Erika Almiron, director of immigrant rights’ organization Juntos, spoke at an Oct. 16 press conference on the latest attacks by Immigration Customs Enforcement against the immigrant community in Philadelphia.
Six months ago, Juntos won a historic victory in this city on what are called ICE “detainers” or holds — written demands from ICE that require state authorities to hold someone until ICE takes them into federal custody. On April 16, 2014, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter signed an executive order limiting the cooperation of the city’s Police Department with ICE. No longer can the police hold an undocumented immigrant awaiting deportation by ICE unless the federal government shows a warrant.
Since then, 200 municipalities across the U.S. have passed similar orders.
Although this has been a welcomed relief to thousands of undocumented workers, a report entitled “Destructive Delay” released by Juntos, in cooperation with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, shows the human cost of postponing immigration reform at the federal level. These costs include new tactics used by ICE. Now that many cities have adopted noncooperation with the immigration agency, ICE is using other ways to detain undocumented immigrants in order to satisfy their deportation quotas.
For example, when undocumented workers are arrested on non-immigration charges, ICE picks them up as they leave jail on bail or gets deportation orders from outside the city. These trends have been occurring not only in Philadelphia, but in cities across the country.
Juntos states that until thorough immigration reform is passed, there will not be justice for the immigrant community. Says Almiron: “Our community has been asked to wait for President Obama to act on relief from deportations until the time is politically right. We are asked to wait to reform immigration policies that he himself has called ‘inhumane,’ and meanwhile, ICE agents are again eroding trust between communities and local government with new tactics that violate our civil and human rights.”
Juntos says it will keep fighting until these abuses stop, and immigrants and their families feel secure once and for all.