Register for Juntos’ first ever UndocuQueer art project!

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As pride season draws closer we’re proud to announce that on Sunday, May 31st, for the first time in the history of the organization, we will be launching a nine week art & history workshop series. A workshop series that is for & by LGBTQ Latino-Immigrants.

Too often the voices and experiences of our communities are ignored, forgotten and erased. This series of workshops have been created with the intention of informing young LGBTQ Latino-Immigrants on vital Latino/LGBTQ political history in Philadelphia & in the nation while also giving them the tools to create visual artwork that represents their own lived realities that are not often seen in mainstream movements.

If you want to register to participate in this landmark project please fill out the form below or call our offices at 215-218-9079. Registration is free, so register now!

Juntos Youth Leaders React to Berks County Family Detention Center

From right to left; Gabriela Jimenez, Karen Guerrero, Kemberly Martinez

From right to left; Gabriela Jimenez, Karen Guerrero, Kemberli Calixto 

Family Detention and Deportation is Wrong

All Detention and Deportation is Wrong

Twenty minutes outside of Reading, Pennsylvania lies Berks Family Residential Center. Inside the “Residential Center” women and children are indefinitely detained while they are in deportation proceedings, proceedings that can last not just months but years. What is occurring in the Berks Center is plain and simple a detention camp for undocumented immigrant families.

Juntos has long fought for the end of all detention and deportation of our community and the Berks detention camp highlights the depths of abuse that is currently being inflicted on the undocumented community. Within the last year alone a young woman was raped by a security guard in front of children and she and the witnesses continued to be detained for four months after the facility learned about the assault. ICE’s only response to sexual assault, other than firing the guard, was implementing a stringent dress code for the detained women. Recently, when a small child began to vomit blood ICE and Berks detention staff refused medical care until the fourth day. And through it all ICE has refused nearly all requests for release of detainees suffering from severe mental illnesses and those who have been on watch for self-harm.

It is clear that the Berks detention camp, like all detention camps across the country holding undocumented immigrants, must be closed. On May 12th, 2015 ICE announced enhanced oversight over these facilities but oversight is not the answer. We as an organization will not stop until every last facility is closed.

We echo the sentiments written by The New York Times editorial board that, Detention is intended to help enforce the law, but, in practice, the system breeds cruelty and harm, and squanders taxpayer money. It denies its victims due process of law, punishing them far beyond the scale of any offense. It shatters families and traumatizes children. As a system of mass incarceration — particularly of women and children fleeing persecution in Central America — it is immoral.”

The imprisonment of children is inhumane and in Pennsylvania is illegal. Any policy that does not release these families, honors their rights to be together and shuts down these centers immediately would be equally cruel and unusual. We must continue to fight for the Human Rights of all in our community. It is clear that the Berks detention camp, as well as all detention camps, must close immediately.

On May 2nd 2015, Juntos, along with other community organizations across southeast Pennsylvania, participated in an action demanding the closing of the Berks. Below are reactions from some of our youth leaders who were present that day.


Kemberli Calixto, age 16: “When I went to Berks Detention Center, honestly I felt scared, excited, but also proud to take part in this protest. I felt proud because I knew I was taking part in a good cause which will help our families be free. I knew that although I would like to do more or give more, it was hard. Yet I knew that this small action would make a change. I have always wanted to be part of a change in this world and make a difference in this messed up place.

Yes it is a messed up place. Why is there discrimination, racism, authority abuse, violence, etc., in this place where we are to be “united” and have “liberty?” Why can’t we just accept one another, I really hate to see when small kids at a young age are racist without knowing. So being part of this makes me proud since I want to be part of a difference and I want to see change too. It’s just not right that small kids have to live in a place where they are only let outside for an hour, then having to go back inside, surrounded by four dark wall and not able to go to the park, run around like kids their age.

