The Frontera Fund has been fighting for the rights of Hispanic communities and migrants across the Southwest of the U.S. for a number of years after the charitable network was established by the journalists Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. The Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund can thank former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for its existence as the $3.75 million the writers used to establish the fund was drawn from a financial settlement made against Maricopa County and Sheriff Arpaio for illegally imprisoning the Village Voice Media executives.
The ire of Sheriff Arpaio was drawn when members of Maricopa County’s law enforcement department set out to use a Superior Court to illegally obtain information about staff and readers of the Phoenix New Times. Larkin and Lacey had been at the heart of the campaign to shine a light of the abuses being committed by Sheriff Arpaio and his fellow members of the Maricopa County Sheriffs Department. Among the actions identified by Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin in the Phoenix New Times were the financial irregularities seen in the accounts of Maricopa County’s Sheriffs Department and the racial profiling of Hispanic members of Maricopa’s community.
In October 2007, Sheriff Arpaio and his fellow members of the law enforcement department illegally obtain a Super Court warrant calling on the Phoenix New Times to reveal details of its employees and readers, including IP addresses. Instead of fighting the warrant in court, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin decided their readers should know the truth about what they were being asked to do and made this their lead story; the response from Joe Arpaio was swift and included the arrest and detention of Larkin and Lacey for their failure to comply with the illegal order.
Despite being detained at two separate prisons, both Larkin and Lacey were freed within 24 hours and a national outcry about their arrest and the attack by Arpaio on the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution led to a lawsuit being filed detailing the illegal imprisonment of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. The $3.75 million the writers were awarded has been used to support the Hispanic groups Sheriff Joe Arpaio was targeting with his illegal racial profiling in Maricopa County.