After 11 Months In Sanctuary, Javier Flores Is Free To Be Home With His Family!

Photo by Karen Rodewald

 

After 11 Months In Sanctuary, Javier Flores Is Free To Be Home With His Family!

On Wednesday, October 11th, Juntos along with members of Philadelphia’s immigrant community and allies, stood with Javier Flores Garcia at Arch St. United Methodist Church as he took his first steps outside of the church he had been living in since November 2016 after having won his deportation case.

Javier,  a 40 year old Mexican father living in Philadelphia since 1997 went into Sanctuary shortly after the November elections of last year in an act of resistance and bravery. In 2004 Javier was stabbed multiple times and left for dead and worked through that harrowing experience with local law enforcement to capture his assailants, making him eligible for a U-Visa. Yet he was deemed deportable because of previous deportations which were the result of him trying to always reunite with his family, which has always been Javier’s number one priority. Javier then spent 16 agonizing months in detention at both York and Pike County Detention Center while his children, who witnessed ICE take their father away from them with guns in front of his house, had to go into therapy after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of what they had witnessed. He was released from Pike County only to be given three months to get his papers in order, which was not enough time, and therefore was forced to make the brave decision to enter Sanctuary, once again in an effort to keep his family together. Now, after eleven months in Sanctuary and after 2.5 years of agonizing torture, he and his family are finally free from the confines of the threat of deportation and are going home to Northeast Philadelphia.

Javier was granted a waiver for his re-entries which allow his U-Visa case to move forward and grants him a deferred action while he waits for his case is determined by USCIS, which could take a year or two. In the meantime he will be granted working papers and be free from the fear of deportation. Javier’s wife, Alma, and her children started to fight Javier’s case while he was still detained the weekend that Pope Francis visited Philadelphia in September of 2015. Adamaris, Javier’s daughter, made a sign for the Pope pleading for help with her father’s case and when he passed by her blessed her, since then the family has been fighting for their freedom. The family has led marches including at the Democratic National Convention, spearheaded a Caravan for Freedom collecting thousands of petitions urging for Javier’s release and in their bravest display of resistance, entered Javier into Sanctuary just days after Trump was elected into office.

And now, on the eve of the Trump administration’s one year anniversary and just days after “Operation Safe City” led to the disappearance of 107 people at the hands of ICE in Philadelphia, the victory of Javier and his family serves to remind us that in the face of white supremacy and massive criminalization of people of color in this country, the only way to ensure our freedom and to be with our families is with acts of resistance and bravery.

Erika Almiron, Executive Director of Juntos, had this to say, “This administration works everyday to criminalize our very existence as people of color and wants nothing more than to spark fear in our community. But Javier has shown us how bravery and resistance is crucial to fighting back against the erosion of our rights. His family, like any other, has the right to be together and to live with dignity. We must continue to build the resistance against the Trump administration, which is headed by white supremacists, and build the kind of country and world we can be proud of; one that is guided by Love, not hate.”

Join The Community Resistance Zone

Join The Resistance!

White Supremacy is a disease in this country that has existed since 1492 and since Trump’s election we are reminded every day that if you are a person of color in the U.S., you are not safe. From travel bans to massive immigration raids like Operation “Safe City,” where 107 people were disappeared in Philadelphia in four days, the attacks are devastating our families. We cannot let this government define what “safety” is. We can only be safe in these times by building safety for ourselves and we need your help to make it happen!

On November 11th and 12th we will be launching our Community Resistance Zones, a campaign aimed at protecting our loved ones by creating safe zones in our city where every person, block by block, is both trained on their rights and on how to support any neighbor who is subject to racial profiling, police or ICE raids, hate crimes and any other forms of criminalization in this nation.

We will pilot our Community Resistance Zone in South Philadelphia one year after Trump was elected. What will you be doing that weekend to resist? Join us to build the resistance and sign up using the form below!

 

Nothing Safe about “Operation Safe City”

Operation “Safe City”: A federal retaliation against cities and communities who refuse to cooperate with a white supremacist administration

On September 12, 2017 Juntos along with over 30 local organizations and nine individuals including City Councilwomen Maria Quiñones-Sanchez and Helen Gym and Juntos executive director Erika Almiron filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Philadelphia field office in response to reports that a massive nationwide raid known internally as Operation Mega would be unleashed upon immigrant communities with a goal of detaining over 8,000 individuals before the end of ICE’s fiscal year on September 30th. Not long after, ICE publicly announced that they would be postponing Operation Mega with no indication of when and proceeded to deny the FOIA request at the Philadelphia field office.

