In Florida, we put people before politicians

By: Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director from the Florida Immigrant Coalition 

Via Huffington Post

We are often told that Republicans don’t care about immigrants or working people. They only care about the 1 percent. Democrats, on the other hand, truly want what is best for both. If that is the case, then these are strange times in South Florida.

On Thursday, I attended a protest in front of Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s offices in Aventura. Rep. Wasserman Schultz is the chair of the Democratic National Committee and one of the most powerful Democrats in D.C. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), on the other hand, is the powerful private prison company trying to build the largest for-profit immigrant detention center in a sleepy town in Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s district known as Southwest Ranches. Opposition to the facility is so overwhelming that only a few people have voiced support for it in any poll, town hall meeting or public hearing on the issue. It is not just immigrant rights activists opposing either, but people from all walks of life like the environmentalist Sierra Club, the ball-playing resident Udonis Haslem, the DREAM ACT-defying former Senator George Lemieux, the ACLU and thousands of others.

You would think that the democratic thing for Rep. Wasserman Schultz to do, in the face of such overwhelming opposition, would be to take a stand against the center. Instead, she has spent the last year doubling down for CCA, while refusing to meet with constituents.

A day before the Aventura rally, high school valedictorian Daniela Pelaez attended a press conference hosted by Republican Rep. David Rivera. Earlier this year, Daniela’s name brought national attention and thousands of people into the streets to stop her from being deported. This time, however, she wasn’t at the press conference to protest, but to stand, albeit lonely-looking, with the controversial congressman as he unveiled his DREAM ACT alternative. Rivera’s STARS ACT would allow some College-going undocumented youth a chance to stay in the country, but with so many restrictions that only a few could actually benefit.

The STARS ACT is not without controversy. Some immigrant communities think it reeks of opportunism, while others see it as the best opportunity for a better future. But considering that Rivera has caught more headlines for being under investigation by the FBI, IRS and other acronym-ed agencies, a DREAM Act alternative is probably the least controversial thing attached to his name.

Two days, two different events; one in which immigrants are joined by Not-In-My-Back-Yard residents to protest a nominally popular Democratic rep’s support for an unquestionably unpopular detention center; and another, where a respected undocumented student stands by a Republican rep. as he unveils a piece of immigration legislation that some immigrant students sort of like.

What is happening in South Florida?

Well, we have a Democratic president who seems sympathetic to our issues until he deports a record number of our loved ones. He is not helped when he has a DNC chair who talks a good game about supporting working families but then stands with one of the worst 1 percent corporations (CCA) against the working families in her district.

Immigrants, Latinos and working people have seen how far our loyalty has taken us, and we are not impressed. We are so not impressed that some of us will stand with anyone who is putting out a proposal, alleged ethics violations or not, while others won’t hesitate to voice our opposition to a proposed facility no matter how popular the Congresswoman that supports it is. For those of us who have lived the issues we fight for every day, what politicians do is more important than what they say.

No matter what, we will never put politicians before the best interest of our communities. The tears and fears we feel daily give us the courage and clarity to hold all accountable, even those who claim to be our friends, from both parties.

Encuentro sobre Poli-Migra de la Florida

FLIC y la ACLU te invitan a participar en nuestro Encuentro sobre Poli-Migra en Orlando, FL, el Sábado, 23 de junio.

Desde hace varios años estamos enfrentando con la aplicación de leyes migratorias por agentes de inmigración y la policía local en nuestras comunidades, lo cual ha conducido a un aumento en la discriminación racial por parte de la policía, redadas, detenciones y deportaciones. El objetivo de este Encuentro es entender estos temas que nos afectan y definir estrategias conjuntas que nos permitan protegernos.

Durante el Encuentro, vamos a hablar de…

  • Detenciones y Deportaciones
  • 287 (g), Comunidades Seguras y discriminación racial
  • Entrenamientos de “Conozca sus Derechos”
  • Posibles resultados de la sentencia del Tribunal Supremo sobre la ley SB1070 de Arizona

… y mucho más.

RESERVA TU LUGAR AHORA! Regístrate en línea aquí

Estamos buscando participantes que…

  • trabajan actualmente o planean trabajar en temas relacionados con inmigración
  • están comprometidos a comprometido a continuar el trabajo en sus regiones locales después de la cumbre.

