Petition to stop poli-migra in Florida

Guest post by Grey Torrico, Collier County Neighborhood Stories Project

I have lived in Collier County (southwest coast of Florida) for 18 years, and I grew up living with fear of our own police department.   But things are much worse now than they have ever been because of the poli-migra effect.

What is the poli-migra effect?  In 2007, our local law enforcement signed a collaboration agreement with ICE, called 287(g).  It gives police the power to act as immigration officers, which has led to putting up checkpoints in Latino areas like Immokalee; harassing community members who don’t have documents; and detaining immigrants at our local jail for months at a time, only for being undocumented, even though they should be low-priority.

My community is so tired of being terrorized by the poli-migra, that in the last 6 months we have stepped up to call for an end to police-ICE collaborations.

The moment has finally come to end this once and for all, and we need your help!  The 287(g) agreements expire in January 2013, and our friends at the ACLU of Florida created a petition asking Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio to allow them to expire and not expand any further.

Read and sign the petition now.

FLIC demonstrators with banner My county is not the only one in Florida with poli-migra; there are three total.  If we let these agreements be renewed, or even expand to other counties, they will turn Florida into a copy of Arizona, county by county.  We need our local police to really concentrate on our public safety, not harassing our communities or separating families.

This is our chance to stop the 287(g) agrements, and YOU can help us make a difference.  Say NO to poli-migra in Florida!  Sign the petition before this Friday, December 7th: https://www.aclu.org/secure/FL-End-287g-anti-immigrant-agreements-petition

All our signatures will be sent to Senators Nelson and Rubio with a letter signed by several organizations in Florida.  If you are part of an organization that would like to sign-on, click here to download the letter to print and send me your name, organization and location to grey@floridaimmigrant.org no later than this Friday, December 7th at 9 a.m.

You can learn more about the local work that is being done around the poli-migra effect by visiting the Collier County Neighborhood Stories Project at www.collierstoriesmatter.org

¡Sin Papeles, Sin Miedo!

El pasado Domingo 26 de Agosto, a pesar de la fuerte lluvia y viento que trajo la tormenta tropical Issac, un grupo de 30 valientes adultos y chicos de la comunidad inmigrante de Homestead y miembros de WeCount! salió a manifestarse en frente La Michoacana Ice Cream Shop en contra la implementación del programa de inmigración “Comunidades Seguras” (S-Comm) y en apoyo a la Caravana SIN PAPELES, SIN MIEDO (UndocuBus), una caravana de inmigrantes indocumentados que actualmente viaja desde Arizona a Carolina del Norte atravesando los estados del sur llevando un mensaje de valentía y amor sobreponiéndose al racismo y odio contra los indocumentados.

“Estamos en solidaridad con los pasajeros del UNDOCUBUS. Su valentia y corage nos inspiró a estar presentes hoy dia a pesar del mal tiempo y los riegos. No tenemos mas nada que perder…solo el miedo,” dijo Brenda Narvaez, estudiante y joven lider de WeCount! 

“Si tuvimos el coraje de salir de nuestro país y dejar a nuestras familias para buscar un mejor futuro aquí en Estados Unidos, también debemos tener el valor de defender nuestro derecho a permanecer aquí con nuestras familias y con dignidad. No podemos seguir viviendo en las sombras,” dijo Selina Villa, una de las líderes del grupo de mujeres WeCount!.

“No le debemos nada a este país…este país nos debe a nosotros! Tanta humillación y abuso. Yo no tengo miedo!” dijo Joe Delgado, inmigrante indocumentado que ha vivido en Homestead muchos años y  líder de WeCount!

Los participantes también protestaron contra el aumento de los ataques contra las comunidades latinas e inmigrantes por parte de las fuerzas locales de policía en colaboración con ICE, y pidieron apoyo a los oficiales electos locales. También, pidieron a Obama que pare las deportaciones y que cumpla sus promesas.

“Este es nuestro país, aquí trabajamos, y aquí vivimos. Tenemos derechos. No tenemos miedo. Obama es tiempo que cumplas con tus promesas!”,dijo Felipa Tomas una de las lideres del grupo de mujeres de WeCount!.

