DACA Recipients Speak Out. “Local Activism Is Our Most Powerful Tool”

Marisa Piña Rodriguez of Juntos. Photo by Harvey Finkle

DACA Recipients Speak Out.
Local Activism Is Our Most Powerful Tool

March 5th, 2018 stood as the deadline for Congress to take action on the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] program. On that Monday morning, DACA recipients, immigrant community, and allies gathered in Center City Philadelphia to speak up against the use of DACA recipients as a bargaining chip when it comes to national immigration reform, vehemently opposed any further enforcement or criminalizing of immigrant communities and called on local municipalities to strengthen and expand current Sanctuary policies to protect a wider array of community. Below you can find the speech given on that day by Juntos member, Marisa Piña Rodriguez.

“Good morning everybody. My name is Marisa Piña Rodriguez and I am a 28 year old DACA recipient with the Latino immigrant rights organization, Juntos.

I am here standing before you all because while March 5th loomed as the end date for the temporary protections granted under DACA, for the vast majority of our undocumented immigrant community, there is no date to warn them of their increasingly precarious situation  because every day under the Trump administration has witnessed increased aggressive and inhumane enforcement, detention, and deportations.

Last Monday’s Supreme Court decision to not take up the contentious DACA question and uphold the reinstatement of DACA renewals, was a short-lived but much coveted victory. Less discussed was that in less than 24 hours, that same court ruled that immigrants, including legal permanent residents and asylees, did not have a right to a bond hearing, leaving them to be detained indefinitely. This was a devastating blow to immigrant rights, to human rights, that illustrated how quickly previous victories are being reversed under Trump’s racist and anti-immigrant administration.

Our immigrant communities are under attack. As immigrants, refugees, advocates, and allies we will move toward a more humane future, a more compassionate and inclusive future, ONLY if we addressed the divisions plaguing our immigrant community–divisions both externally imposed by the media as well as those internally created by difference and fear. If we are not vigilant, the futures of DACA recipients will be taken hostage in order to pass white supremacist legislation aimed to further terrorize and criminalize our immigrant communities. This administration has repeatedly demonstrated that it sees DACA recipients as bargaining chips, that it seeks to pass opportunistic immigration reform to further divide our communities by granting benefits to a few while increasing enforcement and deportations for the majority.

The immigrant rights movement currently finds itself at a critical crossroads: Congress has failed us, the media seeks to divide us–what is to be done? We must not get discouraged, instead, we need to organize and unite more than ever. At the local level, there is much we can do to fight against this racist and anti-immigrant administration. Local activism is our most powerful tool to set an example for what we expect to be carried out at the federal level.

One such campaign would be to demand the termination of the Preliminary Arraignment Report System, better known as PARS. PARS is the real-time arrest database used by the Philadelphia Police Department, the District Attorney’s office, and Philly courts. This database is also shared with ICE. For over 20 years, this PARS-ICE collaboration has denied undocumented immigrants due process and instead served as a pipeline to detention. If the city of Philadelphia is truly committed to living up to its status as Sanctuary City, it must expand it’s definition of ‘Sanctuary’ and it must not renew its PARS contract with ICE this year.

So as we stand together let us remember that migrant justice is not just a Latinx issue. This white supremacist administration is a direct threat to immigrants of all races and creeds, of immigrants both present and those yet to come. We will continue to demand family reunification, not family separation. We will not accept more militarization in exchange for selective citizenship. We will fight for legislation and policies at both the national and local level that respect the humanity of all immigrants and our right to a safe and dignified life.

Thank You

 

The end of DACA is not the end of our people!

The End of DACA is Not The End of Our People

As the Trump administration continues to target and attack immigrants, the community has one thing on their mind, Resistance.

Today Trump has launched another attack on his war on immigrant communities in this country by cancelling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Over 800,000 of our loved ones had the very little security they had ripped away from them in one fell swoop. Now with an uncertain future ahead of them, families, parents, workers and students say the only thing that can guarantee their safety now is to fight back and unite.

Our whole community fought for years for our dignity, respect and right to be in the country we have also built. Our tenacity to stand up against injustice is what won us DACA in the first place. So even in these dark times we will continue to stand up against injustice, racism and white supremacy and we will win again.” said Olivia Vazquez, Youth Organizer of Juntos

At Juntos we have amped up our organizing and training efforts in order to provide our community with the best tools to defend themselves against ICE and police; knowledge. Since election night Juntos has provided “Know Your Rights” trainings to over 1,000 families and that number is only slated to increase with the launch of our “Community Resistance Zones.” The Community Resistance Zones is a plan to teach every person in a neighborhood how to defend themselves and their neighbors during a Trump administration through door knocking, information sharing, know your rights trainings for both ICE and/or police abuse. Our first Community Resistance Zone will be in South Philadelphia to train every one of our neighbors how to resist criminalization from our homes and community.

Trump has increased the arsenal of White Supremacy by unleashing an unaccountable terror machine against Immigrants. ICE has essentially snatched people outside their front doors, chased them down in their cars, disappeared them from outside of our courtrooms in ways that can only be likened to the Gestapo. The only way we can ensure our collective safety now is by working together and protecting each other.” Said Erika Almiron, Executive Director of Juntos

The cancellation of DACA comes at the heels of Trump’s pardoning of Sheriff Joe Arpaio for his blatant racial profiling and abuse of Latinos in Arizona, thus solidifying himself as the most openly racist U.S. President in recent history. The legacy of the Trump era in this country is without a doubt one cemented in the decimation of communities of color and the support of white supremacists everywhere from Charlottesville to Arizona.

We, united, are stronger than the White supremacists both inside and outside of the White House, the Department of Justice, Police and ICE.

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!

daca

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.