Valor: Estamos pidiendo a todos los participantes que contribuyan $10 para cubrir los costos del Encuentro y el almuerzo.

Puedes solicitar una beca o recibir incentivos para transporte una vez te registres.

Además, puedes patrocinar a un amigo para ayudar a aquellos que no pueden asumir los costos de participar en el Encuentro.

Para obtener más información o para registrarte por teléfono, comunícate con:

Ron Bilbao, la ACLU, rbilbao@aclufl.org, Torrico 786-363-2723 / Gris, FLIC, grey@floridaimmigrant.org, 239-571-7043

Immigration Enforcement Summit in Florida!

FLIC and the ACLU invite you to participate in our Immigration Enforcement Summit in Orlando, FL on Saturday, June 23rd

For several years now, we have been dealing with increased immigration enforcement in our communities leading to racial profiling by police, raids, detentions and deportations. The goal of the summit is to understand these  issues that are affecting us and strategize together on how to protect our communities statewide.

During the Summit, we will talk about…

  • Detention and Deportations
  • 287(g), Secure Communities and Racial Profiling
  • Know Your Rights trainings
  • Possible outcomes on the Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s SB1070

… and much more

RESERVE YOUR SPOT NOW! Register online here

We are looking for participants who…

  • are doing enforcement or are thinking about doing enforcement work
  • are committed to continuing the work in their local regions after the summit.

Cost: All participants are asked to contribute $10 to cover the costs of the summit and their lunch.

You can apply for Scholarships or Carpool Incentives once you register

Also, you can Sponsor a Friend to help those who can’t afford the costs

For more information or to register via phone, contact:

Ron Bilbao, ACLU, rbilbao@aclufl.org, 786-363-2723 / Grey Torrico, FLIC, grey@floridaimmigrant.org, 239-571-7043

HUNDREDS CONVENE IN GAINESVILLE FOR FLIC CONGRESS

Numbers swell after historic mobilizations during the legislative session

 Starting tonight, November 18th, until Sunday November 20th, the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) will host its sixth annual Congress in Gainesville. More than 200 participants representing grassroots organizations, community groups, immigrant rights advocates, lawyers, unions, faith leaders, students and farm workers, will gather to review their achievements during 2011 and prepare for the challenges 2012 might bring for immigrants in Florida.

Hosted by the Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice and the Coalition of Hispanics Integrating Spanish Speakers Through Advocacy and Service (CHISPAS), the 2011 annual membership meeting will swell to record numbers, attracting hundreds of people from throughout the state. The organization most recently earned notoriety for its role in mounting a formidable campaign, during the 2011 legislative session successfully thwarting the governor’s campaign threat of an Arizona immigration copycat bill.

With no staff until 2005, the Florida Immigrant Coalition now has a permanent presence peppered throughout the peninsula in great part due to a solid core of 30 diverse organizations and a talented cohort of full time staff in five different counties.

Florida has the fourth largest immigrant population in the country. Its state coalition has become a reliable and growing mobilization machine, in particular for its reach and depth with the state’s Latino constituencies.

The 6th Annual Congress will be held at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The Florida New Majority, the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy and the Florida Asset Building Coalition are expected to participate.

Thou Shalt Not Steal

By Jeanette Smith, South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice, Member of Florida Wage Theft Task Force 

Today marks one year since Miami-Dade County publicly declared a Day Against Wage Theft. Wage theft, or the nonpayment of wages earned, affects us all. Families suffer when earnings are too low to meet basic needs. Local businesses and economies are denied vital stimulus that would flow from the additional spending of workers had they been paid their earned salaries. Honest businesses are undermined by unscrupulous competitors who practice wage theft. Government at all levels is affected, as they are denied tax revenues generated by higher earnings and when many working families must resort to public programs to survive.

Last year, our County adopted an unprecedented ordinance to protect workers from wage theft, the first one in Florida and model legislation for many other communities throughout the country. Thanks to it, in only one year the County’s Wage Theft Program collected over $350,000 in unpaid wages through conciliation, and since January, over $415,000 has been awarded to workers through administrative hearings.

