A la Comunidad de Norristown,
A la Comunidad de Norristown,
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
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.
This past Sunday Juntos held its first workshop on the currently proposed legislation for Immigration Reform, Rumbo a la Reforma. Community members, as well as Univision, came out in full force to learn about the state and federal Dream Act, as well as what would be the path to citizenship under the reform bill currently in the Senate.
Juntos leaders educated the audience with the slideshow below. What was clear through the presentation was that the Bill as it stands now provides a difficult path to citizenship. Leaders and community members both agreed that the requirements for citizenship being proposed are nearly impossible to meet. Therefore, Juntos has crafted six points that should be addressed in a truly comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Finally, the day was wrapped up with a Q&A with immigration lawyers and round chanting, the community shouting together “Si se puede!”