NHCSL Tour Picture rPHOENIX, AZ – Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) joined Congressman Rubén Gallego (AZ-07) and Members of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) who gathered in Phoenix to call attention to the latest facts on the ground related to family separation resulting from the Trump Administration’s so-called “zero tolerance policy” at the southern border. More than 30 Latino state lawmakers from across the country, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico came to Arizona for NHCSL’s bi-annual Executive Committee meeting earlier this month.

“I am proud to join my colleagues from across the nation in renewing our call for immediate family reunification and an end to the senseless ‘zero tolerance’ policy that has separated innocent children from their families. The family separation crisis is not over and after seeing conditions on the ground, I will go back to my state capitol and redouble efforts so that our state government ensures it is doing all it can to guarantee the safety of the children who are being detained in these facilities,” Martinez said.

During their stay in Phoenix, the legislators visited the Southwest Key child detention center and held meetings with local stakeholders working on family reunification efforts. Gallego and NHCSL members also highlighted proposed actions that need to be taken to guarantee family reunification happens in the most expedited and appropriate manner while also securing the safety of the children and families involved.

Martinez added that: “Family separation is not just a federal issue. These children are housed in facilities certified by our states and local governments and we have an oversight duty to perform. There are many actions we can take at the state and local levels to address this situation, including: providing funding so that these children have access to legal services, making sure detention facilities comply with state and local standards, and providing English Language Learners (ELL) educational services.”

Members of NHCSL’s Executive Committee also held a discussion with the Consul General of Gutaemala in Phoenix, Ambassador Oscar Padilla, and the Consul of Mexico in Phoenix, Ambassador Claudia Franco, who are working tirelessly to address the myriad of challenges these separated children face. During the session, consular officials provided key details of their interactions with the children, detention centers, the government and the community at large.

“I will not rest until our state and local governments do all we can to ensure the safety and security of innocent children whose lives have been upended and are in limbo. Some of the facilities apparently are not in bad conditions. However, even if these children were staying at a Five Star hotel, the point is that they should not have ever been separated from their parents and should not be detained as if they were criminals. This country is supposed to stand for liberty, hope and human rights. Together with my NHCSL colleagues from both sides of the aisle, we will continue to speak out and act so that this situation is resolved and never happens again in our nation,” Martinez said.

Legislators also met yesterday with advocates who are providing critical support services to the kids who are held in these detention facilities. Representatives from the ACLU of Arizona, the Florence Project, the Young Center and Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest shared their experiences in attempting to fill the gaps in the chaos that has been wrought by the cruel family separation policy enacted by the Trump Administration.

Category: News Releases

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Category: News

01312018KS5226 rSPRINGFIELD — Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) called for the termination of an officer for the Cook County Forest Preserves who failed to adequately respond to a racist verbal attack on a woman in a Cook County forest.

Video emerged this week of an incident on the Northwest Side in which a man threatens, curses at and racially attacks a woman for wearing a shirt with the Puerto Rican flag at a pavilion she had rented for a birthday party. The video shows the officer in question repeatedly ignoring her requests for him to detain the threatening individual.

“A woman being verbally abused for simply wearing a shirt with the Puerto Rican flag is another example of how racists feel emboldened in their attacks on minorities and immigrants thanks to the current administration,” Martinez said. “But beyond that, it is inexcusable that a peace officer whose main responsibility is to maintain order and protect the safety and well-being of individuals visiting the forest preserve property would ignore a call for help from someone feeling threatened, no matter their race. He should be terminated immediately.”

The video shows other officers arriving after a bystander called the police, and the man was eventually arrested and charged with assault and disorderly conduct.

“Immigrants and minorities in our country feel extremely unsafe right now, and it’s not hard to see why, when racist attacks like this are seemingly given a pass by officers of the law,” Martinez said. “This behavior is unacceptable.”

Category: News

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