VICTORY: ICE Shut down in Philadelphia

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Yesterday, on the Eve of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, many brave and courageous leaders of Juntos, along with many of our supporters, used their bodies to block ICE deportation vehicles at the downtown Philadelphia ICE headquarters, just as they prepared to transfer immigrant detainees. Our heroes were prepared to risk arrest because they are tired of President Obama’s dragent programs, like “Secure Communities,” or “S-COMM,” as well as the negative impacts Immigration (ICE) Holds, one of the ways police & ICE collaborate under S-COMM, have on our community.

Despite efforts to intimidate Juntos leaders with federal arrests, we stayed strong, held our ground and ICE, the Department of Homeland Security and local Police in the end had to disperse. Yesterday we learned that an organized community is a strong community. Now is the time for President Obama to stop the deportations that tear apart our community and our families and if he won’t stop the deportations, we will.

This is just the beginning. Juntos and others from across the nation will continue to fight back against unjust deportations until Obama listens. And here in Philadelphia we will also work to ensure that local leaders respond to our communities demands of ending local collaboration between police and ICE. We look forward to participating in the upcoming City Council hearings to address this and also look forward to developing solutions, like ending ALL ICE Holds in the city of Philadelphia.

We at Juntos would like to also thank every person who braved the cold yesterday for hours to stand with us as we demanded better for our community. Thank you to everyone who supported us; supporters, allies, artists, students, and most importantly, thank you to the brave individuals who stood up to ICE. We believe your message was heard across the nation; NOT ONE MORE DEPORTATION!

To read more about the event yesterday, see below for press coverage.

Univisión 65: Manifestación
The Philadelphia Inquirer: Protesters gather outside Phila. immigration office
The Daily News: Immigrant-rights advocates block ICE vehicle exits
Al Dia Newspaper: Piden a la Virgen detener deportaciones
NBC 10: Protestors Block Transfer of Immigrant Detainees
NBC 10: Family’s Deportation Experience
CBS3: Protesters Disrupt Traffic Outside ICE Building In Center City
6ABC: Protestors block ICE building in Spring Garden

Our Right to be Here: Deportations and Identifications

License Checkpoint this Spring in Norristown

License Checkpoint this Spring in Norristown

Every year Juntos supports over 300 families through moments of crisis, including deportations.  Not having a valid local identification or a driver’s license, when encountering local police at a traffic stop or in the community, is where many of our deportation cases begin.  In the almost twelve years since the founding of Juntos our community has fought back against thousands of deportations in the state of Pennsylvania that have broken apart our families and have left many young people without one or both parents to support them. That is why Juntos community leaders have identified deportations as the number one issue to address and ultimately build power to ensure the end of policies and practices that separate our families.

Just this past year, through the dedicated involvement of Juntos leaders, we were able to secure a huge victory in Norristown, PA to end the practice of local police working with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) at traffic checkpoints for driver’s licenses.  It was here that the intersections of deportations and identification were made glaringly apparent when we heard story after story of families torn apart because a family member was pulled over and, because of not having a driver’s license, then entered into deportation proceedings.  We have also had similar instances in Philadelphia of individuals who entered into deportation proceedings because on traffic stops or accidents.  Many times we have been witness to deportations starting because of interaction with local police and lack of identification.  There have been numerous cases of individuals who have been booked into custody for either having no ID or for showing their country of origin’s ID, which leads to questions pertaining to immigration status, even though the city of Philadelphia has a directive for police to not ask these questions.

That is why in Juntos we see the issue of addressing lack of local identification and driver’s licenses directly connected to the work we do to stop deportations just as much as we see the need for immigration reform policies that prioritizes ending the deportation machine and the ending of policies like Secure Communities and the voluntary practice of ICE holds that decimate our communities’ right to due process.

Several years ago, when thousands of immigrant Pennsylvanians were illegally stripped of their legally obtained driver’s licenses by Penndot, Juntos was there with the leaders who fought back.  Six of these brave individuals made it to the PA Supreme Court and fought back in a landmark case to keep their licenses; and won. Just this year state legislation was introduced, due to the diligent work of hundreds of leaders from across the state of Pennsylvania (from Philadelphia, Norristown, Easton, and Allentown to name a few) to pass an unmarked driver’s license in Pennsylvania.  Many other states have already passed similar legislation targeted at building trust between immigrant communities and different municipalities.  At the same time, a Municipal ID Bill was introduced in the city of Philadelphia that, if passed, will help thousands of Philadelphians, including young people, the elderly and immigrants, to access necessary & vital resources.

For all of these reasons, we stand in solidarity with all of the leaders who see the need to fight for our human right to remain with our families and our right to be here, in the place we call home. Juntos will continue to fight, just as we encourage all of our community to do so, on issues that our community deems as vital and important and to ending deportations by addressing the root causes of our struggle so we may live the lives we are all meant to live; dignified ones.

Philly Votes for First Ever Public Hearings on Police/ICE Collaboration; Introduces ID Bill for ALL

PRESS RELEASE

Philly Votes for First Ever Public Hearing on Police/ICE Collaboration; Introduces ID Bill for ALL

Philadelphia, PA—November 21, 2013 — For the first time in Philadelphia’s history City Council voted unanimously to hold public hearings on the collaboration between the Philadelphia Police Department and Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). The resolution calling for the hearings was introduced by Councilmember Kenney and approved by all members.  Also, on the same morning, Councilmember Quinones-Sanchez introduced a bill that would supply all Philadelphia residents a municipal ID. With both of these introduced today, immigrant communites are hopeful with the direction our City Council has taken to address the many concerns immigrant communites have about deportations and equal treatment

“Since the introduction of the program Secure Communities in Philadelphia, many families have been broken apart by the collaboration between local police and ICE.  This means many single parent households are struggling to put food on the table now, all due to what has been nationally called a failed program.  We are glad to see that our city council is taking the appropriate steps to finally hear from community and experts on why all police and immigration collaboration needs to end,” said Jasmine Rivera, lead organizer of Juntos.

Celia Mota, a community leader with New Sanctuary Movement, echoed these statements. “This new initiative demonstrates that politicians are paying attention to our organizing and hopefully will feel committed to treating us differently,” Mota said. “I think Councilman Kenney for understanding the great needs we experience in immigrant communities and for working with us to have justice for all members of the Philadelphia community.”

The Municipal ID bill also introduced today affect immigrant communities greatly. Many families enter into deportation proceeding for lack of government issued ID’s, like a driver’s license.  Having access to a municpal ID would allow for many to access critical services without fear of deportation.  Many cities across the country have already passed similar bills and have seen an increase in public safety.

Both Juntos and New Sancturary Movement of Philadelphia are in support of both the historic hearings being set and the introduction of a municipal ID.  Brenda Hernandez, youth leader of Juntos said “If we ever hope to become a truly immigrant-friendly city, then we must ensure our city treats everyone equally. Ending the destructive practice of deporting our family members and issuing our community municipal IDs are great places to start in making sure that becomes a reality.”