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.”

Donate To Help Juntos Stay In The Community

 

As a community based organization, it’s important for us at Juntos to be located in the community which we serve. Unfortunately, last month we were notified that we are unable to renew our lease for our space because there will be a coffee shop going up instead. We are literally being gentrified out.

For 15 years Juntos has been located in the heart of South Philadelphia, where a large majority of new latino-immigrants establish themselves. Our office has always been a space where community members can drop in for the services they need or to find a safe space. Being forced out of our neighborhood would put an end to this.

We need your help to raise the funds so we may move to another neighborhood location.

Gentrification is a real issue for poor black and brown communities in Philadelphia, every year our people are forced out of the communities that we’ve built so that others may profit from them.

So we need your help. Help us stay in our community by helping us raise enough money to find a new location for Juntos in the neighborhood as soon as possible.

Please consider donating to help us reach our goal of $10,000 to cover the costs to stay in South Philly.
Thank you!

Sincerely,
Juntos

May 1st: Statement of Resistance!

This May 1, 2017 the city of Philadelphia and hundreds of cities across the country will be participating in a national day of action. Locally, in Philadelphia, Juntos and Black & Brown Workers Collective along with our allies will stand together in the name of resistance for a day without immigrant, Black & Brown bodies. This is in effort to highlight the unilateral attacks that the administration has committed against not just immigrant communities, but Black & Brown communities, our LGBTQ family, HIV positive people, Muslims, women, young people, workers and many more. Together we make up over 75% of our city’s population.  We are the majority.

We are standing in collective power against the terrorist deportation machine that has been passed down through different administrations, anti-black policies/practices, and the genocidal and colonialist foundation of this country, which continues to inform those in power.  We stand together to show that we as a people are worth more than our labor that our value comes from being human beings. We will not allow any one of our community members to be scapegoated and targeted because the liberation of our people is tied together and if one of us is targeted, none of us are safe.

On May 1st we will use our collective economic power to shake this nation to its core but there are many ways you can be a part of this resistance movement. Funnel your energy into actions like walkouts, boycotts, strikes, marches, town halls, etc. and point them all towards building coalitions focused on dismantling all the mechanisms in place that serve only to criminalize us, incarcerate us or deport us.

It is important to note the complex and complicated histories of Black people and African Americans in the U.S. Black bodies whose blood lines have been displaced through slavery and through forced economic violence must be honored in this struggle, must be lifted up in this struggle and in the broader sanctuary movement and while our individual struggles play out differently in the types of violence suffered by our people, collectively we ALL have a stake in the broader struggle for freedom.  America was never great. It was founded and built on the genocide of our indigenous peoples, on slavery and the forced migration of people caused by the U.S.’s socio-economic policies that have decimated the global south.

But collectively we can demand that it bends to the will of the people. Black and Brown communities have for far too long been pitted against each other in an effort to to keep us all oppressed. We will not be silenced. We will not be scared into compliance.  We WILL NOT let history repeat itself. All Power to the People!

Yours in the Struggle for Liberation,

Black and Brown Workers Collective and Juntos

Why Philly is NOT a Sanctuary City

Photo by Hope in Focus Steve Pavey at the DNC 2017 in Philly

Philadelphia has been seen nationally as one of the cities to emulate as far as policies go in separating police and ICE and we couldn’t be prouder of our communities that led this fight and our allies and elected officials that have stood with us to protect our families. This was a movement to create a change led by those most affected but we must be clear; Philadelphia is NOT and has never been a Sanctuary City.

ICE continues to deport our loved ones by either getting people on the streets or by raiding their homes. Because of data sharing through programs like PARS, ICE still has access to people’s information through the police database and we are still fighting to get many people out of detention. What Philadelphia does do is abide by the fourth amendment in that it requires ICE to produce a warrant signed by a judge if they want the city to hold someone. That.is.it. That alone does not make us a Sanctuary City, it makes us a city that abides by the constitution on this issue.