The victims of wage theft have ranged from construction workers to teachers to home health care workers and others. Claims have been as low as sixty dollars and as high as thousands of dollars. Mayor Carlos Gimenez recently lauded the program as “an effective tool for promoting economic security and dignity”. With the over one million dollars in claims still pending, it is obvious that wage theft is an epidemic in our community.

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Florida Local Legislative Delegation Public Hearings 2011

Alachua County

Delegation Contact Person:  Michelle Sherfield Mailing Address: 3141 NW 13th St Gainesville, FL 32609 Telephone: 352-955-3083 Fax: 352-955-3085

Public Hearing Date/Location : Tentative – October 26 or 27

Deadline to Register : Need to follow-up

Brevard County

Delegation Contact Person: Bethany Iliff

Mailing Address: 33 Suntree Pl, Suite D Melbourne, FL 32940 Telephone: (321) 757-7019 Fax: (321) 757-7021

Public Hearing Date/Location : Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Brevard County Commission Chambers 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Building C, Viera, FL 32940

Deadline to Register : To Register to Speak: To be placed on the agenda to address the delegation, please send a written request to bethany.iliff@myfloridahouse.gov  by 5:00 PM on Friday, August 26th. Please include the following information in your request:

 Name and Title

 Organization

 Address

 City/State/Zip

 Telephone  Email

 Topic for discussion

To Submit Materials: To have printed information included, please send it to Representative Workman’s Office no later than 5:00 PM on Friday, August 26th. It is suggested that the information be presented on organization letterhead and that it include any of the following information that is available:

– Legislative topic

– Briefly state the issue

– Identify existing legislation by statute number

– Indicate changes to existing law or provide a legislative proposal

– Provide statistical information pertaining to the issue (state and local)

– Costs associated with the issue or project

– Names of legislators or local officials that are already supporting the issue

– List known groups, coalitions, associations, lobbyists, etc., that support or oppose the project or issue

This is optional but encouraged. Please limit responses to two pages. If you will be providing materials, please provide 15 copies of three-hole punched sets to Representative Workman’s office no later than Friday, August 26th for inclusion in the legislators’ notebooks and for public records. When the agenda is finalized, it will be emailed to all speakers and the Delegation Offices. Anyone submitting a request after August 26th may address the Delegation by completing a public comment card, which will be available at the meeting on September 7th. Rep. Workman’s office address: 33 Suntree Pl, Suite D Melbourne, FL 32940 Telephone: (321) 757-7019

Broward County

Delegation Contact Person: Sandy Harris, Executive Director

Mailing Address: 115 S Andrews Ave, Room 429 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 Telephone: (954) 357-6555 Fax: (954) 357-6041

Delegation Web site: http://www.broward.org/legislative/Pages/Default.aspx

Public Hearing Date/Location : Education and Cultural Affairs Monday, October 10, 2011, 4:00 pm – 7:00 p.m. Collins Elementary School 1050 NW 2nd Street Dania Beach, FL 33004

Transportation, Economic Development, Environment & Growth Management Monday, November 7, 2011, 4:00 pm – 7:00 p.m. Junior Achievement of South Florida, Inc. (Broward College Campus) 1130 Coconut Creek Blvd. Coconut Creek, FL 33066

Juvenile Justice / Criminal Justice Constitutional Officers Wednesday, November 30, 2011, 4:00 pm – 7:00 p.m. E. Pat Larkins Center 540 Martin Luther King Blvd. Pompano Beach, FL 33060

Deadline to Register.- According to the staffer: Individuals interested in speaking on the issue of Immigration should register for the Transportation, Economic Development, Environment and Growth Management Public Hearing.

Members of the public and representatives of organizations are entitled to address the Delegation at the public hearing appropriate to their subject matter. Click on the Speaker’s Form to sign up to speak. The completed form will automatically be forwarded to the Delegation office. Please have this form to the Delegation Office at least two (2) business days prior to the hearing. In addition, you may sign up at the hearing.

