The Range just learned that Tucson immigrant rights activist Raul Ochoa was taken into custody today by five U.S. Border Patrol and three Tucson Police Department officers. Ochoa's friends and fellow activists are urging supporters to call Border Patrol at 514-4700 to demand his release. The Range has calls to Border Patrol and TPD to get more information on why Ochoa was arrested and will post updates.
UPDATE: The Range talked to a public information officer with U.S. Border Patrol. A statement will be released as soon as it is approved. Immigrant rights organization Corazon de Tucson is also expected to release a statement soon, too.
Ochoa was reportedly arrested after trying to intervene on behalf of a father of five who was stopped by TPD. Although TPD has said in the past that it doesn't call and will not Border Patrol, it in fact called Border Patrol. A march is being planned downtown tomorrow at 4 p.m. More details soon.
UPDATE: The Range just talked to Pastor Allison Harrington of the Southside Presbyterian Church who provided some information on why Ochoa was arrested today. Ochoa is a coordinator at the Southside Worker Center located at the church.
The incident occurred near Ninth Avenue and 23rd Street. As we reported earlier, Ochoa was trying to intervene on behalf of a father of five who was stopped by TPD and Border Patrol was called to the scene.
Reportedly Ochoa laid under a Border Patrol vehicle. Border Patrol responded by pepper spraying Ochoa before he was taken into custody. Currently, attorney Isabel Garcia is still trying to locate Ochoa.
The march downtown tomorrow was confirmed. It will take place at 4 p.m. in front of Tucson Police Department headquarters at 270 S Stone Ave. There will also be a press conference.
FINAL UPDATE FOR THE NIGHT: The Range received the statement and press release from Corazon de Tucson, which you can read after the jump. We will continue to follow this story tomorrow and provide updates when we receive more information. Border Patrol has yet to release a statement on Ochoa's arrest.
Press Release From Corazon de Tucson:
February 17, 2013
South Tucson — At approximately 2:30 pm this afternoon, Raúl Alcaráz Ochoa, a community organizer with the Southside Worker Center and Corazón de Tucson, placed himself under a Border Patrol (BP) vehicle to prevent
officials from detaining and deporting Tucsonan Rene Meza Huertha. He was subsequently detained by BP officials.
At approximately 1:30pm the Tucson Police Department (TPD) pulled over Meza Huertha, along with his expectant wife and six children. TPD, in direct contradiction of previous statements promising to be more "immigrant
welcoming," called Border Patrol to take Mr. Huertha into custody. Mr. Alcaráz Ochoa, a long time advocate against massive deportations in our community and country, placed himself underneath the vehicle in which Mr. Huertha was detained. At the time of his detainment, there were at least six Border Patrol Agents and four TPD officers on the scene. Border Patrol officials proceeded to repeatedly pepper spray Mr. Alcaráz Ochoa, who suffers from asthma, before dragging him out, handcuffing him, and taking him into custody.
Corazón de Tucson and the Southside Worker Center are calling for a protest and press conference tomorrow, Monday, February 18 at 4:00pm outside the Tucson Police Department at 270 S. Stone Ave. They are demanding the immediate release without charges, of both Raúl Alcaráz Ochoa and Rene Meza Huertha. Furthermore, they demand an end to all deportations and to stop the assault on families by police and Border Patrol. They call for an immediate halt of the cooperation between Tucson Police Department and Border Patrol. As Alma Hernandez of
Corazón de Tucson, who herself has experienced detention and separation from her three young children shared, "We must end this attack on families. Deportations and detentions are destroying our community."
For further information regarding the protest and press conference please contact: Alma Hernandez of Corazón de Tucson at (520)304-8332; Stephanie Quintana of Southside Worker’s Center at (939)579-3534