Immigration arrests spark anger toward TPD, Border Patrol

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Photo: Video by kgun9.com

Immigration arrests spark anger toward TPD, Border Patrol

CREATED Feb 18, 2013 - UPDATED: Feb 19, 2013

Reporter: Maggie Vespa
Web Producer: Mekita Rivas

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Immigration rights activists call it "a grave injustice."

Police say they're doing their job.

Either way, the arrests of two men, an incident sparked by Arizona's controversial SB 1070, has both sides speaking out. 

Organizers of an emotional rally that took place outside TPD headquarters Monday night say they're standing up for a community under attack.

"A family is torn apart any time a worker is put in detention!"

This incident comes after a traffic stop on the southside that ended with two men being handcuffed by Border Patrol agents. One of those men was Raul Alcaraz Ochoa.

9OYS reporter Maggie Vespa asked Alcaraz, “What was going through your mind when all of this was happening?”

“I saw in this family, my family,” he said.

Alcaraz said that around 2:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon, he happened upon a familiar scene.

A car is pulled over and its occupants are Hispanic. TPD and Border Patrol are working together. The end result is a father, Rene Meza Huerta, being ripped away from his wife and five children.

"His children were crying in the background asking for their father to return to them, and that's when I decided to go ahead of them and get beneath the vehicle of the Border Patrol,” Alcaraz said. 

After both men are taken into custody, Meza Huerta is arrested for being an undocumented immigrant and Alcaraz Ochoa is arrested for interfering.

Twenty-four hours later, the outrage is obvious. But according to the TPD, there's more. Mid-demonstration, officers offer the media their take.

"What this citizen saw is two young children being placed in the trunk of a vehicle,” said Lieutenant Fabian Pacheco.

When that 9-1-1 call came in around 2:30 p.m., officers soon pulled the vehicle over at the corner of 24th & 9th.

Inside, there were two adults and five kids, two in the trunk. The driver, Huerta, is found to be driving on a suspended license.Citing Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB 1070, officers contact border patrol.

As it turns out, Huerta is in the country illegally. Lieutenant Pacheco says that for police the goal is to follow the law -- not to rip apart families.

"They day in and day out do an excellent job for the citizens of this community,” he said.  “To be accused of things like that, it's very insulting."

9OYS also reached out to U.S. Customs & Border Patrol's Tucson sector who responded with a written statement.

It states in part that Alcaraz was arrested because, "after failing to respond to repeated warnings and refusing to move from beneath the vehicle."    

They did not address Meza Huerta's arrest. Sources tell 9OYS he remains in custody.

In regards to Meza Huerta’s having a suspended license, TPD tells 9OYS that doesn’t mean he ever had a license.

TPD tells 9OYS that he never had one, but was caught once before for driving without a license.

Basically, TPD says that puts a person in the suspended license category.