Link for Speaker Form: http://www.broward.org/Legislative/Pages/PresentationForm.aspx

Citrus County

Contact People: Chase Daniels or Dawn Faherty Mailing Address: 591 E Gulf to Lake Highway Lecanto, FL 34461 Telephone: (352) 560-6020 Fax: (352) 560-6022

Thursday, October 13, 2011 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm at Inverness County Commissioner Chamber – 110 N. Apopka Ave, Inverness, FL 34450

Deadline to Register :Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at Noon

Collier County

Contact Person: Sheila Jackson Mailing Address: 3301 Tamiami Trail E, Suite 212, Bldg F Naples, FL 34112 Telephone: (239) 417-6270 Fax: Please send e-mail Delegation e-mail address: matt.hudson@myfloridahouse.gov

Thursday, August 18, 2011 9:00 am–11:00 am IFAS Auditorium in Immokalee, located at 2685 State Road 29 N, Immokalee, FL 34142 Reconvene at 2:00 pm until the completion of the agenda City Council Chamber, City Hall, located at 735 8th Street South, Naples, FL 34102 *Please notice the change in location

Deadline to Register : Friday, July 29, 2011 at Noon

Duval County

Contact Person: Susan Stewart, Coordinator Mailing Address: 117 W Duval St, Suite 225 Jacksonville, FL 32202 Telephone: (904) 630-1680 Fax: (904) 630-2074 Delegation e-mail address: sstewart@coj.net

Tentative- October 24, 2011 2:00 pm – Public Hearing December 1, 2011 2pm – Local bill hearing

Deadline to Register : Need to follow-up

Hillsborough County

Contact People: Catherine Frazer Mailing Address: 4250 S Florida Ave, Suite 4 Lakeland, FL 33813 Telephone: (863) 647-4896 Fax: (863) 647-4898 Delegation Web site: http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/legislativedelegation/

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 – 9:00 am Oval Theater in the Marshall Student Center University of South Florida 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL Link for Request To Speak General Issues Form:

http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/legislativedelegation/resources/publications/agenda/2011/2011HillsboroughReqTospeakGENERALISSUES.pdf

Deadline to Register :Monday, September 19, 2011

Indian River County

Contact Person: Dustin Paulson Mailing Address: 1053 20th Pl Vero Beach, FL 32960 Telephone: (772) 778-5077 Fax: (772) 778-7210 Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Deadline to Register :Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lee County

Contact Person: Paige Biagi Mailing Address: 3501 Del Prado Blvd #305 Cape Coral, FL 33904 Telephone: (239) 344-4900 Fax: (239) 344-4901 Delegation Web site: http://leecountylegislativedelegation.weebly.com/ Tuesday, November 8, 2011 9:00 am at Edison State College – Lee Campus 8099 College Parkway Fort Myers, FL 33919

Deadline to Register :Check website next week

Leon County

Contact Person: Judy Wells Mailing Address: 415 Tompkins St Inverness, FL 34450 Telephone: (352) 860-5175 Fax: (352) 860-5177

Need to follow-up

Need to follow-up

Manatee County

Contact Person:   Cheryl Ennis Mailing Address: 3653 Cortez Rd W, Suite 90 Bradenton, FL 34210 Telephone: (941) 727-6349 Fax: (941) 727-6351

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 5:00 pm

8:00 am– 12:00 pm

Manatee County Commission Chambers – 112 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton, FL 34205

Marion County

Contact People: Debbie Dennis or Lorri Silvera Mailing Address: 315 SE 25th Ave Ocala, FL 34471 Telephone: (352) 732-1313 Fax: (352) 732-1360

Tentative- September 8th

Deadline to Register :Need to follow-up

Martin County

Contact Person: Holly Demers Mailing Address: 3500 SW Corporate Pkwy, Suite 204 Palm City, FL 34990 Telephone: (772) 219-1665 Fax: (772) 219-1666

Friday, September 30, 2011

Deadline to Register : Not available

Miami-Dade County

Contact Person: Alex Dominguez, Director Mailing Address: 111 NW 1st St, Suite 1032 Miami, FL 33128 Telephone: (305) 375-5600 Fax: (305) 375-5639 Delegation Web site: www.miamidade.gov/dadedelegation Delegation e-mail address: aad@miamidade.gov

Monday, August 1, 2011 City of Miami City Hall, Council Chamber, 3500 Pan American Drive, Miami, FL 33133 9:30am Wednesday, August 10, 2011 City of Miami City Hall, Council Chamber, 3500 Pan American Drive, Miami, FL 33133 9:30am

Registration Forms: Monday, July 25, 2011 Materials: Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Orange County

Contact People: Ryan Smith or Helen Franta Mailing Address: 2460 N Courtenay Pkwy Merritt Island, FL 32953 Telephone: (321) 449-5111 Fax: (321) 449-5113 Delegation Web site: http://www.ocfl.net/YourLocalGovernment/LegislativeDelegation/PublicHearingNotices/tabid/274/Default.aspx Tentative – October 24 Has my e-mail and will send me the information once its available

 Osceola County

Contact Person: Rose Hernandez Mailing Address: 323 Pleasant St Kissimmee, FL 34741 Telephone: (407) 943-3077 Fax: (407) 943-3078

Tentative – October26

Need to follow-up

Palm Beach County

Contact Person: Rachael Ondrus Merlan Mailing Address: 301 N Olive Ave, Suite 1101.11 W Palm Beach, FL 33401 Telephone: (561) 355-2406 Fax: (561) 242-7171 Delegation Web site: www.PalmBeachDelegation.com Delegation e-mail address: rondrus@pbcgov.org Wednesday, September 7, 2011 2:00 pm – 5:00pm Scripps Research Institute 130 Scripps Way, Jupiter Thursday, December 1, 2011 2:00pm – 5:00pm Palm Beach Atlantic University 901 South Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach

Pasco County

Contact Person: Giovanni Casanova Mailing Address: 8217 Massachusetts Ave New Port Richey, FL 34653-3111 Telephone: (727) 848-5885 Fax: (727) 841-4453 Monday, September 26, 2011 River Ridge High School 11646 Town Center Road Port Richey, FL 34654 Time not set Need to follow-up

Pinellas County

Contact Person: Sue Berfield Mailing Address: 125 Indian Rocks Rd N, Suite A Belleair Bluffs, FL 33770 Telephone: (727) 518-3902 Fax: (727) 518-3904 Pinellas Park Performing Arts Center 4951 78th Ave Pinellas Park, FL 33781

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 9:00 am– 12:00 pm

Need to follow-up

Polk County

Contact Person: Patty Harrison Mailing Address: 201 W Central Ave Lake Wales, FL 33853 Telephone: (863) 679-4847 Fax: (863) 679-4851 Monday, October 10, 2011. Polk BOCC Chambers 9:00 am–6:00 pm 330 West Church Street Bartow, FL 33830-376

Deadline to Register : Two weeks before the hearing Monday, September 26, 2011

Sarasota County

Contact Person: Carol Carlson Mailing Address: 8486 S. Tamiami Trail Sarasota, FL 34238 Telephone: (941) 918-4028 Fax: (941) 918-4030 Tentative – November 7

Seminole County

Contact Person: Valerie Clark Mailing Address: 251 Maitland Ave, Suite 304 Altamonte Springs, FL 32701 Need to follow-up Need to follow-up

Telephone: (407) 262-7578 Fax: (407) 262-7580 Delegation e-mail address: Clarke.Valerie.s22@FLsenate.gov

St. Johns County

Contact Person: Darla Kubacki Mailing Address: 9485 Regency Square Blvd, Suite 108 Jacksonville, FL 32225-8145 Telephone: (904) 727-3600 Fax: (904) 727-3603 Delegation e-mail address: kubacki.darla.s08@FLsenate.gov Tentative – October13 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm St. Johns Commission Chamber – 500 San Sebastian View, St. Augustine, FL. 32084

Deadline to Register : Pending

St. Lucie County

Contact Person: Nicole Fogarty Mailing Address: 2212 SW Veterans Memorial Pkwy Port St. Lucie, FL 34952 Telephone: (772) 398-2786 Fax: (772) 398-2788 Thursday, September 8, 2011 Need to follow-up Sumter County Contact People: Joshua Blake or Dana Coleman

Need to follow-up

Need to follow-up

Sumter County

Contact People: Joshua Blake or Dana Coleman Mailing Address: 916 Avenida Central Lady Lake, FL 32159 Telephone: (352) 315-4445 Fax: (352) 315-4447

Need to follow-up

Need to follow-up

Volusia County

Contact Person: Darla Kubacki Mailing Address: 9485 Regency Square Blvd, Suite 108 Jacksonville, FL 32225-8145 Telephone: (904) 727-3600 Fax: (904) 727-3603 Delegation e-mail address: kubacki.darla.s08@FLsenate.gov Wednesday, October 12, 2011 10:00 am – 2:00 pm Deland City Hall Commission Chamber 120 S. Florida Avenue DeLand, FL 32720

About a week before the hearing or a Speaker Card

Obama Resumes Deportation of Hatian Nationals



the U.S. government resumed its deportation of Haitian nationals convicted of criminal offenses. Despite petitions and objections filed by civil and human rights groups to halt detentions, 27 Haitian nationals have been deported thus far.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, has justified these deportations as removal of criminal elements from the United States. While the Department of Homeland Security has stated that only Haitians with criminal records will be removed, detentions have occurred for “offenses” that run the gamut, including traffic violations.

“It is hypocritical that the same day that the Department of Homeland Security announced it would resume deportations to Haiti, a travel warning was issued by the State Department,” said Francesca Menes, Community Organizer with the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), “The message the U.S. is sending is that it is acceptable to turn our backs on those who are living in inhumane conditions, but it’s not acceptable for U.S. Citizens to be present in similar conditions.”

In what could be all but called a criminal act, Haitian nationals are returned to a country that continues to languish after the hurricanes and floods of 2008 and the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010 which killed 230,000 people.  Deportees are returning to political instability, crumbling infrastructure and inhumane living conditions.

1.2 million people continue living in tent camps. The lack of proper sanitation and medical care at these camps led to a cholera outbreak that bared itself in December of 2010 and has since claimed 3,889 lives and affected 194,000 nationwide.   As homelessness and joblessness persist throughout the island, violence against women, rapes and child prostitution and human trafficking have increased.

Moreover, hundreds of Haitians have been relocated to prisons across Louisiana as part of the deportation process to await removal. Despite the upheavals occurring in Haiti, boats are also being driven back by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The deportations of Haitian nationals further delay Haiti’s recovery as potential workers that could send millions into Haiti through remittances are returned to their country of origin. Florida will languish without their contributions. Additionally, 55,000 Haitians with approved family petitions remain separated from their U.S. based relatives due to U.S. visa backlogs and bureaucracy that shows no signs of speeding up.

“These illogical attitudes underscore the racism perpetuated upon Haitians, at home and abroad, said Isabel Vinent, Deputy Director of FLIC, “The administration has to stop the deportations. Not even 12 months have gone by after the earthquake and conditions in Haiti have only deteriorated. If special provisions and considerations have been provided to others fleeing from oppression, persecution and disaster, the people of Haiti should also receive the same treatment.”
————————————————————————————————

Administracion de Obama reanuda deportaciones de ciudadanos haitianos

el gobierno de EE.UU. reanudó la deportación de ciudadanos haitianos identificados como criminales. A pesar de las peticiones y objeciones presentadas por los grupos de derechos civiles y ONGs para poner fin a las detenciones, 27 personas han sido deportados hasta la fecha.

ICE  ha justificado estas deportaciones como la eliminación de los elementos criminales de los Estados Unidos. El Departamento de Seguridad Nacional ha afirmado que sólo los haitianos con antecedentes penales serán deportados. Sin embargo, se han llevado acabo multiples detenciones por infracciones menores, incluyendo violaciónes de tráfico.

“Es increible que el mismo día que el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional anunció que reanudaría las deportaciones a Haití, una advertencia de viaje fue emitida por el Departamento de Estado,” dijo Francesca Menes, organizadora de la comunidad con la Coalición de Inmigrantes de Florida (FLIC), “El mensaje que EE.UU. está enviando es que es aceptable darle la espalda a aquellos que viven en condiciones inhumanas, pero no es aceptable que los ciudadanos de EE.UU. esten presentes en condiciones similares. ”

En lo que podría ser interpretado como un acto criminal, las personas de origen haitianos son devueltas a un país que sigue languideciendo después de los huracanes y las inundaciones del 2008 ; un devastador terremoto del 12 de enero de 2010 que mató a 230.000 personas y a la inestabilidad política.

1,2 millones de personas aun siguen viviendo en tiendas de campaña. Las condiciones insalubres y la falta de atención médica en estos campos condujo a un brote de cólera que se desató en diciembre del 2010 y desde entonces ha reclamado 3.889 vidas y afectó a 194.000. Y a lo largo de la isla aun persiste la falta de vivienda y el desempleo, la violencia contra las mujeres, las violaciones y la prostitución infantil y el trafico humano ha aumentado.

Por otra parte, cientos de haitianos han sido trasladados a prisiones en Louisiana a la espera de expulsion del país, como parte del proceso de deportación. A pesar de los trastornos que ocurren en Haití, las balsas encaminadas a los EE.UU. también están siendo rechazados por la Guardia Costera norteamericana.
Las deportaciones de nacionales haitianos demora aun más la recuperación de Haití, ya que potenciales trabajadores que pudieran enviar millones en remesas a Haití son devueltos a su país de origen. Mientras tanto, Florida languidecen sin sus contribuciones. Además, 55.000 haitianos con peticiones de asilo aprobadas permanecen separadas de sus familiares que viven en los EE.UU., debido a los retrasos visa de EE.UU. y la burocracia que no muestra signos de aceleración.

“Estas actitudes ilógicas subrayado el racismo perpetúa a los haitianos, en su casa y en el extranjero, dijo Isabel Vinent, Director Adjunto de la oficina de FLIC,” La administración tiene que parar las deportaciones. Ni siquiera 12 meses han transcurrido después del terremoto y las condiciones en Haití sólo han empeorado. Si las disposiciones especiales y consideraciones han sido prestados a otros que huyen de la opresión, la persecución y el desastre, el pueblo de Haití también deben recibir el mismo trato. ”

 

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.

Photo credit: Jessica Sanchez

Florida Brought Fighting Spirit–and 43 Buses–to Historic March for America in D.C.

The sense of hope and determination could be felt throughout the massive caravan of more than 40 buses filled with parents, children and spouses, many of whom have deeply and personally felt the pain of our broken immigration system. Throughout the 18-hour journey, young people and veteran activists who call Florida home shared their stories and dreams of moving ahead with their lives, attaining educational degrees and more than anything else, living without fear of being criminalized when they just want to fully participate in our democracy.

“It was a long ride, and it wasn’t luxurious. The whole experience was exhausting, but no one on my bus complained because we know better than most that life is not easy, and winning the reform we want to see will not be easy,” said Jessica Sanchez, a youth leader with Esperanza Juvenil/Youth for Change and member of FLIC’s Board of Directors. “At the end of the day, my feet were dusty and they hurt, but my soul felt renewed. I had been a part of something larger. I had been a part of history. No matter how taxing the journey, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. That march meant everything to us.”

This was the spirit of the march and rally. Many people put their heart and soul and sweat into the effort to make it a success.

The Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) is proud to have been part of the historic mobilization of hundreds of thousands from across the country at Sunday’s March for America in Washington D.C. Nearly 2,400 residents of the Sunshine State made their powerful voices heard, voices that demand justice and fairness for immigrant families and communities, and desire to come out of the shadows and be respected for their contributions to our country.

“Just two weeks before the march, our plan was to send just four buses to DC,” said Rita Mendez, a FLIC leader in Immokalee. “Very quickly we realized that our members and allies were hungry to hit the streets of Washington in extraordinary numbers. It was a challenge, but we knew we had to move heaven and earth to give people the opportunity to be part of the biggest day our movement has seen in four years. We filled 43 buses in two weeks!”

“Floridians made up one of the largest delegations on this historic day,” said Juan Pablo Chavez, Florida state director with the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign. “We were determined to represent our state. We achieved our goal.”

Our work isn’t over. The march wasn’t a beginning or an ending. It was a significant step that has helped revive momentum for comprehensive immigration reform. We all look forward to taking the next steps toward winning just and humane immigration reform that makes our state and our nation a better place for everyone.