Philadelphia Stands United, Rejects Hate Mongering That Results In Broken Families

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Community Based Healing not Unconstitutional Rollbacks

By the Philadelphia Family Unity Network

The recent killing of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco by Francisco Sanchez is a terrible and senseless tragedy. The pain her family must be experiencing is unimaginable, and they should be afforded the respect and decency of mourning in their own chosen way.

As a coalition of organizations with over a decade of experience working with survivors of violence, we had no intention of inserting our voices into such a heartbreaking and private moment. After repeated requests from the press and local politicians who have been misinformed by those who choose to exploit this moment for political gain, we felt the need to briefly address some misconceptions.

The Philadelphia Family Unity Network (PFUN) is a coalition that worked with the Mayor’s administration and local advocates to successfully end all Philadelphia Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holds in April 2014. We are immigrant community leaders and young people, documented and undocumented, allies, grassroots immigrant organizations, advocates for the needs of victims and witnesses to crimes, people of faith, leaders focused on the intersection between incarceration and deportation, and policy advocates.

We hold a community-based vision of safety, healing, and justice. We are called by a shared belief that our community’s healing comes from addressing root causes of violence, that we need to end the criminalization of our communities and that all people, regardless of immigration status or criminal conviction should remain with their chosen communities. While we hold people accountable to their actions and crimes, we recognize that violence stems from trauma, from poverty caused by devastating economic policies, war, forced migration, systematically segregated and underfunded communities and racist immigration policies and a criminal justice system that separates and destroy families and communities.

Secure Communities and the ICE holds program are failed policies. ICE holds have been repeatedly found to be unconstitutional, and to be a driving force behind the breakdown in trust between immigrant residents and local government. Communities organized to fight these policies across the country, and they succeeded. To go back and repeat these destructive policies only opens up possibilities for more abuses against our communities while avoiding the deeper causes of violence, as well as leaving our city vulnerable to lawsuits for violations of people’s rights. We need policies that reflect our values as a society, that honor our community’s dignity, that respects the diversity of our lives and are grounded in the belief of redemption.

 

The tragedy of Kathryn Steinle’s death should not be manipulated by those who see this as an opportunity to push a political agenda. Creating safer communities is a goal shared across the divisions some seek to exploit. PFUN will continue to push for meaningful reform and dialogue toward this end.

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The Philadelphia Family Unity Network (PFUN) is a grassroots coalition that ended all ICE holds in Philadelphia in April 2014. PFUN is 1 Love Movement, Juntos, New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, and Victim/Witness Services of South Philadelphia.

 

Obama, Until We Are All Free #Not1More

JuntosDC

Obama, Until We Are All Free #Not1More

Just shy of a year ago Juntos leaders sent a clear message to the President and to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) by using their bodies in an act of civil disobedience to shut down the regional ICE headquarters. Leaders declared if Obama would not act to end the deportations and the suffering of our community, we would end them ourselves. Locally, we worked in coalition to break down police/ICE collaboration, established through the federal program “Secure Communities,” and in April won an end to the use of ICE Holds here and in Norristown.  Our community has worked hard this year to see this happen; it has been their courage that has bought us to this day, a day many believed would not happen.

Over the years families have held vigils, press conferences and actions to stop the deportation of their loved ones. Thousands have traveled to Washington DC to demand Obama use his executive power to halt the deportations. Some have risked arrest, others were arrested in front of the White House to send a direct message to Obama, many organized and mobilized to end the use of ICE Holds, spoke truth to power in our city, and all have proven that the power of change comes from our community, their love of the people and their vision for a better world for all of us.

And now, as we wait in anticipation for President Obama to use his executive power and provide relief to our families, we feel honored to have stood with so many courageous warriors who have been declaring this possible from the beginning.  It is because of you that we are here today. It is because of your relentless energy that this day has come. Thank you!

As we have already heard through various media outlets, what will be announced tonight and tomorrow will not encompass our whole community. And while we are overjoyed for the families that this announcement will support and offer them some relief, our hearts also lay heavy with the many people we love in our community who may not qualify.  That is how we know our work is not done. When we declare Not One More Deportation, we mean just that. We make a commitment in Juntos to ensure those in our community who do qualify can apply and for those who don’t, we will continue fighting.