Because ICE is still allowed to roam our streets we have worked hard to educate our families on their rights and to ensure they are training others to protect themselves. Last year alone our leaders trained over 500 families on their human rights and their rights as it pertains to ICE and police and we will continue to do that as we build out Human Rights Zones across Philadelphia and the state;  neighborhoods committed to protecting all of us.

We are glad that our city took the initial steps to work with us but there is still lots of work to be done if we want to declare Philadelphia a sanctuary city, one not just for immigrants but for black and brown folks, poor people, workers, etc. This would have to include an end to low level policing policies like “Stop and Frisk” and an end to racial profiling and “Broken Window” policing, a commitment to release our loved ones from jail by ending the cash bail system, and doing away with ankle monitors that create prisons for our loved ones in their homes only for private companies to profit off of.  A sanctuary city would ensure that police are out of ours schools and instead focus on getting more funding to our schools and staff that are trained to work with our families and who look like us.

In 2016 we saw the rise of several anti-immigrant bills introduced at the state level, threatening to take funding away from cities that declare themselves sanctuary cities. Well, we are here to say that Philadelphia is NOT a sanctuary city. We must stop saying that we are. Until all of our families are protected from racism and racist policies, we won’t be and the word sanctuary has just become a trigger that sparks the right to move against us, sparked by their own hate and racism. We should only be using the word sanctuary if we are truly offering sanctuary and we are not. For example, Javier and Alma’s family have Javier in actual sanctuary inside of Arch Street Methodist church so ICE cannot get him to deport him but if he leaves he can be deported, because Philadelphia is NOT a sanctuary city.

We anticipate given the elections that we are to expect more anti-immigrant bills in 2017. We need to prepare ourselves for hateful legislation using anti-immigrant sentiment to attack policies that were put in place to protect poor people, workers, LGBTQ folks, women and of course black and brown families. Don’t be fooled and given the climate, we are recommending that all those looking to support immigrant communities…

  1. Stop using the word sanctuary to describe any work with the immigrant community UNLESS you are working to provide true sanctuary for our families from attacks, deportation, detention, etc. There is a long history in Latin America on the sanctuary movement that we think all people can learn from.
  2. We ask that you work with and take leadership from impacted communities at this time to pass policies that create the changes our communities have asked for for a long time.

Let us also clarify at this time that ICE is not in our schools (thank God) and through federal law ICE cannot get access to our student’s information. If ICE ever decided to come into our schools we will reach out to our allies at that time to stand with us and fight back. But what we do have in are schools are school police that we need out of our buildings, we have metal detectors that make our children feel like criminals, we have children being locked up with their mothers in Berks Family Detention Center who are seeking asylum. We also don’t have enough counselors to help our children get into high schools or colleges, we have teachers and staff who are not properly trained to support immigrant youth and their families who may be struggling with the deportation or detention of a loved one, we have overcrowded classrooms, schools that don’t allow our parents to volunteer because they are undocumented and very limited support on language access in our schools for our parents.

In our streets we are beginning to feel the affects of a Trump administration as some police officers have felt emboldened to more aggressively racially profile our families; denying translation services to those that need it, making stops and detaining people with little to no reason and threatening people with arrest if they stand up for themselves.  It comes as no surprise that some of these officers would behave this way given that their own union, the Fraternal Order of Police, endorsed Trump for president; a man who ran his campaign on anti-immigrant sentiment and anti-black policies.

The issues we are about to face are immense but let’s fight together with leaders from our community and for changes our families need and have been asking for, for a long time. Let’s make sure those who are in contact with our families are adequately trained on how to support them from deportations, from trauma and in how to access better educational opportunities.  Let’s work with other communities to put an end to “broken window” policing and policies like “Stop and Frisk.”

We respectfully ask that you stop using the word Sanctuary at this time; it is an inaccurate description of our city. Let us instead work together to build the kind of city we all want to live in, one that respect all of our HUMAN RIGHTS, regardless of race, gender, immigration status, sexual orientation, etc.

Juntos