On the heels of our large mobilization where we took over 260 community members to Washington D.C on April 10th to rally for the passing of a Comprehensive Immigration Reform. We here in Juntos applaud the introduction of the Senate’s bill on comprehensive immigration reform today April 17th and recognize the historic first step it is towards a just and humane policy reform.
In particular, we are in support of a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for our community and we look forward to working with other organizations and elected officials to improve on it and to ensure that any reform that passes is inclusive of all of our community, ends unjust deportations, and offers strong worker protections.
We in Juntos do have some concerns of what has been proposed so far. To begin, we are concerned with the amount of people who will not qualify due to unjust and unfair restrictions. As it stands right now thousands of families will still be left out of this reform and will be forced to live further in the shadows. Also, the 13 year wait to full citizenship is far too long, especially for families who have already lived and contributed to our society for many years.
At a time in Philadelphia when our schools are closing due to insufficient funds we believe a proposal that includes $5 billion dollars spent on a border that has been the most secure since the founding of our nation is excessive and those funds could be better used to keep schools open, improve public education, and create pathways to college for our youth.
We in Juntos have made a commitment to fight for a reform that is inclusive of the 11 million undocumented individuals in this country that leads to full citizenship and allows for our people to have a voice in the voting structure of this nation. We will also ensure that we prioritize families over spending more money on border enforcement and the policing of our community. In addition, nowhere in this reform debate does either party make mention of the US foreign policies or the multi-national corporations that decimate the economy of the Global South and causes the very migration they wish to curtail. Families migrate for the very sake of survival; to escape war and economic devastation. We must address these issues if we want to have true immigration reform.
Every day that we do not take action to create a fair policy 1,100 families are being torn apart through unjust deportations. We will continue to fight until we see a reform that will put an end to these conditions for our families. This bill is a step in the right direction but leaves much room for improvement and we commit to organize until those improvements occur.
Below are links to local and national media coverage and photos of the historic April 10th mobilization
KYW News Radio: Hundreds of Philadelphians Heading to D.C for Citizenship Rally
NBC Latino: A mother and daughter come out of the shadows to fight for Immigration Reform
Telemundo “Al Rojo Vivo” : Marchan por reforma migratoria
We need YOUR help to pass the Pennsylvania DREAM Act. We urge you to contact your local state representatives and pressure them to vote yes on Senate Bill 713 when it is presented in front of them.
Below we have provided a tool you can use to look up your local elected official.
Please also sign the petition below to ensure that your elected officials get an email urging them to pass this important piece of legislation
On March 16 Senator Lloyd Smucker (R) from Lancaster PA Introduced the Pennsylvania DREAM Act into the Senate. Juntos DREAMers, along with other youth in the state and the Pennsylvania Immigrant and Citizenship Coalition (PICC) sat down and met with the senator prior to the bill being introduced to draft the initial language of the bill and ensure that this bill is for and by the community that will be most affected.
Now that the bill has been introduced it is up to us, the people, to pressure our elected officials into making sure that this important piece of legislation passes.
The Pennsylvania DREAM Act will provide the opportunity for undocumented young adults who have graduated from a high school in Pennsylvania, or have a GED certificate , to pay in-state tuition rates at public institutions of higher learning in Pennsylvania. Most of the time undocumented students applying to college get charged international or out-of state tuition rates, which are 3-4 times more expensive than the regular in-state tuition they would get charged if they were documented. These are young adults that have grown up in Pennsylvania and they and their families have been contributing to the economy of the state. In 2010 families with undocumented heads of households paid approximately $135 million in state and local taxes. Passing the PA DREAM Act would increase the potential for those benefiting from it to increase their potential to contribute back to the state even more by becoming college educated productive tax payers.
This bill is not only beneficial to undocumented young adults but also to the whole of Pennsylvania. Allowing more students to access a college education, who would otherwise not be able to afford it, will increase the number of students enrolling into public institutions of higher learning and therefore increase college revenues. State DREAM Acts have passed already in 13 other states and they have provided huge economic benefits to public institutions.
We in Juntos see that denying students to ability to pay in-state tuition is unjust and as against the values of equality that this country was founded upon. We see education as a human right and therefore the access to education as well.
Please use the search box below to look up the contact info of your local state representatives and tell them to pass this important piece of legislation.
We in Juntos are pleased to finally see comprehensive immigration reform be a part of the national dialogue. With Obama making a commitment to address the current broken immigration system, as well as senators from both parties delivering a framework to prioritize it, immigration reform clearly has the potential to become real for our nation this year. We believe this to be a step in the right direction. The show of power by immigrant voters and the power behind every demonstration and civil disobedience enacted by leaders in our organized communities left both parties with very little choice but to respond to our community’s demands. All of this work has catapulted immigration reform to the top of the priorities list for both Democrats and Republicans alike.
But what has been released so far by both parties have left many in our community with mixed feelings. Many of our concerns about this broken immigration system have still not been addressed by those in power. The proposed framework will not ensure an end to the unjust deportations of our family members, nor does it address the root causes of migration. Nowhere in this reform debate does either party make mention of the US foreign policies or the multi-national corporations that decimate the economy of the Global South and causes the very migration they wish to curtail. One of those policies, for example, is the free trade agreement NAFTA which allows U.S. companies to establish maquiladoras or factories on the border with Mexico. Although these sites are considered a source of employment for many, most cannot live off the poverty wage they earn of $8 per day. Families migrate for the very sake of survival; to escape war and economic devastation. We must address these issues if we want to have true immigration reform.
This administration has already invested in deporting more than 800,000 people in the last two years, spending millions of dollars to further expand the detention system, as well as the prison system. We were witness to more border-crossing deaths and human rights violations in detention centers in these past four years. All of this has happened at a time when numbers indicate a decrease in immigration. We at Juntos believe resources would be better spent in keeping our public schools open, educating our youth, and providing pathways to college and university than to spend on further enforcement. We should invest in the education of our youth and not in the deportation of our families.
Last year Juntos and many other organizations and unions worked together to fight back against state-level anti-immigrant bills that were a clear attack on the poor and working people of Pennsylvania. While E-verify was at the top of the list of bills that we fought back together, both parties and Obama have yet again cited a national E-verify system in this first attempt at framing immigration reform. E-verify has already made thousands of errors. The proposed reforms also reference allowing agricultural workers the ability to move to the front of the line as long as they commit to years of working in the fields. When labor laws granting the right to unionize were created, almost 100 years ago, it was domestic workers and agricultural workers who were excluded from those rights. So in order to move up in the line you have to commit to work in a sector that offers you very little to no protections from exploitation. Finally, we are concerned that those who do not qualify for reform will be driven further into poverty as they try to continue to provide for their families.
The stakes are high as 11 million people in our communities are still waiting for reform that allows them to live dignified and full lives free from fear. As the battle rages on for fair and humane immigration reform, we cannot allow ourselves to be blinded by a package deal that forces us to sacrifice the rights of some of our community for others. If we do not address the issue of migration and the exploitation of workers, we cannot address a broken immigration system. We look forward to more debates on this issue until we reach a place where immigration reform sits on the side of dignity and justice. Any immigration reform that is being debated must hold our families as a priority and the voices of those most affected should be at the forefront of the solution. We in Juntos will continue to fight until we see that happen