Community Victory! After 144 Days in Detention, Israel Comes Home to His Family.
JuntosRead more here: Man jailed for deportation returns to Norristown(Philadelphia Inquirer)
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
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.”
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