So this should change because a difference needs to made and soon. Honestly, I felt excited since I knew that every voice counts, that my action or voice can make a difference. However, I also felt scared because I knew that many things could happen in a protest but the good thing was that everything went well. I also felt sad because when I saw the kids and women’s outside, I just wanted to run towards them, hug them and tell them everything was going to be okay. I wanted to tell them that we won’t give up on them and that a change will come and it will be soon. I know how it feels to feel like you have no one or that the world is done but please help us to bring back the smiles to these innocent kids that only want to be someone in this world. Please help us to give them the education and rights they deserve because no kid should be prevented from achieving in life. I just felt that it is true that “Juntos” or together anything is possible. And like how we say here at JUNTOS, #NOT1MORE and SI SE PUEDE. So yes this was my first protest but it won’t be my last. I will take part in this cause until all Latinos are accepted and not called “illegal.”

Gabriela Jiménez, age… “The Berks family detention center protest was my first protest. I was so excited and nervous. I was excited because it was a chance for me to be part of a change. The more people they see at the protest, the more the families feel supported. I was nervous because I am undocumented and I was afraid they would arrest me, but that didn’t happen because I was safe with the organizers. I really enjoyed the protest, I really want there to be a change in this world where there would be peace, no families getting separated, where people could walk and be wherever they want to be without having to get caught by ICE. They only came to the U.S for a better future for their kids and themselves. I have hope that someday there will be a change, that there will be peace because everybody is not so different really, we are all humans with dreams. The only difference in people are their physical traits and that doesn’t hurt anybody, what hurts is to take people’s chances to get to their dreams because of it. I’m glad I had a chance to be part of a protest to help families because I wouldn’t be happy if my family got separated for a long time, they should be out and enjoying their life. JUNTOS, which means “everybody together” is the greatest power of all. People should always take a chance in protesting what is wrong, because you never know, it may help help families get out of jail.”

Karen Guerrero, 16 años  “Que es un centro de detención? Un centro de Detención es un lugar donde niños, padres y madres están detenidos figuradamente. Se puede decir que están encarceladas. Sin poder salir. Ahora ponte en los zapatos de estas madres desesperadas que piden a gritos poder salir y disfrutar los momentos más pequeños y a la vez más grandes con sus hijos. Como padres es muy importante ver a sus hijos graduarse, por eso es que estas personas dejan todo lo que conocen atrás. Imagínate a una madre soltera con dos hijos, uno de 4 y el otro de 5. Esta madre sufrió abusos en su casa desde pequeña, no sabe leer porque en su tierra natal no tuvo los recursos necesarios para estudiar. Ella trabaja muy duro pero sabe que en su país sus dos hijitos no tendrán oportunidad de salir adelante. Entonces por un año, ella ahora su dinero para venir a los Estados Unidos. Ella quiere lo mejor para sus hijitos. Tiene que asegurarse que Inmigración no los detenga si no de que sirve todo su esfuerzo. Ella corre esquivando las balas que la migra le tira y trata de proteger a sus niños.

Pero es mucho cansancio para los niños y están asustados. Los dos niños se ponen a llorar. Uno de ellos se cae y de repente la migra los tiene en sus garras. Se la llevan a un lugar obscuro, a un centro de detencion. Al principio siente que su mundo se cae pero ella toma esperanza cuando le dicen que tiene que estar detenida tres meses con sus hijos para decirle sí se puede quedar o no en el país. En el transcurso del tiempo, esta mujer y sus criaturitas sufren problemas psicológicos y físicos. Aun así no pierde la esperanza y día con día ella se pone más ansiosa. Ella le pido a gritos a Dios que se pueda quedar en este país para poderle dar un buen futuro a sus hijos. Pasaron seis meses y aun no le dicen nada. No es justo que estos niños sufran y vean a su madre golpeada o lastimada. Este país promete  que aquí la gente es libre y la ley justa. Pero esas son mil mentiras. La gente en los centros de detenciones no son libres. Libertad es poder ir a comer un helado o hacer las simples cosas así.

