Philadelphia Immigrant Youth Recognize DACA’s 5th Anniversary: Call For Defense of It & A Congressional Investigation of ICE

On August, 15th the city of Philadelphia held a commemorative event recognizing the 5 years since DACA was implemented and how it has impacted young people in the city.
Our Community Organizer, Olivia Vazquez, who is a DACA recipient herself, was invited to speak alongside other immigrant youth from around the region.

In her speech which can be found below in full, she speaks about the importance of recognizing the youth-led movement that made DACA a reality, the importance to defend it and other programs under attack by the current administration, including Temporary Protected Status, as well as a call for a congressional investigation on the rogue practices of Immigration & Customs Enforcement.

 

Good morning everybody,

My name is Olivia Vazquez. I am a community organizer at Juntos as well as a DACA recipient. I came from Mexico when I was 10 years old to join my mother here in Philadelphia.

I first want to start by saying that I am proud to be here with so many amazing immigrant leaders, the young people who made DACA a reality with their direct actions back in 2012, the immigrant community of Philadelphia who led us in ending the use of ICE Holds, as well as our Mayor, Jim Kenney, who was a vital ally in making this policy happen; all examples of how standing up and fighting back are the best defense we have against oppression and hate.

I applied for DACA three years ago and what it has done for me is make me no longer look over my shoulder, worried that I might be deported one day. But I still worry about my family, my mom, my uncle, my community, people I love who sometimes get lost in the conversation, most who have never had the opportunity to rest because they are always at risk. As people of color I worry, because what Charlottesville, VA showed us is that racism is alive in 2017 and we are all at risk of losing what is most important to us.

Today is 5 years that DACA has been in effect and I urge us to defend it because we fought so hard to make it a reality, but we cannot stop there. We must protect all of our community. ICE is a rogue agency. An agency that has been taken off its leash by this administration to do whatever it takes to boost the number of people detained and deported, with no regard for their human rights. An agency whose leader has said that “no population is off the table.” when it comes to deportations and an agency who has continued to use unconstitutional practices like illegal car stops and fingerprint machines to terrorize us. This is why we must hold ICE accountable, we must call for a congressional investigation on ICE today.

Many people will call us Dreamers, young people who dream of a better future despite all the odds stacked against us. But we cannot forget that the real Dreamers have always been our parents. They wanted nothing more but to give us an opportunity for something better than what they had. They are also Dreamers. So if you are here today to defend the Dreamers and to defend DACA, I ask that you defend all of us by also stopping ICE and their rogue tactics.”

Congratulations to our DACA scholarship winners!

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DACA applications can be a long and difficult process, especially when going about it alone. So this past Sunday at Juntos we held a legal clinic to help young people complete their applications. With the support of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), we had trained volunteers and pro-bono attorneys available to help people get screened for DACA, start their applications, and complete them.

DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a way for undocumented young people who came into the United States before June 15, 2007 and were under 16 when they came to get a temporary work permit and protection from deportation. Applications cost $465.

The PFT also donated three full scholarships for the young people who participated in the clinics, which were raffled out after the clinic. Below are the three lucky winners:

Annaline Cerón

Ricardo Alejandro Perez
María Teodoro

Felicidades!

If you or someone you know needs help on their DACA application, contact us at 215-218-9079.

Juntos Open House, A Celebration with Community and Allies

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Juntos’ Open House; A Celebration with Community and Allies

On Sunday Oct. 4th, 2015  Juntos officially celebrated our new space with an Open House for community and allies. Our move in August to our new office marked a historic moment for Juntos’ and we chose to celebrate with the people who made it happen. And during the Open House we were proud to raffle off three full DACA scholarships for young people who have taken the last few months to apply for DACA with Juntos. A huge thank you to the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers who raised the money for the DACA scholarships, DACA clinic and the Open House.

We also want to thank you the lawyers who donated their time and expertise with the DACA applications. Thank you to the teachers and Juntos volunteers who helped set up and run the clinic and the Open House. Thank you to the members of the board for your work on making the Open House happen. And thank you to all the community members who became sustainers, people who are now donating monthly to the organization. To become a sustainer as well visit our donation page right now and sign up today. 

Sunday really reminded us all that Juntos is an organization made by the community, supported by the community and for the community! Sí se puede!

Juntos’ Reaction on Anti-Immigrant Political Stunt in TX

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In reaction to the recent decision in Texas by Judge Andrew Hanan, to enjoin President Obama’s Executive Action on immigration, Juntos issues the following statement:

The decision by Judge Hanen comes as no surprise and is a clear example of anti-immigrant sentiment in this country that goes all the way up to our judicial system. We know that this lawsuit is nothing but a political stunt that represents out of touch anti-immigrant elected officials across this country. This is about politics: not law, not justice.  Hundreds of legal scholars have already agreed, way before this decision was made, that the President’s executive action is constitutional and well within his authority. We are confident that this decision will be overturned promptly by appeal.We as a community are unfortunately used to racist and anti-immigrant tactics like this one to stall the progress made by our growing and vocal community.

Here in Pennsylvania we have had to deal with anti-immigrant sentiments like bills SB-9 and Arizona’s SB1070 predecessors in Hazelton, PA as well as the hyper criminalization of our people in the immigration and criminal system and all the way to local Philadelphia columnists using words like “illegal” to describe our families.  All of these measures are scare tactics used by the extreme right, just as the injunction in Texas is an attempt to scare our families into not applying for DACA and DAPA….but we don’t scare so easily.  We were not afraid to shut down ICE before to stop our families from being deported, we were not afraid to fight against the injustice of the Poli-migra in our community and to fight for the end of the use of ICE Holds, and we are not scared now. We will continue to work to defend our families until ALL 11 million + of our undocumented brothers and sister have access to a full and dignified life in this country and until the suffering of mass deportations have ended.

Thousands upon thousands of families are affected by this decision in Philadelphia and in the state of Pennsylvania thousands more.  Our families will keep getting ready to apply and getting their documents in order, as we know this is only temporary. We thank Mayor Nutter for being one of the Mayors who filed an amicus brief in support of Deferred Action and for having Philadelphia, one of the largest cities in this country, serve as an example to others on how to work with community to make the changes needed to be a more welcoming city to immigrants. As the legal battle continues we call upon other elected officials to take the necessary steps to protect immigrants from the deportation machine, including the President of the United States and we urge the 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals to take this case up immediately because millions of people cannot wait any longer.

En la Lucha,
Juntos