“Nuestro evento fue una victoria inmensa en contra del miedo impuesto sobre nuestra gente. Todas y todos los presentes entienden la importancia de salir de la sombras y de luchar por una vida justa y digna. Nada o nadie nos va a parar, ni la migra, la policía, o el huracán. Dios está de nuestra parte. Homestead es ahora oficialmente parte del sentimiento de justicia pro-inmigrante que está basado en la valentía y no en el miedo y la súplica. Sin papeles y Sin Miedo” dijo Lis-Marie Alvarado.

Corte Suprema dice sí a la discriminación racial, por ahora

Residentes de la Florida seguirán luchando hasta que la Arizonificación sea historia

La Corte Suprema habló hoy por ambos lados de la boca. Por un lado, declaró inconstitucional cualquier intento de los estados de remplazar al Gobierno Federal en la definición de las leyes de inmigración. Pero, por otro lado, permitió temporalmente que la provisión de la ley SB 1070 sobre “muéstrame tus papeles” se implemente en Arizona y en otros estados con una similar a la SB 1070.

“La Corte Suprema no ha terminado de decidir si quiere estar del lado correcto de la historia o no”, dice María Rodríguez, Directora Ejecutiva de la Coalición de Inmigrantes de la Florida. “Pero al menos no permitirá que los políticos que predican el odio y apoyan las leyes de segregación y discriminación, pisoteen por completo la Constitución”.

La Corte Suprema declaró inconstitucionales las disposiciones de la SB 1070 de Arizona que convertían en un delito estatal el ser indocumentado y/o trabajar sin documentos. Asimismo, declaró inconstitucional la disposición que permitía los arrestos a inmigrantes indocumentados sin orden judicial. Aunque aun no declara la provisión de “muéstrame tus papeles” como constitucional, la Corte permitió que se implementara temporalmente mientras se sigue deliberando el tema en los tribunales inferiores bajo argumentos de derechos civiles.

En este link hay una excelente explicación sobre la decisión de la Corte Suprema y otra información relacionada con la ley SB1070 de Arizona.

“Como vimos en las batallas legales en contra de la segregación, le tomó casi 60 años a la Corte Suprema para decidir que las leyes de Jim Crow estaban equivocadas. Vamos a seguir luchando contra las leyes antiinmigrantes, anti-estadounidenses y discriminatorias, con plena confianza en que nuestros tribunales recobraran sus sentidos”, añade Rodríguez.

La Coalición de Inmigrantes de la Florida, junto con otros miembros y aliados de todo el estado, lideró la campaña “Somos Florida”, que en el 2011 movilizó a miles de residentes de la Florida para derrotar con éxito el intento de la legislatura de traer una ley similar a la SB 1070 de Arizona a nuestro estado. La oposición a esta ley que perjudicaría la economía y las comunidades de la Florida, también incluyo a empresarios, agricultores, funcionarios electos y líderes religiosos, entre otros.

“El perfil racial es una epidemia. La falta de reconocimiento de que pedir los papeles a cualquiera es inconstitucional profundiza esta crisis y mina nuestra seguridad”, concluye Rodríguez. “Estamos construyendo un movimiento social, naturalizando, registrando votantes y y efectivamente votando para acabar con el racismo y la exclusión en la Florida y en todo el país.”

Supreme Court Says Yes to Racial Profiling, For Now

Floridians will keep fighting Arizonification until it is history

The Supreme Court today spoke out of both sides of its mouth. It declared without question that states’ attempts to take away the Federal Government’s job of immigration enforcement are unconstitutional. But it also let the “show me your papers” provisions of SB 1070, temporarily stay on the books in Arizona and other states with an SB 1070 copycat.

“The Supreme Court hasn’t completely decided if it wants to be on the right side of history,” says Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director for the Florida Immigrant Coalition. “But at least it didn’t allow the politicians that preach hate and support Jim Crow’s cousin, Juan Crow, to completely trample on the Constitution.”

The Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the provisions in Arizona’s SB 1070 that made it a state crime to be undocumented and/or working without status. It also declared unconstitutional the provision that allowed warrantless arrests of undocumented immigrants.  While not declaring it constitutional, the Supreme Court allowed the “show me your papers” provisions to temporarily stand while they are still being fought on civil rights ground in the lower courts. Here is a very good breakdown of the ruling and other information about Arizona’s SB1070. 

“Like we saw in the legal battles against segregation, it took almost 60 years for the Supreme court to decide that Jim Crow was wrong. We will continue fighting anti-immigrant, anti-American and pro-racial profiling laws with full confidence that our Courts will come to their senses,” adds Rodriguez.

The Florida Immigrant Coalition, along with other members and allies throughout the state, led the “We are Florida” campaign that in 2011 mobilized thousands of every-day Floridians to successfully defeat the legislature’s attempt to bring an SB 1070 copycat law to the Sunshine state. The opposition to these bills that would hurt Florida’s economy and communities, also included business owners, growers, elected officials and religious leaders, among others.

“Racial profiling is already an epidemic. The failure to recognize ‘show me your papers’ provisions as unconstitutional will deepen the crisis and undermine our safety,” concludes Rodriguez. “We are building a social movement, naturalizing, registering and voting to end racism and exclusion in Florida and in throughout the country.”

Miami-Dade Police Racially Profiles Latino Drivers in Homestead

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/33188026]

 

We Count! denounces racial profiling by Miami-Dade Police towards latino drivers in Homestead, South Florida. Many Latinos are being stopped by police officers for no reason other than the color of their skin. Some of them are citizens or legal permanent residents. Others are undocumented who end up being deported and separated from their families only for not having a drivers license, all due to ICE’s Secure Communities program.

Documenting these abuses is the first step to stop them!

A petition will be delivered on to the Miami-Dade Police Department asking them to stop racial profiling against Latinos.

Model student Vanessa Nunez Faces Danger of Deportation

In the United States, turning 21 means partying, typically of a debauched sort. The last thing anyone expects is celebrating such a momentous occasion at an emergency press conference, where their fears of impending deportation are laid bare in front of the media. Yet for Vanessa Nunez, who is turning 21 on October 20th, it seems that this will very likely be the case.

Vanessa Nunez at a DREAM Act Rally

Vanessa is an undocumented student attending Miami Dade Community College and she and her sister are in danger of receiving an order of deportation within the next few weeks.

The two girls arrived in Miami at the age of 13 from Caracas, Venezuela with their mother to visit their brother, a permanent resident. Once in Miami, the family’s arduous and expensive efforts to stay in the country began. In 2006, they filed for political asylum. In 2007, the court denied them their papers. Undaunted, they filed an appeal in August 2009. When they were denied again, they re-applied for a motion to reconsider and re-open the case. In March 2010, they were denied once more.

Throughout the labyrinthine course of immigration proceedings her mother, a permanent resident managed to apply for citizenship, but because of procedural delays, she hasn’t received her citizenship yet, nor has Vanessa received any form of relief to be allowed to stay in the country.

“I was told that I had one month to apply to a federal court to review my case,” said Vanessa, “but the cost is absurd, up to $10,000.00 for a federal review. I can’t come up with $10,000.00 in the one month I have left before I could potentially be forced to leave.”

Based on previous rulings, her lawyers said that, unfortunately, the case was terminal.

As of the end of this month, Vanessa Nunez’ may be at risk of removal by immigration authorities. However, if she is sent back to Venezuela, Vanessa fears that her position as a political asylum seeker will make her future in her own country extremely tenuous and even dangerous.

“I’ve heard that people who return [after seeking political asylum] are exiled in their own land. Chavez has said that these people are targeted as state enemies and traitors. They can’t apply for jobs or public services,” said Vanessa.

Vanessa Nunez (center) graduated Summa Cum Laude from Doral Academy

A dedicated mechanical engineer student at Miami Dade Community College with a passion for designing environmentally friendly roller coasters, Vice President of the Youth for Environmental Sustainability Club, member of Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER), the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers(SHEP), and math and science tutor, she somehow still manages to score a 3.8 GPA.

Vanessa prays that she will not be forced to leave the United States, yet she also acknowledges that in order for her to advance as an engineer she needs legislative reform, like the DREAM Act, that will allow her to build the mechanical juggernauts she’s always wanted to create.

“I can’t get internships because I have no social security number,” said Vanessa, “They’re very competitive. I’m very passionate, but I need that magic number. I’ve been recommended to go to Ohio State University, but because of my status, I can’t.”

She is one of more than 2 million undocumented students in the United States whose futures are uncertain at best, non-existent at worst. The DREAM Act would allow these countless undocumented youth the opportunity to pursue higher education. Yet, in a time when there is a serious dearth of engineers, scientists and innovators to be found within the United States, good sense takes a back seat to partisan politics. How much longer can we continue twiddling our thumbs among a morass of broken promises?

Vanessa’s academic dedication and civic engagement is a further testament of the quality individual that we would lose if we were to allow her deportation. This quality is a fact that has been quickly assessed by her friends and SWER members who, like her are also undocumented. These youth are rallying around her case, passing out petitions and clamoring for the support of key community and college leaders, and is how we should aspire to act: inclusionary, incisive, immediate.

The more anti-immigrant legislation is passed, and the more the DREAM Act languishes in the dusty drawers of congressional credenzas, the US will continue to recklessly bleed talent and stagnate in its overall progress as a society; a society that was once, many moons ago, considered a beacon of hope and freedom for thousands.

Labor Pains: How Our Broken Immigration System Hurts All Workers

*Re-posted from Immigration Impact*

Immigrant_Worker_Protest_3

By TYLER MORAN

While most employers are law-abiding, some unscrupulous employers have a secret weapon for keeping down wages and working conditions—our broken immigration system. Bad apple employers hire undocumented immigrants, subject them to unsafe working conditions, pay them less than the market wage, or don’t pay them at all. If undocumented workers file a labor complaint or try to form a union, the employer will threaten them with deportation or even call DHS to have the workers deported. Then the workers are whisked into detention or out of the country before they can seek remedies for the labor violations. Most employers don’t get punished for their misconduct, which puts unscrupulous employers at a competitive advantage over law-abiding employers.

Why is this bad for all workers, including U.S. citizens? Easy-to-exploit undocumented immigrants under the constant threat of deportation are forced to accept sub-standard working conditions. This spills over to authorized workers who must also accept these conditions or risk losing their jobs. This also undercuts union organizing. Undocumented coworkers have fewer legal avenues for redress of labor violations and far less incentive to participate in collective efforts to improve conditions at the workplace.

A recent report by the National Employment Law Project found a slew of labor and employment law violations in low-wage industries in three of the nation’s largest cities:

* At least 26% of workers surveyed were paid less than the legally required minimum wage the previous week, 60% of whom were underpaid by more than $1 per hour.

* More than a quarter of workers surveyed worked more than 40 hours the previous week and 76% of whom were not paid the required overtime rate.

* 41% of workers surveyed had illegal deductions taken out of their paychecks for reasons such as damage, loss, work-related tools or materials.

* 43% of workers who filed a complaint to their employers or attempted to form a union suffered illegal retaliation from their employers—such as being fired or suspended, cut wages and hours and threats of deportation.

* Of the 8% of workers surveyed who filed a serious injury claim, 50% experienced illegal employer reactions.

The Drum Major Institute argues that all workers benefit from a strengthening of workplace rights for immigrants. In fact, they find that undocumented workers’ ability to improve their own working conditions would benefit all workers by making jobs more desirable, which translates into more jobs that can support a middle-class standard of living. The Immigration Policy Center also reports that lack of legal status makes unauthorized workers extremely vulnerable to abuse by unscrupulous employers, and at the same time jeopardizes the competitiveness of those employers who try to follow the law.

As immigration reform hovers on the horizon, we should learn a lesson from the failure of our current broken immigration system and ineffective worksite enforcement policy. Not only does current policy fail to address the economic incentive that employers have to hire undocumented workers, but it has allowed unscrupulous employers to gain an unfair advantage and use immigration law to drive down the wages and working conditions of all workers.

Worksite enforcement will be part of comprehensive immigration reform. However, the real answer to “enforcement” at the worksite is making sure all workers can exercise their labor rights, increasing enforcement of labor and employment laws, and closing the gaping loophole that allows immigration enforcement to trump labor law enforcement. Policymakers need to take on this critical issue. Otherwise, the employment rights of all of us are at risk.

Tyler Moran is Policy Director at the National Immigration Law Center.