Yo siendo una joven de 16 años no debería de tener miedo por mi familia, por mi comunidad, ni por mi!! Honestamente ya estoy cansada de esta situación. Cuando puse un pie en ese centro de detención, me sentí aprisionada, me sentí triste de no poder entrar y sacar a esos niños. Si yo estuviera en una situación similar y mis hermanos estuvieran ahí, me moriría y no sabría que hacer. Mi familia es tan importante para mí. Mirar a esas mujeres luchadoras y fuertes me hicieron sentir afortunada de conocerlas. Yo solo quería llorar por lo que estaba viendo, no era justo, era triste. Aun así me limpie las lágrimas y me arme de valor porque les quería dar esperanza de que juntos se puede hacer lo imposible. Lo vuelvo a repetir hay que hacer un cambio en el sistema. No tener papeles no es lo único que nos define, ni dice quien somos. Los papeles no nos hacen mejor, ni peor que nadie. Esta protesta me hizo poner los pies sobre la tierra y ver la realidad de las cosas. La injusticia siempre ha estado ahí bajo de nuestras narices. Me hizo dar cuenta que hay persona sufriendo por el gobierno corrupto y que venden a personas inocentes por un par de monedas. NO ES JUSTO y debemos parar esto. Si no para entonces dónde está la humanidad en este mundo? Luchemos por estas personas que serán el futuro de este mundo donde quizás por fin haya paz, comprensión, amor y libertad. Hay que decir NO a la injusticia!”


Community Leads Information Sessions on Obama’s Administrative Relief Announcement


Community Leads Information Sessions on Obama’s Administrative Relief Announcement

Juntos’ leader kicked off December by organizing three informational sessions on Obama’s executive action on immigration. While more information is pending in the final details of the President’s new programs Juntos took to action to inform community on eligibility requirements and protection against fraud. In collaboration with the St. Thomas Aquinas and Annunciation Catholic Church located in South Philadelphia and with CCATE in Norristown Juntos lead an informational presentation with Q&A. These informational sessions will be the first in a series to inform community on the President’s deferred action programs, DACA and DAPA, and to ensure that community members can safely and affordably apply if eligible. To read the presentation or watch footage if the first info session visit our Deferred Action Page.


Has ICE gone rogue? Report and anonymous letters seem to agree

Has ICE gone rogue? Report and anonymous letters seem to agree

ICE Tactics PressConference


In the six months, since the passing of Philadelphia’s historic ICE Holds executive order, over 200 locals across the country have adopted similar policies limiting the interactions between ICE and local police departments and jails. Also, in the last six months, community members and immigration reform leaders in Philadelphia as well as across the country have seen shifts in ICE’s tactics to continue to meet their draconian deportation quota.

Juntos worked with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network on a recently released report, “Destructive Delay”, which shows the real human cost of delays in Washington. As the President continues to postpone actions ICE agents are increasingly becoming more aggressive to expand their reach. The cost includes further civil rights violations at the hands of ICE officials as they attempt to continue to reach their quota at any cost.

“Our community has been asked to wait for President Obama to act on relief from deportations until the time is politically right. We are asked to wait to reform immigration policies that he himself has called “inhumane” and meanwhile, ICE agents are again eroding trust between communities and local government with new tactics that violate our civil and human rights.” said Erika Almiron, Executive Director of Juntos.

Pennsylvania families, who have family members in deportation proceedings, shared their stories, how these new tactics have impacted their lives and shared their reactions to the report’s findings.  Thomas Decker, ICE’s local Field Office Director, was invited to respond to the communities concerns and correct the rogue behavior illustrated in the report but was unable to attend. Juntos has received two anonymous letters within the last five weeks from what appears to be someone in working within Immigration Customs and Enforcement. The letters confirm what community, organizers and lawyers in the greater Philadelphia area suspected, that there continues to be collaboration with ICE and the criminal justice system in certain locales in Pennsylvania.

One letter states that an ICE supervisor performed a joint operation with the police “to clean up the illegal Mexican population” in Norristown, a municipality 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Another letter denounces collaboration between ICE and jails in Montgomery, Chester and Bucks Counties. It claims that every time a person with a foreign name, mainly Latino, is released immigration is called and given a two-hour notice. “As they walk out, immigration arrests them. Everyone at the jails knows this and do not want to post bail (for those arrested) because they are scared,” reads the letter. “There are people whose cases were dismissed and immigration was still called and arrested them as they were going home.”

Pilar Molina, Juntos leader, said, “We are sending a message to the local Philadelphia ICE office. Your rogue tactics will not be tolerated in our communities. Practices that rely heavily on racial profiling harm our families and must be ended. We will not stop until you are out of our communities and our families are safe.”

The full report can be found at: