influence in policymaking.

The scope of their operational mandate has increased significantly. Some of these organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Human Rights Commission have grown in stature to become supranational entities with offices, chapters and member organizations across various continents. Read more: Phoenix New Time and Village Voice Media | Wikipedia

These organizations are dedicated to ensuring that leaders uphold basic human rights while also protecting the rights of special interest groups such as immigrants whose numbers have increased globally.

Whether regional, international, national or local, human rights advocacy groups’ power and influence in the modern global community will increase over the years with more people embracing them. In war- regions and conflict areas, these organizations have played a key role in pushing for peace while also monitoring and reporting on human rights situations in such areas.

However, their influence is not hinged solely on their size or the integral roles they play; their financial muscles have increased significantly. These organizations rely on donations from governments and well wishers, which can be individuals or funds such as Larkin & Lacey Frontera Fund established by Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey.

Towards Protecting Immigrants and First Amendment Rights in Arizona

The illegal detention of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin in October 2007 by deputies from Maricopa County under the orders of Sheriff Joe Arpaio set off a chain of events that ended with the formation of the Larkin & Lacey Frontera Fund.

The midnight arrest of the two journalists who were whisked away in vehicles with tinted windows and Mexican license plates turned into national news considering that the grand jury subpoenas used for the arrests were illegally issued and had illegal demands. The ensuing public outcry saw the journalists released hours later.

However, Lacey and Larkin were convinced that the arrests and the subsequent issuance of subpoenas amounted to infringement on their First Amendment rights. They were convinced that Sheriff Joe Arpaio was retaliating against their critical news articles and exposures they had published in one of the media houses that highlighted his misdeeds as a public officer.

The exposures covered, among other issues, mistreatment of Latinos, abuse of office and racial profiling of Mexican immigrants by the sheriff. The subpoenas breached the First Amendment rights of the readers, editors and writers of the exposures as the grand jury demanded that their identity be revealed.

After several years along the corridors of justice, Maricopa County was eventually found guilty of breaching the rights of the journalists. Larkin and Lacey were awarded over $3.7 million in settlement, which they used to found the Frontera Fund headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. The fund is dedicated to protecting immigrant and First Amendment rights.

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