Updated: Tucson Activist Raul Alcaraz Ochoa Arrested After Trying to Prevent Detention

A Border Patrol agent handcuffs Raúl Alcaraz Ochoa after he tried to prevent the detention of an alleged undocumented immigrant nearby the workers center where he organizes in the South Side of Tucson. Courtesy of Sean Arce

A  Border Patrol agent handcuffs Raúl Alcaraz Ochoa after he tried to prevent the detention of an alleged undocumented immigrant nearby the workers center where he organizes in the South Side of Tucson. Courtesy of Sean Arce

UPDATE (7 p.m. EST):

Border Patrol confirmed that Raúl Alcaraz Ochoa was released with no charges pressed against him, but gave no information on René Huerta, the father of six that was arrested with the Tucson activist.

“The Office of the United States Attorneys declined to prosecute Mr. Alcaraz,” Border Patrol Andy Adame said. “At this moment, there is no information on Mr. Meza Huerta.”

A rally and press event were scheduled for 4 p.m. outside the Tucson Police Department.

More information to come.

UPDATE (3 p.m. EST): 

Border Patrol just confirmed that Raúl Alcaraz Ochoa will be released shortly. The conditions of his released are still unknown.

There is no word yet on whether René Huerta will be released too.

A messager in the Facebook page for today’s rally and press conference says that Alcaraz Ochoa will be present during the rally.

From the Facebook Page:

We just received a call from Raúl Al-qaraz Ochoa he will be present at the rally today!!!!!! Come out and let Tucson and the country know what kind of world we want to live in. Freedom for René and all political prisoners!!! We don’t know if Raul’s charges have been dropped and to our knowledge René remains in custody. Come out! We will not be silenced!!! We will continue with the updates.

UPDATE (1 p.m. EST):

Corazón de Tucson y el Centro de Trabajadores de Southside will hold a press conference during the rally planned for today at 4 p.m. outside the Tucson Police Department to protest the arrest of an activist that tried to prevent the detention of an alleged undocumented immigrant.

Border Patrol agents in Tucson arrested Raúl Alcaraz Ochoa after he put his body underneath a vehicle to prevent the detention of  René Meza Huerta, who these organizations identified as a father of six children.

“[We] are calling for the release of both Raul Alcaraz Ochoa and Rene Meza Huertha without charges. Furthermore, they call for an end to all deportations and to stop the assault on families by police and Border Patrol. They call for an immediate hault of the cooperation between Tucson Police Department with Border Patrol,” reads a statement posted on Facebook.

Here’s Corazón de Tucson’s press release with details of what happened:

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 Huerta.

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. Huerta 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

Andy Adame, a spokesperson for the Border Patrol, replied to our questions with only the following statement:

“On Feb. 17, Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents responded to a request for assistance by the Tucson Police Department. At the scene, a Mexican male, who is a Lawfully Admitted Permanent Resident, interfered by lying beneath a Border Patrol vehicle after agents took several subjects into custody for being illegally present in the United States. The man that interfere was subsequently arrested by Border Patrol agents after failing to respond to repeated warnings and refusing to move from beneath the vehicle.”

This is original blog post.

A rally outside the Tucson Police Department is set to take place at 4 p.m. this afternoon to protest the detention of Raúl Alcaraz Ochoa, a well-known local activist that tried to prevent the arrest of an alleged undocumented immigrant.

A witness told this blog that Alcaraz Ochoa, an organizer with Tucson’s South Side Workers Center, had been pepper-sprayed and handcuffed after he put his body underneath a Border Patrol vehicle.

“Raúl got under the truck after Tucson police detained a father of five children and later called the Border Patrol,” Sean Arce said. “At least a 12 Border Patrol agents and 12 Tucson Police officers were there this afternoon.”

Arce, who used to be the director of the Mexican-American Studies Program at the Tucson School District, said the agents later poured water on Ochoa’s face and handcuffed him.

“They sprayed him very well, that’s why they were pouring water on him. They later walked him into a border patrol truck and took off,” he said. “Children and other activists saw what happened there. It was a very traumatizing experience.”

Arce snapped several photos that started to circulate online Sunday afternoon, calling the attention of activists and allies of the undocumented immigrants rights movement.

The National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) and DREAMActivist set up an online petition to gather support for Alcaraz Ochoa.

In their message, these organizations identify the other man arrested as René.

From NIYA’s Facebook page:

Immigrant rights activist, Raul Ochoa, was arrested on Feb 17, in Tucson AZ, when he tried to stop Border Patrol from detaining Rene, a father of five, who had been pulled over by Tucson Police. Raul and Rene were both detained and remain in custody of Border Patrol. Rene is the father of five children, who miss him and want nothing more than to have their dad back. Raul is a long time activist, and was one of the young people who sat inside Sen. McCain’s office in 2010, during the fist civil disobedience action led by undocumented youth to demand the immediate passage of the DREAM Act.

Other organizations are also urging people to call the Border Patrol directly. On its Facebook page, the DRM Dream Action Coalition posted the following message:

Friend and organizer was detained in Tucson by the border patrol. We really need you all again. He has been working for families to stay together for such a long time, and now it’s time to help HIM out. Can you call Border Patrol and tell him to let Raul Alcaraz go: (520)514-4700 (520)748-3041 (520)748-3113.

Pastor Allison Harrington of the Southside Presbyterian Church, where the workers center is located, gave Tucson Weekly’s The Range details of what happened.

From Tucson Weekly:

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 news outlet also says that although the Tucson Police Department has said in the past that it doesn’t cooperate with the Border Patrol, the TPD officers in fact called the federal agency.

This kind of collaboration is a regular practice, according to Arce.

“This is an everyday occurrence here in Tucson,” he said. “Since SB1070 went into effect, this type detentions, these apprehensions are commonplace.”

The Border Patrol in Tucson hadn’t replied to our email as this blog post was being published.


About Gustavo Martínez Contreras

was born in Texas, brewed in Mexico City, seasoned in the Mexico-United States border, aged walking the streets of Philadelphia. He had a short-lived stint eating grits, fried chicken, and peaches in Atlanta. He later became a béisbol writer for El Diario de Nueva York. He has written about immigrant communities in English, Spanish, and some Spanglish. Although he does not have a shelf full of awards, Gustavo has received thank you notes and hugs from people who have trusted him with their stories. His work has appeared in Voices of New York, El Diario/La Prensa, Dallas’ Al Día, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Philadelphia Weekly, Radio Bilingüe, Latina Lista, Spot.us, among others. He is currently pursuing a master's degree at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
This entry was posted in Arizona, Immigration, Immigration Reform, Indignados, Latino issues, migración, politica, politics, Reforma migratoria, Social Justice and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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