DACA Recipients Speak Out. “Local Activism Is Our Most Powerful Tool”

Marisa Piña Rodriguez of Juntos. Photo by Harvey Finkle

DACA Recipients Speak Out.
Local Activism Is Our Most Powerful Tool

March 5th, 2018 stood as the deadline for Congress to take action on the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] program. On that Monday morning, DACA recipients, immigrant community, and allies gathered in Center City Philadelphia to speak up against the use of DACA recipients as a bargaining chip when it comes to national immigration reform, vehemently opposed any further enforcement or criminalizing of immigrant communities and called on local municipalities to strengthen and expand current Sanctuary policies to protect a wider array of community. Below you can find the speech given on that day by Juntos member, Marisa Piña Rodriguez.

“Good morning everybody. My name is Marisa Piña Rodriguez and I am a 28 year old DACA recipient with the Latino immigrant rights organization, Juntos.

I am here standing before you all because while March 5th loomed as the end date for the temporary protections granted under DACA, for the vast majority of our undocumented immigrant community, there is no date to warn them of their increasingly precarious situation  because every day under the Trump administration has witnessed increased aggressive and inhumane enforcement, detention, and deportations.

Last Monday’s Supreme Court decision to not take up the contentious DACA question and uphold the reinstatement of DACA renewals, was a short-lived but much coveted victory. Less discussed was that in less than 24 hours, that same court ruled that immigrants, including legal permanent residents and asylees, did not have a right to a bond hearing, leaving them to be detained indefinitely. This was a devastating blow to immigrant rights, to human rights, that illustrated how quickly previous victories are being reversed under Trump’s racist and anti-immigrant administration.

Our immigrant communities are under attack. As immigrants, refugees, advocates, and allies we will move toward a more humane future, a more compassionate and inclusive future, ONLY if we addressed the divisions plaguing our immigrant community–divisions both externally imposed by the media as well as those internally created by difference and fear. If we are not vigilant, the futures of DACA recipients will be taken hostage in order to pass white supremacist legislation aimed to further terrorize and criminalize our immigrant communities. This administration has repeatedly demonstrated that it sees DACA recipients as bargaining chips, that it seeks to pass opportunistic immigration reform to further divide our communities by granting benefits to a few while increasing enforcement and deportations for the majority.

The immigrant rights movement currently finds itself at a critical crossroads: Congress has failed us, the media seeks to divide us–what is to be done? We must not get discouraged, instead, we need to organize and unite more than ever. At the local level, there is much we can do to fight against this racist and anti-immigrant administration. Local activism is our most powerful tool to set an example for what we expect to be carried out at the federal level.

One such campaign would be to demand the termination of the Preliminary Arraignment Report System, better known as PARS. PARS is the real-time arrest database used by the Philadelphia Police Department, the District Attorney’s office, and Philly courts. This database is also shared with ICE. For over 20 years, this PARS-ICE collaboration has denied undocumented immigrants due process and instead served as a pipeline to detention. If the city of Philadelphia is truly committed to living up to its status as Sanctuary City, it must expand it’s definition of ‘Sanctuary’ and it must not renew its PARS contract with ICE this year.

So as we stand together let us remember that migrant justice is not just a Latinx issue. This white supremacist administration is a direct threat to immigrants of all races and creeds, of immigrants both present and those yet to come. We will continue to demand family reunification, not family separation. We will not accept more militarization in exchange for selective citizenship. We will fight for legislation and policies at both the national and local level that respect the humanity of all immigrants and our right to a safe and dignified life.

Thank You

 

Juntos Community Leader Speaks at the 2018 Women’s March in Philadelphia

Juntos Community Leader Speaks at the 2018 Women’s March in Philadelphia

One year after Trump’s inauguration, hundreds of women and allies packed the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia for the 2nd annual Women’s March. Among them was our own community leader, Olivia Ponce, who addressed the crowd and urged us to remember the warriors we are descendants from and to embrace the “chingona” that resides within us as we fight back against sexism, xenophobia, and racism. You can read her moving speech in full below.

