Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin are two humanitarians and civil rights activists who live in Maricopa County in Arizona. They’re most noted for starting the Frontera Fund, a non-profit group that publishes stories and offers assistance in particularly to Hispanic migrant groups, though it also has been said to be an important advocate of freedom of speech and constitutional rights. Lacey and Larkin support organizations that fight for justice against unfair laws and groups that are affected by them, and those organizations include Arizona DREAM Act Coalition, Arizona Justice Project, Kino Border Initiative and Phoenix Allies For Community Health. Lacey and Larkin have a unique story that explains how they started the Frontera Fund.
Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin actually have a long history as newspaper contributors that goes way back to 1970 when they joined Village Voice Media which was then known as the New Times. Lacey was originally from New York but had moved out to Arizona when he enrolled at Arizona State University. One of the first incidents to drive his passion for humanitarian news and accurate reporting was a cartoon he saw published that mocked a student protester during the Vietnam War that he felt wrongly depicted what was actually happening. He then joined a Phoenix newspaper group known as the New Times which would later go through a series of buyouts and deals with other media groups until it eventually merged with Village Voice Media. Lacey’s friend Larkin would join the paper not long after he arrived.
Although Lacey and Larkin started out as advocates for reporting the true stories of protesters and the political culture at the time of the war, they moved on to many other topics that became hot issues in the coming years. One of their biggest interests by the 1990s and moving into the 2000s was in immigration, and they wanted to get the true stories of Mexicans coming into the country. But it was while doing these stories that Larkin and Lacy began to have clashes with then Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, one of the more controversial law enforcement figures of his time.
In 2007 Arpaio sent a special unit to arrest Larkin and Lacey for publishing information that supposedly was supposed to be silenced because it was on a subpoena. But in reality the subpoena had been illegally obtained by a corrupt district attorney and Arpaio was really attempting to silence the two journalists for writing about his corrupt detentions of migrants and discrepancies in his office’s budget. In 2013, a year after a circuit court had ruled Lacey and Larkin were wrongfully arrested, the two won a $3.7 million lawsuit for damages, and it was that money that started the Frontera Fund. Since then they have used the funds to help distressed and troubled immigrants throughout Arizona and the greater southwest.