Residents Sit-In at US Border Patrol Checkpoint, Call on Rep. Grijalva to Support Its Permanent Closure

The immigration enforcement agency sides against borderlands residents with a massive show of force. Residents hold public hearing calling on DHS for removal of all inland immigration checkpoints.

AMADO, AZ—On Wednesday, May 27th, approximately 100 Arivaca residents and supporters gathered at the Border Patrol checkpoint on Arivaca Road to hold a public hearing demanding the removal of the checkpoint. Community members called on US Congressman Grijalva to deliver on his promise to hold a federal hearing on the issue before Department of Homeland Security officials.Arivaca residents and supporters gathered at 10am and peacefully proceeded to the checkpoint to hold the hearing. Upon entering the checkpoint, they were met with a blockade of armed Border Patrol agents who used physical force, attempting to move the residents back. Despite this intimidation, protesters held their ground and sat-in while community members held a public hearing calling for the removal of the checkpoint.

At the event, local business leaders, parents, seniors, youth and experts cited widespread abuse and harassment, rights violations, racial profiling, and economic deterioration as direct results of the checkpoints placed on all outbound roads from the small rural community. Local business owner Maggie Milinovich said, “our reverse-gated community is a barrier to tourists…this checkpoint is choking our community.” Carlotta Wray spoke about her experiences being racially-profiled by Border Patrol, saying, “because of our brown skin, me and most of my family have to reach into our pockets for ID at the checkpoint to prove that we’re legal citizens in our own town, I’m sick of it.” Patty Miller said of the ongoing military-style presence of Border Patrol in the Arivaca community, “it’s like a war zone all the time.”

Protesters called on US Representative Raul Grijalva to deliver on his promise to hold a Congressional Hearing on the negative impact of the Border Patrol checkpoint. Community members displayed a large banner reading, “Rep. Grijalva: When Is Our Hearing?” Arivaca resident Jack Driscoll said, “it was inspiring to have Grijalva’s support, now we need him to keep his word and give us our hearing.”

At the same time as the Arivaca protest, communities across the state were holding demonstrations against border militarization in Bisbee, Ajo, Patagonia, and on the Tohono O’odham Nation in a regional day of action. See the coalition press release for more details.

The sit-in lasted for several hours and ended in a showdown with Border Patrol grabbing and shoving back peaceful community members and supporters. Pima County Sheriffs stood at the ready armed with crowd dispersal weapons. Community members were appalled at this treatment, “this is a metaphor for the threat of violence we face daily as border residents at the hands of the Border Patrol—this is why we want the checkpoint gone,” said Arivaca resident Sophie Smith.