Archive | August, 2009

FLIC Board Member and SWER Leader Selected for Social Justice Scholarship

6 Aug

matosBreaking News! One of our own, Felipe Matos, has been selected for the National Davis-Putter Scholarship based on his commitment and hard work for social justice. We cannot think of a more deserving recipient!

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Felipe was elected President of the Student Government Association and student representative to the college-wide Board of Trustees at Miami Dade Honors College. There he was active in anti-oppression causes, particularly promoting the DREAM Act.

During this time Felipe was also awarded a position on the ALL USA Academic First Team, which represents the top 20 community college students in the nation and was certified as a New Century Scholar. In 2007, he became a leader in Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER) and started advocating for the rights of undocumented youth throughout the country with the support of the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC). Currently, Felipe is a SWER core leader, as well as an elected member of the FLIC Board of Directors.

An Environmental Justice major at St. Thomas University, Matos is one of only 20 students to receive this prestigious scholarship, which will enable him to fulfill his dream of completing his Environmental Justice Law degree.

The Davis-Putter Scholarship, launched in 1961, grants scholarships to student activists who organize against oppression and discrimination, and for peace and justice. “I am very grateful, but I feel this is truly a communal victory. I could never have accomplished much if it wasn’t for my family and the support that FLIC and my peers from SWER give me,” Matos said.

Thanks to you, Felipe, for all that you do–and congratulations!

matos

St. Thomas University Junior

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Obama Expands ICE Budget

3 Aug

obamaPresident Barack Obama has expanded the budget of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The 287(g) program and Secure Communities initiative, implemented by the Department of Homeland Security, authorizes local law enforcement to act as ICE federal agents–they can conduct raids, arrest, detain and deport undocumented immigrants, regardless of the severity of their alleged crime, and gives them permission to look into individuals’ immigration status  online and detain and deport them if they are undocumented.

President Obama’s expansion of ICE’s budget has only provided a greater opportunity for law enforcement to abuse their power. During raids, they often force entry into the homes of  undocumented individuals fully armed. Instead of improving our economy and our broken immigration system, our tax dollars are going to ICE, whose budget is now over $6 billion!

Enforcement of a civil issue–and the attempt to criminalize immigrant workers and families–is not the solution. The U.S. urgently needs immigration reform. Defending the status quo is not an option.

“I think the consensus is that despite our inability to get this (immigration reform) passed over the last several years, the American people still want to see a solution in which we are tightening up our borders, we’re cracking down on employers who are using illegal workers in order to drive down wages and often times, mistreat those workers. And we need an effective way to recognize and legalize the status of undocumented workers who are here. My administration is fully behind an effort to achieve comprehensive immigration reform” said President Obama.

It is incomprehensible why President Obama would allow DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to expand a failed program, when he insists that his administration is behind the effort for immigration reform. Real reform of our broken immigration system should address and end abuses committed by deputized police and ICE officers–along with enabling immigrants to adjust their status and become citizens.

“Secure Communties” and 287(g) agreements do not serve a public safety function–they do the opposite.

President Barack Obama must permanently terminate these programs for the safety and well-being of both citizens and undocumented residents.