Our Right to be Here: Deportations and Identifications

License Checkpoint this Spring in Norristown

License Checkpoint this Spring in Norristown

Every year Juntos supports over 300 families through moments of crisis, including deportations.  Not having a valid local identification or a driver’s license, when encountering local police at a traffic stop or in the community, is where many of our deportation cases begin.  In the almost twelve years since the founding of Juntos our community has fought back against thousands of deportations in the state of Pennsylvania that have broken apart our families and have left many young people without one or both parents to support them. That is why Juntos community leaders have identified deportations as the number one issue to address and ultimately build power to ensure the end of policies and practices that separate our families.

Just this past year, through the dedicated involvement of Juntos leaders, we were able to secure a huge victory in Norristown, PA to end the practice of local police working with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) at traffic checkpoints for driver’s licenses.  It was here that the intersections of deportations and identification were made glaringly apparent when we heard story after story of families torn apart because a family member was pulled over and, because of not having a driver’s license, then entered into deportation proceedings.  We have also had similar instances in Philadelphia of individuals who entered into deportation proceedings because on traffic stops or accidents.  Many times we have been witness to deportations starting because of interaction with local police and lack of identification.  There have been numerous cases of individuals who have been booked into custody for either having no ID or for showing their country of origin’s ID, which leads to questions pertaining to immigration status, even though the city of Philadelphia has a directive for police to not ask these questions.

That is why in Juntos we see the issue of addressing lack of local identification and driver’s licenses directly connected to the work we do to stop deportations just as much as we see the need for immigration reform policies that prioritizes ending the deportation machine and the ending of policies like Secure Communities and the voluntary practice of ICE holds that decimate our communities’ right to due process.

Several years ago, when thousands of immigrant Pennsylvanians were illegally stripped of their legally obtained driver’s licenses by Penndot, Juntos was there with the leaders who fought back.  Six of these brave individuals made it to the PA Supreme Court and fought back in a landmark case to keep their licenses; and won. Just this year state legislation was introduced, due to the diligent work of hundreds of leaders from across the state of Pennsylvania (from Philadelphia, Norristown, Easton, and Allentown to name a few) to pass an unmarked driver’s license in Pennsylvania.  Many other states have already passed similar legislation targeted at building trust between immigrant communities and different municipalities.  At the same time, a Municipal ID Bill was introduced in the city of Philadelphia that, if passed, will help thousands of Philadelphians, including young people, the elderly and immigrants, to access necessary & vital resources.

For all of these reasons, we stand in solidarity with all of the leaders who see the need to fight for our human right to remain with our families and our right to be here, in the place we call home. Juntos will continue to fight, just as we encourage all of our community to do so, on issues that our community deems as vital and important and to ending deportations by addressing the root causes of our struggle so we may live the lives we are all meant to live; dignified ones.

Join the #Free2Dream Campaign

Get your DreamPhoto taken this Wednesday and join the #Free2Dream Campaign

When: Wednesday, August 21st 5-9pm.
Where: Juntos’office, 2029 S. 8th St. Philadelphia, PA
Join us for the launch of the #Free2Dream campaign in support of the Pennsylvania Dream Act. Currently the PA Dream Act, which would allow all students access to in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities in PA regardless of immigration status, is in the State Education Committee. We need to let our elected officials know they MUST support college access for our youth by bringing up the PA Dream Act (SB 713) to a vote in the Education Committee NOW.The #Free2Dream campaign aims to demonstrate how much support the PA Dream Act has across the state and the need to act now to support our youth.Once again please join us in person this Wednesday, August 21st between 5-9pm at 2029 S8th st Philadelphia  to get your official Dream Photo taken!

Norristown Vigil: End All Deportations


Tuesday, September 9th JUNTOS leaders in Norristown held a candle light vigil for community members who have been deported by Immigration Customs Enforcement.  September 9th marked the return of Congress from summer vacation.  In just 2013 countless Norristown residents have been deported, leaving behind families members in fear of the safety of their loved ones. 

Juntos leaders commemorated thirty Norristown residents who have been or are in the process of being deported, some deported just a few weeks ago. A total of thirty hearts, with the names of residents and their stories, were strung in the parking lot of Los Portrillos, a well known restaurant in the Norristown and the location of Sunday JUNTOS community meetings.

Families with members currently in the process of being deported spoke about their traumatic experiences with ICE. Norristown High School student Rosemary De La Luz said, “The fact is, my parents could walk out the door just around the corner and not come back. I’m always scared that something minor could lead to them being questioned about their status. And I’m afraid that if their status gets known to the wrong people they could be deported and I might not ever see them again.”

