On Tuesday, an Arizona judge handed immigration and reproductive rights activist Alejandra Pablos an order of deportation almost one year after she was arrested during a protest in Virginia. But, with resistance running through her veins, neither she nor her community plan to stop fighting.
Later the same day, a petition sponsored by Keep Ale Free calling on Gov. Doug Ducey to grant a pardon for an 8-year-old DUI arrest that placed her into deportation proceedings began circulating throughout social media, already garnering 17,180 signatures in three days. It’s just 8,420 short of its 25,600 goal.
“Getting a pardon from the Governor is [Pablos’] last chance to stay in the U.S. with her family and community,” the petition reads. “Alejandra has been a staunch advocate for immigration reform and criminal justice reform, and shares America’s vision of seeing our communities thrive. We need more leaders like Alejandra here and not separated from her family and loved ones.”
While immigration falls under federal jurisdiction, supporters are hoping a gubernatorial pardon would remove Judge Thomas Michael O’Leary’s reason for deportation.
In 2013, three years after her arrest, Pablos, 33, was apprehended at a routine check-in with her probation officer. She spent the next two years in detention at an Arizona immigration facility.
“I’ve taken responsibility for my mistakes, but when is it enough? I’ve completed my sentences, I’ve turned my life around and transformed myself into someone who works every day to help others — but when is it enough,” the Nogales, Mexico-born, Arizona-raised legal resident, who is out on bond, told the Washington Post.
She said her time in detention changed her forever, leaving her with a yearning to help others in similar circumstances she’s since overcome.
For the past two years, she’s done just that. Relocating to the Washington, DC area, Pablos has worked at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, where she has organized rallies and trainings on reproductive justice, immigration rights and how the two intersect for immigrant women in the country.
It was during a January peaceful protest against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids outside the Department of Homeland Security in Virginia that Pablos was arrested again, reliving a nightmare she thought was behind her. While Pablos was soon released, she was once more apprehended during a routine check-in with ICE back home in Arizona and detained for 43 days.
This time, Pablos felt she was targeted for being vocal about immigration, believing agents were trying to “intimidate us and silence us,” claims ICE officials have denied.
On Tuesday, when Pablos was petitioning for asylum, fearing threat of violence for her activist work should she be forced to return to Mexico — the country she left as a child — she faced similar doubt. O’Leary, unconvinced that her safety was in danger in the southern country, denied her request, revoked her green card and ordered her deportation.
In addition to urging Ducey to pardon the activist through the petition, a power the governor has only utilized once in his four years in office, Pablos says she also plans to appeal the judge’s decision.
“La lucha sigue,” she said.
Sign the petition here.