This lack of transparency to the public demonstrates that any sense of security from ICE should not be trusted. Just eleven days after submitting the FOIA request, ICE once again proved they are a rogue agency by launching “Operation Safe City”, a massive raid operation targeting “Sanctuary Cities” like Philadelphia. Operation Safe City can only be described as a deliberate retaliation against cities and communities who refuse to cooperate with a racist, xenophobic and white supremacist administration in violating people’s rights. Philadelphia felt the brunt of this retaliation by having the largest number of people disappeared in the country, with 107 people picked up in four days, more than any other ICE office in the country.

The irony of this operation being dubbed “Safe City” does not go unnoticed by the victims of the raids. One local family reported that ICE raided their home wielding guns in front of several children, interrogating one of their daughters without parental consent and proceeded to fingerprint everyone in the household. Some who were handcuffed and removed were described as “collateral damage,” meaning they had no reason to be detained other than being immigrants and are the victims of an agency and political climate that terrorizes and tears apart families with Gestapo style tactics in the name of public safety.

Erika Almiron, Executive Director of Juntos, said “Public safety is about all of us being safe from the hands of Trump’s criminalization machine and cannot be defined by ICE agents who knock down the doors of our homes with guns and drag people out in front of their children. This is why we need to Expand Sanctuary in cities like Philadelphia and in our state to protect our families from this new age Gestapo using immigration as a way to do ethnic cleansing. We must push for policies inside our systems that decriminalize people who are just trying to survive and ensure that our legal system and police don’t collude with ICE, which only makes everyone in our city less safe.”

Immigrants to ICE: Show Us Your Papers

Immigrants to ICE: Show Us Your Papers

As Part of National Challenge to Trump’s Deportation Force, Pennsylvanians to Press ICE’s Corruption and Impunity into Public Eye

Today, Juntos along with multiple Pennsylvania based organizations and individuals have filed FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests at the Philadelphia ICE Field Office in wake of rumors of massive national raids slated to begin on September 16th with the goal of detaining over 10,000 people across the country. This massive raid has been dubbed by ICE “Operation Mega”

Across the country, immigrant communities are filing FOIA requests demanding details regarding the planning and execution of Operation Mega and all enforcement activities as well as the procedures for targeting and capturing individuals agents encounter.

Since the election and under the direction of Tom Homan at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice, Trump’s deportation force has become unchained and acting with impunity. With rumors circulating of massive raids planned by the agency, advocates plan to monitor the agency’s activity and force its corruption into public view.

In Philadelphia, our “Sanctuary City” policy prohibits local police from acting as federal immigration agents. Unfortunately, we know that the deportation machine knows no bounds and ICE has begun using other methods to gain access to our community such as waiting for people outside of our courts, detaining people in our probation offices, using portable fingerprint machines and doing illegal traffic stops.

The Trump administration has let loose an unaccountable agency against our people. The recent announcement of Operation Mega is the latest in a list of rogue tactics aimed at our community. Since the federal government isn’t checking their corruption, we are filing FOIAs locally and across the country to begin to monitor it and bring it to light.” Said Erika Almiron, Executive Director of Juntos.

The list of organizations and individuals who signed on to the FOIA request locally are as follows:

Individuals:
Philadelphia Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez
Erika Almiron, Juntos
Abel Rodriguez, Cabrini University
Candace McKinley, Black Lives Matter Philadelphia
Jasmine Rivera, Community Activist
Maria Sotomayor, PA Immigrant & Citizenship Coalition
Peter Pedemonti, New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia
Troy Turner, Make The Road PA

Organizations:
Juntos
Asian Americans United
Black Live Matter Philadelphia
CASA
Casa San Jose
Casa Dominicana de Hazleton
Caucus of Working Educators
Center on Immigration at Cabrini University
Esperanza
Free Migration Project
GALAEI
Global Women’s Strike
Grupo de Apoyo e Integración Hispanoamericano
HIAS PA
Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia
Make the Road PA
New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia
Payday Men’s Network
Philadelphia Red Umbrella Alliance
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
Philadelphia Student Union
Pennsylvania Immigrant & Citizenship Coalition (PICC)
Philadelphia Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild (POWER)
Reclaim Philadelphia
SEIU 32BJ
Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network (UUPLAN)
UNITE HERE Local 274
Up Against The Law
Vietlead
Women of Color In The Global Women’s Strike
Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project (YASP)