The vigil was also joined by Father Gus, priest of Norristown’s St. Patricks Catholic Church, who spoke on the need for real policy that will lift the latino community, not persecute them. Juntos leader Fidel De la Luz spoke on the need for Congress to pass an immigration reform that ends all deportations, creates a pathway to citizenship that is affordable for families of all income levels and with a shorter period of time to complete, none of which is in the current proposed legislation in Congress. Finally the vigil closed with Juntos leader Denise Arguto speaking on the local need for policies that end deportations as well as end the collaboration between local police and ICE. Fidel’s speech can be read below.


Buenas Tardes, mi nombre es Fidel De la Luz, vivo en este país desde hace 17 años. Soy un miembro de Juntos, y voy a hablar sobre la reforma migratoria.

La propuesta que está en el Senado acerca de la Reforma Migratoria propone un camino a la ciudadanía que para la mayoría tomaría mínimo 13 años. Esta vía para la ciudadanía requeriría que todos los participantes ganen, con el tiempo, un salario que es 25% más que el nivel de la pobreza. Si alguien está bajo este nivel o se quede sin empleo, no podría seguir el camino a la ciudadanía. Y también está proponiendo gastar billones de Dólares en militarizar la frontera, cuando, al mismo tiempo, ciudades como Norristown tienen poco dinero. Los requisitos de esta propuesta no son justos, reales, ni aplican para todos los 11 millones de inmigrantes. ¡Tampoco detendrán las deportaciones!

No queremos más familias separadas porque la mayoría de las veces los niños son los que pierden.

Queremos una reforma migratoria justa para que nuestros hijos no vivan con el miedo que en cualquier momento sus padres pueden ser deportados. Necesitamos una reforma migratoria justa para que nuestras comunidades no vivan con miedo de ser deportados, de leyes antinmigrantes, y de injusticias en general.

Queremos una reforma migratoria más corta porque no es justo pedir a un campesino trabajar 10 años más en un trabajo tan duro. No es justo decir a alguien que ya ha pasado 20 años trabajando en este país, pagando sus impuestos, cuidando por su familia, que tendrá que esperar 13 años más.

Queremos una reforma accesible porque muchos en esta comunidad no tienen mucho dinero y solamente trabajamos, trabajamos, trabajamos para pagar la renta, mantener nuestros hijos, y sobrevivir. No es justo que el gobierno pide más dinero que no tenemos.

Todos los seres humanos buscan vivir una vida feliz

En esta vigilia pedimos unidad de la comunidad de Norristown por todas aquellas personas que han sido deportadas de nuestra comunidad, por las familias separadas, y principalmente por los niños victimados de este Sistema.

Pedimos al Señor Congresista Jim Gerlach y al Congresista Pat Meehan que pasen una reforma que sí va a ayudar a los inmigrantes. Sí, necesitamos que los políticos aprueben una reforma migratoria, pero no como está escrito ahora. Deben escuchar a nuestras exigencias y pasar una reforma que tiene un camino a la ciudadanía accesible para cualquiera persona a pesar de su nivel de ingreso. Necesitamos que estos y otros políticos nos ayuden durante este período difícil. ¡Exigimos una reforma ahora que nos ayudará con la ciudadanía y también detendrá las deportaciones!

Aquí estamos luchando por nuestros sueños, sueños de todos los inmigrantes. No podemos esperar más.

JUNTOS Organizes Press conference in response to Law Enforcement Raids in South Philadelphia

On July 3rd, Juntos and the Latino-Immigrant community of South Philadelphia organized a community-led press conference in response to reports of possible raids and abuses against the community. One week after the community was awaken in the early hours of the morning by law enforcement agents barging into people’s homes, community leaders got together and decided that enough was enough and that they had to speak up against these injustices if they hoped for them to stop.

On Wednesday June 23, Juntos received multiple reports of possible cases of abuse against the community in South Philadelphia by agents from different law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, local police, and ICE where they raided residential properties on 7th, 8th and  9th Street in South Philadelphia. Officers forcibly entered homes without clearly presenting warrants and provided little to no interpretation when questioning Spanish speaking community members. One community member described how officers, who were searching for her brother, woke her children up from their beds, took her brother out at gun point in front of the family and told her she was not allowed to speak Spanish while she attempted to console her crying children. After her husband and her brother were fingerprinted in their home her husband was then coerced to leave his house where he was then arrested and is now being held for deportation.

Another incident, described by Juntos youth leaders, officers questioned two children under the age of 18 without parental supervision and refused to allow the children to see their parents after they repeatedly asked to be let out of questioning. This intimidation by local police force instills fear into the immigrant community, weakening the trust between police and those they serve.

Last week’s raid have left the immigrant community in a state of fear, some too afraid to leave their homes and all of this happened one day before the U.S. Senate approved SB. 744, the current immigration reform bill (click here to read our response on SB.744).  Erika Almiron, Executive Director of Juntos states, “Immigrant communities have suffered great loss due to an unjust immigration system; one that separates and breaks apart our families.  As immigration reform is being debated nationally we MUST end the unjust deportations that destroy our families locally as well as address rebuilding trust between our local police department and the community.” 

Please see pictures of our event below 

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