Corazones Rotos Vigil

Luis Chavez, My Uncle,  I miss you.

Luis Chavez, My Uncle, I miss you.

At sunset on February 12th, Juntos gathered at the Aquí y Alllá mural in South Philly to create a visual statement on the destructive impact of current immigration policies on our families. The vigil was planned to coincide with President Obama’s State of the Union Address, two days ahead of Valentine’s Day, when he confirmed that immigration reform will be a priority in his second term. Of course, this political momentum has grown out of the tireless work, the demonstration of power, la lucha of our community.After cleaning up the area, our youth began lighting candles and tying “broken” hearts to the fence surrounding the mural; hearts filled with the names of loved ones in the community, who have recently been deported. Against this stunning backdrop, with huge red hearts beating against the fence, Juntos leaders spoke emotionally and powerfully about the need for an immigration reform that is both just and humane. Padre Orlando led us through a prayer and community leader Maria Serna spoke about the pain of separation as a wound that never heals, reminding us that no community should experience such suffering. Gisela Hernandez asked both the President and the public to think about the families behind the stories, and for those most affected by immigration policies to be part of the conversation about reform.  After speaking boldly about how communities are exploited and kept in constant fear under the threat of deportation, Jackie Gomez asked the crowd if they would join her to continue fighting for a more inclusive immigration reform, and was met with a resounding “Si!”. Speakers called for an immediate moratorium on deportations and a reform that does not divide us; a reform that respects the dignity and contributions of all immigrants, and acknowledges the root causes of migration. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the Juntos community is organized and ready for this fight.

Thank you to all who came out in support last night! A diverse crowd of around 60 people – including Juntos community members, neighborhood residents, and other allies and supporters – were present at the event. We were treated to delicious atole and ponche, a real treat on this chilly February night, supplied by Blue Corn Alianza and Los Taquitos de Puebla.

Check out Juntos’ photos from the event, and our statement on immigration reform here.
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In honor of Valentines Day, we are asking that you our show support and love to Juntos BY DONATING as we continue to fight for our community and for a fair and just immigration reform. On April 10 we will be mobilizing  buses from Philadelphia and Norristown to Washington DC to make our voices heard along with thousand of other communites across the nation to demand that our community be at the forefront of the immigration reform conversation. 

$20 pays for one seat on a bus
$100 pays for water for one of the buses
$250 pays for lunch and snacks for one bus
$1,000 covers the cost of one bus rental

We hope you can support us however you can and we look forward to updating you on how immigration shapes our for our community.

Adelante,
Juntos

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Juntos Statement on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

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

Juntos honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a weekend of action!

 

Juntos Leaders Speak at Annual AFL-CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Labor Rally

On Saturday, January 19, 2013, Youth Leader in Juntos Olivia Vazquez and Executive Director Erika Almiron opened the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations’ (AFL-CIO) annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Rally to honor the 50th Anniversary of MLK’s March on Washington.  Hundreds of community members, workers, parents, young people, and labor leaders filled Independence Mall from numerous unions across the city, including the firefighters union and the teacher’s unions.  Juntos was there to speak on the impact school closings in Philadelphia will have on our community.  The Philadelphia School District is proposing to close 37 schools by the end of this school year and we demand a moratorium on the closing and a full impact study done.

Juntos stands with workers who fight for our schools, our communities, and who honor Dr. Martin Luther King by demanding we prioritize our families, communites, the education of our youth and workers over builiding more prisons, destroying public education, and deporting more families. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers said, “Have a moratorium on closing schools, let’s fix schools let’s make sure we invest in kids rather than de-invest,” Others who spoke included Pat Eiding, president of the AFL-CIO and Al Sharpton, former civil rights leader. Check out the American Federation of Teachers’ video of the rally.

On Saturday evening our Executive Director Erika Almiron was also a panelist at the Penn Law Latino Law Student Association (LALSA) conference entitled “Y Ahora Que?”  Erika spoke on immigration, education, and civic engagement on a panel called “Diversity among Latinos” which focused on the challenges and opportunities created by the diverse nature of the Latino community.