“Good afternoon everyone, my name is Olivia Ponce.

Several years ago I joined a local community organization by the name of Juntos, which exists to build the leadership of Latino immigrants in Philadelphia and to fight for our rights. I am proud of being a leader in my community in Juntos, and I am proud to be standing here today, with you, even though I know my existence is everything Trump and the rest of his sexist and racist administration hates. I am a person of color. I am an immigrant and I am a woman.

I was a 25-year-old mother when I made the difficult decision to leave Mexico and come to the U.S. Yes, it was difficult. It was difficult to leave everyone that I knew and loved, including my daughter and my parents who were getting older, not knowing when I would ever see her or them again.

Many immigrant stories are the same as mine; we leave the place and people we love because U.S. interventions and U.S.-led wars make it impossible for many of us to survive back home. Borders do not exist when you are thinking about the future of your child.  And I need everyone here to know: it takes immense courage to make that journey, especially as women. Many women who cross are vulnerable to assaults, to rape and even to death. But courage, strength, and determination are the basic ingredients that make up every woman here. Yes, we all have to deal with sexism. Yet, women of color, Black and Latina women in particular, have to deal with racism too and as immigrant women, our mere existence is criminalized every day in this country.  But, we are not victims! We are the descendants of grand warriors and their blood runs through our veins and it is that history that makes us strong.

I am blessed to say that my daughter is with me now in the U.S. She joined me several years after I came and she is such a source of inspiration for me. It is from her fearlessness in fighting for our community that I learned to not be afraid, to speak up and to raise my voice.

So, to all the beautiful women out here today, I want you to know that when I fight, I fight for ALL OF YOU! That is why I ask that when you fight, you be sure that you fight for all of us too. Find your inner warrior, cross your own borders and let’s fight together because the only way we will win is if we work together.

Thank you”

Join Juntos on MLK Day & the Women’s March This Month

 

Join Juntos on MLK Day & the Women’s March This Month

 

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The late Martin Luther King Jr. wrote these words in his letter from a Birmingham jail back in 1963. Now in 2018, these words have never rang truer.

Within the first week of the new year, we have seen that the Trump administration is wasting no time in continuing their onslaught of hate. This means that we must not waste any time in fighting back against any injustice coming from them. Please join us at two important upcoming events this month us as we, along with many other communities in our city, resist against hate.

  • On Monday, January 15th our Executive Director, Erika Almiron, will be one of the speakers during “A People’s Call to Action Rally and Teach-Ins organized by our friends at POWER.
    The event will take place at Dobbins Technical High School at 2150 W Lehigh Ave at 1:00 pm.
  • On Saturday, January 20th Juntos Community Leader Olivia Ponce, will be speaking during the “2018 Women’s March On Philadelphia.” The march will take place at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway here in Philadelphia starting at 10:30 am.

We hope you are able to join us during these two incredible events as we remember and honor the legacy of those who have come before us and march towards a brighter future together.

Join the Juntos Board

Help Build the Resistance, Join the Juntos Board of Directors!

 

While there were many dark moments, last year we fought back against hate and injustice with powerful acts of resistance such as taking the streets during Philadelphia’s largest pro-immigrant rally or knocking on over 3,000 doors in 48 hours informing their neighbors of their rights. It takes people who are committed to fighting for justice to make change possible, which is why this year we are excited to announce that we are currently accepting applications for new members to our Board of Directors.

In offering an open and accessible application to the local Philadelphia community, the current Juntos Board hopes to recruit new board members with a clear dedication to our mission and values as an organization.

Applicants interested in serving on the Juntos Board should familiarize themselves with the mission and history of Juntos, rules, and expectations of board membership, and submit along a letter of interest along with your application by February 1st, 2018. Please note that serving on the Juntos Board is a volunteer commitment and completely unpaid.

If you are passionate about social justice work, immigrant rights, or are seeking to make a greater impact in your community this new year, consider submitting an application using the form below.

Thank you for your work and commitment to justice and liberation.