The events leading to the Frontera Fund began in October of 2007 when Sheriff Joe Arpaio decided he had the right to take justice into his own hands in complete disregard to the law. He used a group of men he called the Selective Enforcement Unit to strike fear into the people. Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin were two men who held executive positions at the Village Voice Media who fought back. They were taken from the safety of their homes by force during the night into SUV’s that not only had Mexican license plates but windows darkened by tinting. From there they were sent to Arpaio’s jails.
The Phoenix New Times had been publishing stories about Sheriff Joe Arpaio and how he was using the Mexican immigrants for his political posturing. They spoke of his shady finances, the way he wielded his power to go after his critics, and the conditions he ignored in his jails that led to the death of inmates under his care. The newspaper refused to ignore the way inmates were mistreated, his racial profiling, and how his pursuit of Latinos defied the constitution. The arrest of Lacey and Larkin occurred because they wrote a story about the Sheriff and told the truth. The voice of the public led to Lacey and Larkin receiving their freedom less than 24 hours after their arrest with every single charge dropped.
There was a battle in the courts over the illegal arrest and detention centering on the men’s rights under the protection of the First Amendment. The final decision was handed down by the courts in 2012 when the subpoenas received by Larkin and Lacy were deemed invalid. The men had been arrested with no legal probable cause and received $3.7 million in a settlement from the illegal actions of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2013. This was when the Frontera Fund began so these men could help the Hispanic community and preserve their civil rights. The Sherriff went after specific individuals simply because they were Hispanic or had brown skin. Larkin and Lacey used their settlement to help these people who only want honest work to improve their lives.
The funds are being used to help nonprofit groups advocating for the inherent rights of Hispanics and to stop the anti-Hispanic agenda of men like the Sheriff. According to Lacey the Sheriff fostered a fear resulting in an election in 2014 where a candidate actually stated there were ISIS terrorists using Arizona as a bridge form Mexico.