Luis Chavez, My Uncle, I miss you.
At sunset on February 12th, Juntos gathered at the Aquí y Alllá mural in South Philly to create a visual statement on the destructive impact of current immigration policies on our families. The vigil was planned to coincide with President Obama’s State of the Union Address, two days ahead of Valentine’s Day, when he confirmed that immigration reform will be a priority in his second term. Of course, this political momentum has grown out of the tireless work, the demonstration of power, la lucha of our community.After cleaning up the area, our youth began lighting candles and tying “broken” hearts to the fence surrounding the mural; hearts filled with the names of loved ones in the community, who have recently been deported. Against this stunning backdrop, with huge red hearts beating against the fence, Juntos leaders spoke emotionally and powerfully about the need for an immigration reform that is both just and humane. Padre Orlando led us through a prayer and community leader Maria Serna spoke about the pain of separation as a wound that never heals, reminding us that no community should experience such suffering. Gisela Hernandez asked both the President and the public to think about the families behind the stories, and for those most affected by immigration policies to be part of the conversation about reform. After speaking boldly about how communities are exploited and kept in constant fear under the threat of deportation, Jackie Gomez asked the crowd if they would join her to continue fighting for a more inclusive immigration reform, and was met with a resounding “Si!”. Speakers called for an immediate moratorium on deportations and a reform that does not divide us; a reform that respects the dignity and contributions of all immigrants, and acknowledges the root causes of migration. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the Juntos community is organized and ready for this fight.
Thank you to all who came out in support last night! A diverse crowd of around 60 people – including Juntos community members, neighborhood residents, and other allies and supporters – were present at the event. We were treated to delicious atole and ponche, a real treat on this chilly February night, supplied by Blue Corn Alianza and Los Taquitos de Puebla.
Check out Juntos’ photos from the event, and our statement on immigration reform here.
In honor of Valentines Day, we are asking that you our show support and love to Juntos BY DONATING as we continue to fight for our community and for a fair and just immigration reform. On April 10 we will be mobilizing buses from Philadelphia and Norristown to Washington DC to make our voices heard along with thousand of other communites across the nation to demand that our community be at the forefront of the immigration reform conversation.
We hope you can support us however you can and we look forward to updating you on how immigration shapes our for our community.
We in Juntos are pleased to finally see comprehensive immigration reform be a part of the national dialogue. With Obama making a commitment to address the current broken immigration system, as well as senators from both parties delivering a framework to prioritize it, immigration reform clearly has the potential to become real for our nation this year. We believe this to be a step in the right direction. The show of power by immigrant voters and the power behind every demonstration and civil disobedience enacted by leaders in our organized communities left both parties with very little choice but to respond to our community’s demands. All of this work has catapulted immigration reform to the top of the priorities list for both Democrats and Republicans alike.
But what has been released so far by both parties have left many in our community with mixed feelings. Many of our concerns about this broken immigration system have still not been addressed by those in power. The proposed framework will not ensure an end to the unjust deportations of our family members, nor does it address the root causes of migration. Nowhere in this reform debate does either party make mention of the US foreign policies or the multi-national corporations that decimate the economy of the Global South and causes the very migration they wish to curtail. One of those policies, for example, is the free trade agreement NAFTA which allows U.S. companies to establish maquiladoras or factories on the border with Mexico. Although these sites are considered a source of employment for many, most cannot live off the poverty wage they earn of $8 per day. Families migrate for the very sake of survival; to escape war and economic devastation. We must address these issues if we want to have true immigration reform.
This administration has already invested in deporting more than 800,000 people in the last two years, spending millions of dollars to further expand the detention system, as well as the prison system. We were witness to more border-crossing deaths and human rights violations in detention centers in these past four years. All of this has happened at a time when numbers indicate a decrease in immigration. We at Juntos believe resources would be better spent in keeping our public schools open, educating our youth, and providing pathways to college and university than to spend on further enforcement. We should invest in the education of our youth and not in the deportation of our families.
Last year Juntos and many other organizations and unions worked together to fight back against state-level anti-immigrant bills that were a clear attack on the poor and working people of Pennsylvania. While E-verify was at the top of the list of bills that we fought back together, both parties and Obama have yet again cited a national E-verify system in this first attempt at framing immigration reform. E-verify has already made thousands of errors. The proposed reforms also reference allowing agricultural workers the ability to move to the front of the line as long as they commit to years of working in the fields. When labor laws granting the right to unionize were created, almost 100 years ago, it was domestic workers and agricultural workers who were excluded from those rights. So in order to move up in the line you have to commit to work in a sector that offers you very little to no protections from exploitation. Finally, we are concerned that those who do not qualify for reform will be driven further into poverty as they try to continue to provide for their families.
The stakes are high as 11 million people in our communities are still waiting for reform that allows them to live dignified and full lives free from fear. As the battle rages on for fair and humane immigration reform, we cannot allow ourselves to be blinded by a package deal that forces us to sacrifice the rights of some of our community for others. If we do not address the issue of migration and the exploitation of workers, we cannot address a broken immigration system. We look forward to more debates on this issue until we reach a place where immigration reform sits on the side of dignity and justice. Any immigration reform that is being debated must hold our families as a priority and the voices of those most affected should be at the forefront of the solution. We in Juntos will continue to fight until we see that happen
Juntos rallied for a one year moratorium on the school closings at South Philly High
Last Tuesday January 29, Juntosalong with the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS), organized a rally outside the South Philadelphia High School to protest against the Philadelphia school district plan of closing 37 public schools. After the rally hundreds of community members, youth, kids, parents and teachers gathered at the High School auditorium for a meeting organized by the school district. Dozens of affected students, children, parents and teachers shared their concerns regarding the school closings and asked the district officials, including superintendent Hite and the SRC member Wendell Pritchett, for a one year moratorium. During the testimonies the audience shared concerns such as violence, children having to walk long distances, concerns over gentrification and exposed that the $28 million that the district is claiming they will save is not a real number.
Al Dia: Latinos en South Philly piden moratorio a cierre de escuelas
CBS/KYW: Teachers,Students and Parents Gather to Protest Closing of 37 Philadelphia Schools
Al Dia: Juntos organiza movilización en contra del cierre de escuelas
On January 21, Senator Lloyd Smucker announced his plans to introduce the Pennsylvania DreamAct in the senate. We at Juntos along with members of PICC (Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition) met with the senator weeks before his announcement when he reached out to us to meet with community members around drafting the bill.
Juntos applauds Senator Smucker’s initiative on this important piece of legislation that will benefit our community and we are committed to working very closely with the Senator and his team as he drafts the bill to make sure that it is as inclusive as possible to most members of our community.
Below is a copy of Juntos’ press release with our reactions to the senator’s announcement along with recent press coverage about the issue.
Al Dia: Republicano de PA propone matrícula baja para “dreamers”
Philadelphia Inquirer: Bill would reduce college costs for undocumented youth
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