Civil, Human, and Migrant Rights: The Frontera Fund

On October 18th, 2007, two Arizona based journalists, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, were detained from their homes in the middle of the night in Maricopa County by the County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Co-founders of Phoenix New Times and Village Voice Media, Lacey and Larkin ran two of Maricopa County’s more prominent alternative newspapers and maintained a wide viewership.

Despite their First Amendment rights, however, Lacey and Larkin were arrested after publishing sensitive information regarding the residence of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and a subsequent subpoena issued by the County to have information about the Phoenix New Times’ viewers released.

While Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin’s actions in publishing these things was illegal under Arizona State Law and both journalists were charged with obstruction of justice, Lacey and Larkin were astounded at the nature of the subpoena.

The grand jury subpoena demanded that the identity of citizens who read Phoenix New Times’ articles about Sheriff Arpaio online be revealed. Instead of complying with the subpoena, Lacey and Larkin filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County. The case eventually prevailed in the United States Court of Appeals for the ninth circuit where a $3.75 million settlement was reached in Lacey and Larkin’s favor.

Using the substantial settlement, Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin decided to further champion the ongoing battle for American civil rights specifically, and human rights in general, by establishing the Lacy and Larkin Frontera Fund. According to the Frontera Fund website, “The Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund will support groups that advocate for civil, human, and migrant rights as well as freedom of speech and civic participation throughout Arizona including on ‘la línea fronteriza’ – the Mexican border.”

Organizations that the Frontera Fund has supported include, but are not limited to, the American Immigration Council, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, the Arizona Justice Project, Aliento, the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition, the Kino Border Initiative, the Owl and Panther/Hopi Foundation, the Young Center, and the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project.

In the Frontera Fund’s support for the ACLU of Arizona, for example, Lacey and Larkin helped further the organizations’ mission of challenging unconstitutional state laws in Arizona that target minorities.

In the Fund’s support for the Kino Border Initiative, Lacey and Larkin helped the initiative continue to serve meals and provide essential medical first aid and clothing to migrants and deportees at the Mexican-American border in Nogales.

In the Fund’s support for the Young Center, Lacey and Larkin have also sought to help the organization’s mission of advocating for the rights and needs of immigrant children otherwise treated as adults without representation during deportation proceedings.

Likewise, the Frontera Fund has supported the rehabilitation and integration of refugees arriving in the United States through the support that it has provided to organizations like the Owl and Panther/Hopi Foundation.

Throughout the support that the Frontera Fund has provide to dozens of civil, human, and migrant rights organizations within Arizona, Michael and Jim  have continued their fight against the racial profiling and infringement of civil and human rights that entities like the Maricopa Sheriff’s department continue to inflict on the people.