by: John Rodriguez
In Eloy, Arizona back in May while driving to get paper plates for her daughter’s third birthday party a mother and wife was pulled over and eventually thrown into an immigration jail. Pulled over for a minor traffic violation Araceli Mercado Sanchez, age 22, found herself being handcuffed, taken into custody, and threaten with the possibility of deportation. Like Mercado there many Latinos in Arizona who could face similar fates if a law goes in effect within Arizona. What is different about Mercado is that she is the wife of an American Soldier.
Mercado’s arrest is just an example of what could happen to other citizens or non-citizens of the United States if the U.S. Supreme Court were to accept arguments for allowing Arizona’s strictest immigration to go into effect. The law known as SB 1070 is a law which would allow police enforcers to approach anyone they believe are immigrants and request that they provide proof of residency in order to show they are legal citizens. Many opponents find this law goes against democracy and promotes racial profiling, meanwhile proponents believe this law would solve one of the country’s issues.
While Mercado admits she has been living in the country illegally, her parents brought her into the country as a child, there was no reason for her arrest to occur in the first place. According to Mercado’s attorney Richard Green, Mercado may not have had a driver’s license or a social security card there was no reason to arrest since she committed only a minor infraction and has no criminal record.
Mercado’s attorney’s also notes that Mercado had her military spouse ID card which should have kept from being arrested or placed in a immigration jail since she had legal identification. Mercado’s husband Private First Class Guillermo Garcia was helpless to come to his wife’s aid during her arrest since he is stationed in Germany, according to Green Garcia was “freaking out” since he couldn’t be with his wife during this terrifying time.
According to Green, Mercado was wrongly arrested since the Arizona law officers who arrested her violated a policy put into place in 2010 by the Obama Administration. According to “Parole in Place” the policy allows immediate family members of military personnel to complete the process of becoming legal residents without ever leaving the country. Mercado was in the process of becoming a legal citizen at the time of her arrest.
During her arrest, Mercado was transferred to two different prisons were she was treated like a convicted prisoner where she was given minimal food and water she described as repugnant. “I could have never imagined where I was,” said Mercado discussing her experience in custody, “I couldn’t pee. I ended up having blood in my urine.” She also describes how her cellmates were handling the situation saying how one cellmate suffered from facial paralysis from the stress and another was simply “rocking back and forth. Everyone was so scared.”
Beside Mercado, her family also suffered from the experience. “Everyone was so scared,” She said, Mercado also disclosed how she had to comfort her daughter who was terrified as to where her mother was. Meanwhile, Mercado’s husband was “very upset about everything,” that happened to her but is “glad its over.” Like her husband, Mercado is also “glad it’s over. I’m glad I’m home, I’m glad I get to wake up with my daughter.” Mercado is expected to stay in the country without any more incidents.
An official from the Immigration Customs Enforcement–also known as ICE–said that Mercado had been sent into their custody from U.S Customs and Border Patrol but was released once it was confirmed she was married to a member of the U.S Army and had no criminal record. ICE also claims that it is there duty to make “smart and effective immigration enforcement…committed to ensuring that its limited resources are focused on the removal of those who pose a threat to public safety such as criminal aliens and national threats,” and for some reason Mercado fell under one of those categories.
The recent actions taken by Arizona State to combat the issues surrounding immigration is seen as a major violation against civil rights since it condones racial profiling, people who ‘look’ like immigrants or typically Latino are pulled over for simply meeting stereotypical characteristics.
Currently this action against immigration is viewed as the strictest immigration law in U.S history. More citizens like Mercado will face similar encounters in Arizona if they’ve lived in the country since they were a child or just for a few years, the face being treated and labeled a criminal for simply appearing to be a suspected immigrant.