Family torn apart by ICE, but the fight against deportations continues!

Photo by Univision 65 Philadelphia

Photo by Univision 65 Philadelphia

At 6am this morning Pablo Fabian Cardenas was put on a plane to Ecuador by ICE and deported, leaving behind his wife and two sons, Ismael and Erick.

Maria Elena, Pablo’s wife, wanted to share this message to all of you:

“I want to thank each and every one of you for all the support you gave me and my family during this difficult time, for all the calls and signatures that were made. I know that my husband thanks you all as well. God bless you for all your efforts. We must keep fighting.”

At Juntos, we agree with Maria Elena. She’s a clear example of the strength and dedication our families have to stay together and fight back against the deportation machine.

By following through with this deportation, ICE has made it abundantly clear that their priorities are not about justice but are and have always been about tearing apart families.  We can’t let that happen. We must fight for our loved ones. As the Executive Order is held up in court, essentially stalling relief for millions of people, enforcement has increased.

Pablo was not just victim to an unjust immigration system but also of an unjust criminal system, one that has historically abused people of color and was built for many like him to enter but for very few to ever get out.

Please don’t let this be the last case you support. We didn’t stop Pablo’s removal, but there’s still a chance for Pedro in Connecticut.  Please click here and sign for him. Maria Elena, Pablo and their family would want that.

En la lucha,
Erika, Miguel, Jasmine and the rest of the Juntos family

Juntos’ Reaction on Anti-Immigrant Political Stunt in TX


In reaction to the recent decision in Texas by Judge Andrew Hanan, to enjoin President Obama’s Executive Action on immigration, Juntos issues the following statement:

The decision by Judge Hanen comes as no surprise and is a clear example of anti-immigrant sentiment in this country that goes all the way up to our judicial system. We know that this lawsuit is nothing but a political stunt that represents out of touch anti-immigrant elected officials across this country. This is about politics: not law, not justice.  Hundreds of legal scholars have already agreed, way before this decision was made, that the President’s executive action is constitutional and well within his authority. We are confident that this decision will be overturned promptly by appeal.We as a community are unfortunately used to racist and anti-immigrant tactics like this one to stall the progress made by our growing and vocal community.

Here in Pennsylvania we have had to deal with anti-immigrant sentiments like bills SB-9 and Arizona’s SB1070 predecessors in Hazelton, PA as well as the hyper criminalization of our people in the immigration and criminal system and all the way to local Philadelphia columnists using words like “illegal” to describe our families.  All of these measures are scare tactics used by the extreme right, just as the injunction in Texas is an attempt to scare our families into not applying for DACA and DAPA….but we don’t scare so easily.  We were not afraid to shut down ICE before to stop our families from being deported, we were not afraid to fight against the injustice of the Poli-migra in our community and to fight for the end of the use of ICE Holds, and we are not scared now. We will continue to work to defend our families until ALL 11 million + of our undocumented brothers and sister have access to a full and dignified life in this country and until the suffering of mass deportations have ended.

Thousands upon thousands of families are affected by this decision in Philadelphia and in the state of Pennsylvania thousands more.  Our families will keep getting ready to apply and getting their documents in order, as we know this is only temporary. We thank Mayor Nutter for being one of the Mayors who filed an amicus brief in support of Deferred Action and for having Philadelphia, one of the largest cities in this country, serve as an example to others on how to work with community to make the changes needed to be a more welcoming city to immigrants. As the legal battle continues we call upon other elected officials to take the necessary steps to protect immigrants from the deportation machine, including the President of the United States and we urge the 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals to take this case up immediately because millions of people cannot wait any longer.

En la Lucha,

Obama, Until We Are All Free #Not1More


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



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


Stu Bykofsky’s Irresponsible Rhetoric has Real Consequences

Stu Bykofsky’s Irresponsible Rhetoric has Real Consequences

When I read Stu Bykofsky’s column “Am I Anti-Latino?” I couldn’t help but think about Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala. I would bet that Mr. Bykofsky and many don’t remember that name, but for most in Philadelphia’s Latino and immigrant community, it is one we will never forget.

In 2008, the world was shaken by the death of this 25-year-old man in a little town outside of Philadelphia: Shenandoah. Luis Eduardo was attacked by several young men who repeatedly punched and kicked him in the head while screaming racial slurs, such as “Go back to Mexico” and “Tell your f—ing Mexican friends to get the f— out of Shenandoah.” Two days later he died, leaving behind a wife and two children.

Local police first denied that the attacks were racially motivated and many anti-immigrant groups came to the defense of the assailants, stating that they were not anti-Latino but that their actions were justified because of Luis Eduardo’s immigration status. Eventually the Department of Justice was called to investigate and, in the end, the assailants as well as three police officers were convicted of federal hate crimes as well as obstruction of justice.

In the past six months Mr. Bykofsky has referenced the organization where I serve as executive director, Juntos, and our work several times. In his descriptions, he has used words like “illegalistas,” “illegal-immigrant sympathizers,” “foreign-criminal enablers” and “gangbangers and others who threaten the community” to describe us and the work we do. Now that he is asking if he is anti-Latino, especially because our organization is so regularly a target of his intolerance, we felt the necessity to respond. The answer is, unequivocally, yes. We see the words in his columns and those used by Luis Eduardo’s killers to be more similar than different and certainly just as dangerous.

Recent reports have shown that hate crimes against Latinos are on the rise. In 2011, the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice found that there were higher rates of anti-Latino hate crimes in places with higher rates of Latino migration, and that there is a direct correlation between these incidents and the tone of the immigration debate. In 2012, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that the number of hate crimes hasn’t changed – the targets have – and recent census numbers have shown an increase in Philadelphia’s population, attributing it to the growth in immigration; not just here but in many places across the state, like Norristown, Allentown and Reading.

Furor stoked over immigration reform and irresponsible rhetoric has real consequences. Perhaps to Mr. Bykofsky this is a question of different politics but for those of us he writes about, it can be the difference between life and death.

As the world mourns the assassination of young Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., by the local police, we can begin to see the connections. What happened in Ferguson and what happened in Shenandoah occurred because of very deep, historical and structural racism that, in 2014, still infects our society with hatred and fear. It is persisting hatred and fear that has led to the sharp rise in hate crimes against Latino immigrants and that results in a black person being murdered by police, security guards or vigilantes every 28 hours in the US. Make no mistake: What ends in violent acts begins as unchecked intolerance.

The same day that the Daily News printed Mr. Bykofsky’s column in which he names and attacks Juntos, we were interrupted and shaken by threatening phone calls we received from people who felt emboldened by Mr. Bykofsky’s position and chose to let us know that we as a staff in Juntos and our community as a whole are both disposable and to be disposed of.

The question isn’t “Is Bykofsky Anti-Latino?” That answer is self-evident in the fact that he felt the need to ask. The question is why any newspaper would allow itself to be a vehicle for his rhetoric that is normalizing and fomenting an anti-Latino environment in Philadelphia. The city has no room for such divisions between our communities and neither should the Daily News. Instead of giving credence to his irresponsible opinionating, the paper should make it clear that “Am I anti-Latino?” is why he will be asking “Why am I out of a job?” and terminate his tenure immediately.

Failing to do so would be an endorsement of his recklessness and leave readers wondering not just if one columnist is racist but whether the entire paper itself is anti-Latino.