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”

May 1st: Statement of Resistance!

This May 1, 2017 the city of Philadelphia and hundreds of cities across the country will be participating in a national day of action. Locally, in Philadelphia, Juntos and Black & Brown Workers Collective along with our allies will stand together in the name of resistance for a day without immigrant, Black & Brown bodies. This is in effort to highlight the unilateral attacks that the administration has committed against not just immigrant communities, but Black & Brown communities, our LGBTQ family, HIV positive people, Muslims, women, young people, workers and many more. Together we make up over 75% of our city’s population.  We are the majority.

We are standing in collective power against the terrorist deportation machine that has been passed down through different administrations, anti-black policies/practices, and the genocidal and colonialist foundation of this country, which continues to inform those in power.  We stand together to show that we as a people are worth more than our labor that our value comes from being human beings. We will not allow any one of our community members to be scapegoated and targeted because the liberation of our people is tied together and if one of us is targeted, none of us are safe.

On May 1st we will use our collective economic power to shake this nation to its core but there are many ways you can be a part of this resistance movement. Funnel your energy into actions like walkouts, boycotts, strikes, marches, town halls, etc. and point them all towards building coalitions focused on dismantling all the mechanisms in place that serve only to criminalize us, incarcerate us or deport us.

It is important to note the complex and complicated histories of Black people and African Americans in the U.S. Black bodies whose blood lines have been displaced through slavery and through forced economic violence must be honored in this struggle, must be lifted up in this struggle and in the broader sanctuary movement and while our individual struggles play out differently in the types of violence suffered by our people, collectively we ALL have a stake in the broader struggle for freedom.  America was never great. It was founded and built on the genocide of our indigenous peoples, on slavery and the forced migration of people caused by the U.S.’s socio-economic policies that have decimated the global south.

But collectively we can demand that it bends to the will of the people. Black and Brown communities have for far too long been pitted against each other in an effort to to keep us all oppressed. We will not be silenced. We will not be scared into compliance.  We WILL NOT let history repeat itself. All Power to the People!

Yours in the Struggle for Liberation,

Black and Brown Workers Collective and Juntos

BREAKING NEWS: Pennsylvania Strikes Major Blow to Family Detention Centers

Blogpost Berks Press Release

Pennsylvania Strikes Major Blow to Family Detention Centers

Berks Detention Center Denied Expansion and Warned of Shut Down Through Letter Issued By PA Dept. of Human Services. 

Philadelphia, PA — After months of demanding the shut down of Berks County Family Detention Center, a prison that has violated the human rights of those inside; from medical neglect of children and parents to labor abuses of the detainees and a rape of a 19 year old by a county guard, the PA Department of Human Services finally issued a statement in regards to the illegal licensing of the center. In the summer of 2014 an institutional sexual assault occurred inside the walls of the center of a 19 year old in front of other detainees, which prompted the attention of many attorneys and community groups to react and demand answers. This was then followed by the rampant medical neglect of children which led to a child vomiting blood for four days before receiving proper medical attention and after much labor abuse at the hands of the center, in which they paid women $1 a day to clean the facilities, by June of 2015 20 detainees launched a work strike until they were released. All the time PA DHS stood by and watched, never issuing a report on these violations. Today is a major victory, as they finally have recognized what this coalition has said for months, Berks County Family Detention Center should have their license revoked.

Outside the detention center the Coalition to Shut Down Berks has held rallies with hundreds of community members demanding the closure while inside families organized demanding their freedom. Protests, concerts and vigils were held and in September coalition members (which include Juntos, GALAEI, Pennsylvania Immigrant and Citizenship Coalition, UUPlan, Migrant Power Movement, Sheller Center for Social Justice, We Belong Together, #Not1More, Detention Watch Network and Human Rights First ) delivered the Human Rights First report “Family Detention in Berks County Pennsylvania,” which details the rampant abuses occurring inside, to PA DHS offices in Philadelphia with an official ask to shut down the center immediately.

“This affirms the demands we have made to shut down the Berks Family Detention Center and shows that DHS should have never licensed the facility to begin with. It also shows that Texas DHS should not be licensing the detention centers and that Berks is not the model institution ICE has claimed it to be. How can it be with all the human rights abuses occurring inside? What it doesn’t show is that ICE has any intention of changing their behavior towards our families. Ted Dallas does not need to wait until February to release our families or to shut down Berks. We say not one more day in detention for our families and if he doesn’t shut it down immediately, we will see him as we march in Harrisburg in November ” said Erika Almiron, Executive Director of Juntos.

Jennifer Lee, Legal Director of the Sheller Center for Social Justice of Temple University Beasley School of Law, said, “The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services has aided in the confinement of immigrant children and families. It has done so by licensing the BCRC, ironically, under rules enacted to “protect the health, safety, and well-being of children.” We call on Ted Dallas, Secretary of PA DHS, to end State support for family detention by immediately revoking the BCRC’s license, releasing immigrant families, and closing the facility.”

The Shut Down Berks Campaign is a grassroots coalition fighting to Shut Down Berks Family Detention Center immediately and end family detention. Members include Juntos, GALAEI, Pennsylvania Immigrant and Citizenship Coalition, UUPlan, Migrant Power Movement, Sheller Center for Social Justice, We Belong Together, #Not1More, Detention Watch Network and Human Rights First. We want to also thank all the pro-bono attorneys who have worked tirelessly to represent the families in detention or in deportation proceedings; Caitlin Barry, David Bennion, Jackie Kline, Bridget Cambria and Carol Anne Donahue.

Organizations who have Signed on to the Shut Down Berks Campaign

1love Movement

Action AIDS

ACTION United

Buxmont UUF Peace and Justice Committee

Casa San Jose

Cambria and Kline Law

Central American Resource Center (CARECEN)

Coalition of African Communities in Philadelphia (AFRICOM)

Comite de Lucha Pro Licencia, Harrisburg

Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Department of Anthropology – Georgetown University

Detention Watch Network

Disciples of Christ Refugee and Immigration Ministries

Families for Freedom

GALAEI

Georgia Detention Watch

Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights

Grassroots Leadership

Human Rights First

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Jarochicanos

JJ Tiziou Photography

Juntos

Keystone Progress

Latino Advocacy

Law Office of Karenina Wolff, Esq

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Michelle Angela Ortiz

Mina Mart

Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment

Migrant Power Movement

National Korean American Service and Education Consortium

National Justice for Our Neighbors

National Latino Network: Casa de Esperanza

New Sanctuary Coalition of NY

New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia

Not1more

NWDC Resistance

Pathways

PCCY

Pennsylvania NOW

Philadelphia Family Unity Network

Philadelphia JACL

PICC

Pittsburgh LCLAA

Philadelphia Student Union

Raices

Restaurant Opportunity Center of Philadelphia

Sisters of the School of Notre Dame

Society of the Holy Child Jesus

South Philly Barbacoa

Taller Puertoriqueno

Taqueria Los Jimadores

Taquitos de Puebla

Therapy Center of Philadelphia

Tortilleria La Familia LLC

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

US Human Rights Network

UUPLAN

Victim/Witness Services of South Philadelphia

We Belong Together

William Way Community Center

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.