Norristown Vigil: End All Deportations

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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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Juntos Responds to the Immigration Bill Passing the Senate

Alto a las Deportaciones!Juntos families, leaders, and community members have fought an incredible fight these past few months for just and humane immigration reform.  We could not be prouder of our leaders who have been out on the front lines demanding we have reform that includes; a pathway to citizenship for all the 11 million undocumented people living in this country, a realistic and affordable process for our working families, educational access and opportunities for our young people and one that stops the inhumane and unjust deportation of our loved ones.

Just last year Juntos also led a courageous campaign entitled “The Hate Stops Here” pushing back on over 20 anti-immigrant bills in the state of Pennsylvania. Over 500 people and 20 organizations & unions came with us to Harrisburg and chanted “Si se Puede!” in support of our human rights. So it breaks our hearts to see that what passed through the Senate yesterday bears a striking resemblance to some of the very same anti-immigrant bills we were fighting against last year (E-verify, we see you!)

The reality is that this current immigration reform bill WILL NOT be inclusive of our 11 million brother and sisters.  Many of our loved ones will not qualify due to strict guidelines and those that do will need to make it through 10 years of probationary status before they can access a green card. If an individual in probationary status earns below the federal poverty line or has been unemployed for more than two months he or she will lose their status.  This is of grave concern for our community as many of our families struggle to make ends meet and already endure many labor abuses in order to do so.  What about our family members who are senior citizens, students, mothers who need to stay home with their children, the disabled, our domestic workers or day laborers? These types of guidelines will leave many people even more vulnerable as they try to remain in probationary status through conditions that are out of their control.

Add to all of this the $46 billion being proposed on more enforcement at the Mexico-US Border.  This type of spending would allow for more agents to be at the border than troops in Afghanistan, making the Mexico-US border the one of the most militarized borders in the world. All of this at a time when we are closing public schools across this nation at record speed and slashing education budgets so deep we are leaving our children without art, music, language supports, and far less teachers.  Wouldn’t that $46 billion be better spent on our schools and in our youth.

As this bill enters into the House of Representative we hope that our President can see the need to support immigration reform that puts our families first,  prioritizes our human right and ends the dangerous quota system that breaks apart 1,100 families a day.  Juntos leaders will continue to fight for what is right with the same courage we always have and we can only hope that those in power will find the courage to do the same.

Victory in Norristown!

JusticeCheck out this article by WHYY “Traffic stops become immigration stops in Deleware Valley.” on how last year in Norristown checkpoints and routine traffic stops were being used as immigration traps for immigrants. At the end of the article the new interim Chief of Police in Norristown is quoted as saying, “ICE won’t be back when his officers do checkpoints this summer.”  Victory! Over the past year Juntos’ work has expanded to not just Philadelphia but also the neighboring city of Norristown as we were the first on the scene with local community leaders in shedding light on the human rights abuses that were happening at the hands of local police and Immigration. We will continue to build power in Norritown to ensure that human rights abuses like these come to an end.  We thank all of you who have supported us in this.