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