No matter what the President says today, we will fight until every family is together again, until our loved ones are released from detention, until the deportations end, until all of our people have the right to vote, until all of our young people have access to higher education, until all our community love whomever they want free from fear, until young people from Ayotzinapa to Ferguson can feel safe in their communities and until we are all free. #Not1more

Sincerely,

Juntos

PS.  Please join us tomorrow at 11am in front of the ICE Building on 16th and Callowhill as we demand the release of our loved ones from detention and we let those still detained know that we will CHANT DOWN THE WALLS until they come home.

PSS. Juntos depends on you to keep organizing, mobilizing and building community power. Please donate to Juntos today to ensure we keep fighting for everyone in our community. #SiSePuede

 

Has ICE gone rogue? Report and anonymous letters seem to agree

Has ICE gone rogue? Report and anonymous letters seem to agree

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In the six months, since the passing of Philadelphia’s historic ICE Holds executive order, over 200 locals across the country have adopted similar policies limiting the interactions between ICE and local police departments and jails. Also, in the last six months, community members and immigration reform leaders in Philadelphia as well as across the country have seen shifts in ICE’s tactics to continue to meet their draconian deportation quota.

Juntos worked with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network on a recently released report, “Destructive Delay”, which shows the real human cost of delays in Washington. As the President continues to postpone actions ICE agents are increasingly becoming more aggressive to expand their reach. The cost includes further civil rights violations at the hands of ICE officials as they attempt to continue to reach their quota at any cost.

“Our community has been asked to wait for President Obama to act on relief from deportations until the time is politically right. We are asked to wait to reform immigration policies that he himself has called “inhumane” and meanwhile, ICE agents are again eroding trust between communities and local government with new tactics that violate our civil and human rights.” said Erika Almiron, Executive Director of Juntos.

Pennsylvania families, who have family members in deportation proceedings, shared their stories, how these new tactics have impacted their lives and shared their reactions to the report’s findings.  Thomas Decker, ICE’s local Field Office Director, was invited to respond to the communities concerns and correct the rogue behavior illustrated in the report but was unable to attend. Juntos has received two anonymous letters within the last five weeks from what appears to be someone in working within Immigration Customs and Enforcement. The letters confirm what community, organizers and lawyers in the greater Philadelphia area suspected, that there continues to be collaboration with ICE and the criminal justice system in certain locales in Pennsylvania.

One letter states that an ICE supervisor performed a joint operation with the police “to clean up the illegal Mexican population” in Norristown, a municipality 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Another letter denounces collaboration between ICE and jails in Montgomery, Chester and Bucks Counties. It claims that every time a person with a foreign name, mainly Latino, is released immigration is called and given a two-hour notice. “As they walk out, immigration arrests them. Everyone at the jails knows this and do not want to post bail (for those arrested) because they are scared,” reads the letter. “There are people whose cases were dismissed and immigration was still called and arrested them as they were going home.”

Pilar Molina, Juntos leader, said, “We are sending a message to the local Philadelphia ICE office. Your rogue tactics will not be tolerated in our communities. Practices that rely heavily on racial profiling harm our families and must be ended. We will not stop until you are out of our communities and our families are safe.”

The full report can be found at: http://www.notonemoredeportation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Destructive-Delay-final1.pdf

 

Dear President Obama

 

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Dear Mr. President,

 

Your decision to wait until the end of summer to delay administrative relief for our communities and to stall the review of the racist policies and procedures of the Department of Homeland Security’s programs like Secure Communities is a clear indicator to our community that you are okay with thousands of more families being separated and the continued violations of our human rights.  Since your election you have promised to support our community in changing a punitive immigration system but all you have really done so far is deport over 2 million people and have thousands of community members human rights violated.

 

This stall tactic, supported by organizations deep in your administration’s pockets, will not work to bring Republicans to the negotiating table. These organizations who have come out in support of you and your decision to prolong the suffering of our communities are more interested in playing party politics and remaining in your good graces. We, on the other hand, are interested in ensuring that all our people have access to their rights, their families, and a dignified life.

 

It has always been clear that we cannot depend on either party to act in the best interest of our people; that is historic to this nation. But we will not remain silent. True change can only happen when we as a community fight back and force those in power to act in the best interest of society.  We have done that and will continue to do so until we end ALL deportations and human rights violations against our community.

 

Mr. President, you DO have the power to take executive action NOW to end ALL deportations. Every day you do not act 1,100 people are funneled through your deportation machine so we urge you to act now, as no amount of stalling or political maneuvering can stop us from organizing for the rights of our people.

 

Sincerely,

Juntos