This past weekend, dozens of Arizonans shut down a major highway leading to a Donald Trump rally in political protest of his divisive stances, blocking supporters for several hours from attending his event. The direct action was coordinated in conjunction with a protest in New York City outside Trump Towers which was attended by over a thousand New Yorkers.
In Arizona, a handful of demonstrators were arrested including Jacinta Gonzalez, who had locked her neck with a U-lock to a truck blocking a portion of the highway. As she and several others were processed, everybody else was released within hours. Despite being a US citizen, Ms. Gonzalez was held overnight, transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and questioned about her immigration status.
Gonzalez works for the immigrant rights organization Mijente, and originally told ThinkProgress that her white colleagues were released around midnight Saturday night, “but as a Latina with a Latina surname, I was the only person interviewed by ICE, and they placed an immigration detainer against me.” In that interview she reportedly refused to answer questions to ICE about her citizenship, invoking her constitutional right to remain silent.
“Because I asserted by civil rights, I was retaliated against,” Gonzales said, referring to agents detaining her overnight. “I’m a fierce believer in the Constitution, and I don’t believe they have the right to interview people without a lawyer present. It’s extremely alarming, and it even violates ICE’s own policy. They are not supposed to put a immigration hold on people convicted of non-violent offenses.”
As a result of her defiance, on Sunday morning Gonzalez was handcuffed, shackled, and loaded onto a van headed for a remote ICE field office. She was then fingerprinted, which matched her citizenship records, and promptly released. Nonetheless, the trauma of being profiled, detained, and an outright denial of her basic civil liberties over a nonviolent violation of the law had nonetheless impacted her experiences, and what she perceives to be a culture of xenophobia being inflamed by Trump’s rhetoric.
She spoke about the experience in a video uploaded Sunday afternoon.
Doug Matteson at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to ThinkProgress that Gonzalez was charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor for her role in blocking traffic and refusing the official dispersal notice. He denied that she was profiled by immigration agents.
“Everyone that enters Maricopa County Jail, whether it’s for spitting on the sidewalk or for murder, you are seen by ICE,” he said. “They interview everyone — male, female, black, white — and for some reason they put a hold on her. They always operate in our jail facility. It’s not like she was singled out.”
“The profiling I experienced shows what Trump is trying to promote,” Gonzalez told ThinkProgress. “We are really alarmed not only by Trump’s campaign but the space he’s opened up for other people to spew hatred and implement racist policies.”