Juntos Open House

On Sunday, January 20th, Juntos had it’s 2nd annual open house to inform approximately 60 community members and allies who attended about the our work in 2012, as well as informing people of our plans for 2013. At the event we showed this video, which highlights our victories in 2012. Community leaders and Juntos’ staff presented the organization’s plans for 2013, these include: Fighting for national immigration reform that is inclusive of all our community and announcing a rally event on February 13th to kick off the fight, collaborating with other organizations in the city to defend the education of our young people, specifically in the fight to stop the massive school closures in the city, and Fuerza youth leaders’ campaign C.A.F.E (College Access for Everyone), which is focused on demanding a fair and equal process and access to college information at the city level for all youth regardless of immigration status, and asking for in-county/in-city tuition for all Philadelphia residents.

We are asking all community members and allies to come to South Philadelphia High on Tuesday, January 29th at 5pm, to support Juntos and other organizations in demanding a stop to the school closures! 



Juntos Youth Organizer Speaks at Rally for Community Love and Power

On Monday, January 21, 2013 One Love Movement, a community based organization that fights for the rights of the Cambodian Refugee Community in Philadelphia, along with other human and immigrant rights organization in the city, organized a March and Rally for Community Love and Power in honor of Martin Luther King Day. The day started with information sessions and workshops at FACTS Charter School. Workshops addressed the immigrant experience with a focus on the human rights aspect of the immigrant struggle in the city. Following the workshops, participants rallied and marched to LOVE park in Center City Philadelphia, where representatives from different organizations spoke out in support and urged people to come together for a human rights movement around immigration. Miguel Andrade, Juntos’ Youth Organizer, spoke about the need for our communities to come together and put aside our differences. “Dr.King once said “We must learn to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools,” these words have never had so much meaning as today…this movement should not be about individual struggles but about the combined struggle of all of us a human beings,” said Miguel Andrade during his speech. We at Juntos believe that the concept of human rights should be at the core of all of our fights, after all immigrant rights are human rights.
For more information on upcoming events contact:
(215) 218 – 9079
info@vamosjuntos.org

You’re Invited to Juntos’ Open House!

Be part of the Movement for Immigration Reform this 2013!

JUNTOS is a community-led organization that fights for human and immigrant rights. We invite you to come and find out what we achieved in 2012 and what we will be working on in 2013.

What: Juntos’ Open House

When: Sunday, January 20 at 2:00 PM

Where: JUNTOS auditorium, 2029 South 8th St.

We will have food and childcare available.

The organization has undergone several changes over the past two years. In 2011 a new era began for JUNTOS under the direction of Erika Almirón as Executive Director and months after, Miguel Andrade and Adriana Arvizo joined the staff as organizers. 2012 has been one of the most active years in JUNTOS. The organization faced a package of anti-immigrant laws, massive cuts in the School District of Philadelphia, police and ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) abuse against the Latino immigrant community and the lack of support for undocumented youth in the community.

Watch Hig
hlights of JUNTOS in the last year!

That’s why JUNTOS led the campaign ‘Pennsylvania: America Starts Here, the Hate Stops Here‘ and managed to defeat the 20 anti-immigrant laws similar to the ones in Arizona and Alabama. Also the group of parents from JUNTOS through protests and speeches to the City Council was able to, in a time of crisis and cuts, to stop the lay off of interpreters or bilingual staff in schools.
Also, Fuerza, JUNTOS’ youth group was able to secure two positions of counselors specifically dedicated to supporting young immigrants on their way to college.

At the same time, after President Obama announced he would give work permits to undocumented youth who meet certain requirements JUNTOS organized a briefing attended by over 200 young people and helped 600 more families to acquire their permit throughout the year.

JUNTOS also published a report of abuses made by police and ICE against the Immigrant-Latino community in Norristown PA, the second largest city with more Latinos after Philadelphia and is currently organizing the community to improve the conditions of that community and t0 stop the abuses.

At their offices JUNTOS offers referrals to different health institutions, lawyers and other needs that the community may have.
In 2012 JUNTOS helped nearly 700 families to refer them to available services that are affordable and reliable.

The work at JUNTOS in 2013 will continue and will focus on college access for youth in our community, the fight against the closure of the schools where our children attend, the fight for comprehensive immigration reform and stop the collaboration between immigration authorities and the police.