Larkin & Lacey Frontera Fund: Monitoring and Promoting Human Rights in Arizona

The founding of Larkin & Lacey Frontera Fund by Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin to champion for and protect the rights of immigrants and First Amendment rights especially in Arizona added to the ever growing list of human rights advocacy groups not only in the state but globally.

While it is primarily a fund dedicated to supporting human rights advocacy groups championing for the causes the founders hold dear to their hearts, other nongovernmental human rights groups are actively engaged in the monitoring and championing for human rights.

Moreover, some of these organizations have a global outreach unlike the Frontera Fund, which primarily focuses on Arizona. Consequently, they have become powerful and very influential.

One such influential international human rights advocacy organization is Human Rights Watch: a Nobel Peace Prize-winning international organization dedicated to protecting basic human rights.

Founded in 1978 by Robert L. Bernstein, the organization was first named as Helsinki Watch as it primarily dedicated its resources to monitoring the adherence with the Helsinki Accords by the Soviet Union. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/potmsearch/detail/submission/6427427/Jim_Larkin

However, following conflicts in the Central America, Africa, Asia and Middle East it expanded its operations to these areas through various committees. It is these committees that came together under one umbrella body in 1988 to form the present day Human Rights Watch.

The organization’s activities are molded around the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has seen it expand its monitoring, researching and reporting on other human rights beyond the basic human rights. This includes fighting against harassment of writers, gender discrimination, torture and corruption, and protecting child soldiers and the right to abortion among others.

Frontera Fund: A Settlement to Settle First the Immigrant War in Arizona

For several years, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County had waged a spirited war against immigrants especially Latinos from Mexico. He not only illegally detained them; some of those detainees died in the cells the sheriff managed under unclear circumstances.

He did not only engage in Latino-war mongering; he misappropriated public funds and abused his office. When journalists Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin wrote exposures, the sheriff’s friends issued illegal grand jury subpoenas that violated the journalists’ First Amendment rights.

The journalists were whisked away in the middle of the night by armed deputies and were later ordered to reveal the identities of the editors and readers of the exposures. The subpoenas also included revealing the browsing history and IP addresses of the readers.

The public outcry and outrage that followed did not end at the release of the journalists a few hours later. They filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County to register their outrage at the blatant attempt at infringing on their First Amendment rights. Read more: Phoenix New Time

After several years arguing out their case, cofounders of Phoenix New Times where they published the stories were awarded $3.75 million in settlement fee by Maricopa County.

They dedicated the funds to protecting immigrants rights including championing against the building of the Mexican-U.S border wall as well as protecting First Amendment rights in Arizona.