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Petition to stop poli-migra in Florida

5 Dec Collier County demonstrates to end 287g

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:

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 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


¡Ayuda a Rosa! Detenida por ser pasajera

2 Aug

Rosa debe pagar $9,000 en fianza mañana

Rosa Laínez Alvarado, hondureña de 48 años y madre de dos hijos, es una mujer trabajadora que lleva 80 días detenida en el Centro de Transición de Broward (BTC) simplemente por ser pasajera en un auto.

El conductor fue detenido por tener la placa vencida y la Policía de Miami no sólo entregó al conductor a la custodia de inmigración, sino también a los otros 4 pasajeros del vehículo, incluyendo a Rosa.

Rosa y su esposo Javier han vivido en el país por 10 años. Rosa trabaja no sólo para su marido y ella misma, sino también para ayudar a sus dos hijos que viven en Honduras. Con su apoyo financiero, sus hijos pueden mantenerse a flote. Lo peor de todo es que Rosa no tiene antecedentes penales. Esta es la primera vez que se ha enfrentado a una situación como esta.

Ahora, Rosa necesita nuestra ayuda. Ella tiene la oportunidad de salir del centro de detención bajo fianza, pero su esposo sólo ha podido recoger $2000 de los $9000 que necesitan. Con el apoyo de nuestra comunidad, podemos ayudar a que Rosa regrese a su amado esposo y sus hijos.

Help Rosa! Detained for being a passenger in a car

2 Aug

Rosa needs to pay $9K in bond tomorrow

Rosa Lainez Alvarado, 48, mother of two, is a hard-working Honduran woman, and has been detained in Broward Transitional Center (BTC) for 80 days for being merely a passenger in the car.  She is one of more than 60 cases that are being held in this private detention center while being a low-priority case.

The driver was pulled over for expired license plate tags and Miami Police not only took the driver into immigration custody, but the 4 other passengers in the car, including Rosa.

Rosa and her husband Javier have lived in the country for 10 years. Being one of the breadwinners of the family, Rosa is responsible for not only her husband and herself, but also for her two adult children living in Honduras. With her financial support, her kids stay afloat. What’s worse about all of this is the fact that Rosa has no previous criminal history. This is the first time she has been faced with a situation like this. 

Now, Rosa needs our help. She has been given the chance to bond out of BTC but her husband has only come up with 2,000 towards the total of 9,000. With the support of our community, we can get Rosa out and back to her loving husband and children.

Marvin is free and will spend Father’s Day with his family!

13 Jun

Many undocumented parents will still spend Father’s Day in detention due to the Administration’s Broken Promises

Marvin with his daughter minutes after his releaseToday Marvin Corado, an undocumented immigrant originally from Guatemala, was finally released after being detained for more than six months at a private immigrant detention center for only driving without a driver’s license. Marvin will be able to spend Father’s Day with his wife and his 5 year old daughter who is a U.S. citizen, while hundreds continue unnecessarily separated from their families due to the Administration’s failure to stop the detention and deportation of immigrants.

A national report “Restore the Promise of Prosecutorial Discretion” (Exec Summary attached) released earlier this week, outlines several shocking statistics about the scale of the failure of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) implementation of Prosecutorial Discretion (PD) one year after it was announced. In June 2011, DHS announced a new policy that was supposed to focus immigration enforcement on the “worst of the worst” and spare individuals who have been in the U.S. for years, raising families. However, only 1.5% of the 300,000 cases reviewed were closed and Prosecutorial Discretion has been poorly utilized to release fathers, mothers and DREAM Act-eligible students.

According to the report, “DHS is threatening to undermine the credibility of President Obama’s policies and standing with Latino and immigrant communities nationwide”.

Marvin’s case was featured in the report as a clear example of broken promises. Marvin came to the United States 12 years ago, is a father of a U.S. citizen, has no criminal record and was detained only for not having an ID. All these characteristics made him eligible for Prosecutorial Discretion. However, deportation officers tried several times to deport him, including the day before he was released.

As a ‘low priority’ immigrant, Marvin should not have even been detained in the first place. This is a clear cut example as to why ICE’s cosmetic changes to immigration policy have failed, and continue to fail our communities,” says Juan Escalante from Dream Activist Florida, who supported Marvin’s family and created an online petition to stop his deportation. “Cases like Marvin continue to be taken on by In-Secure Communities. We’ll continue to fight on behalf of people like him until President Obama and his administration makes considerable changes to the current immigration policies.”

Leslie Corado, Marvin’s wife, an undocumented immigrant herself, put away her fear and worked relentlessly to have her husband back home.  As she waits for Marvin to get out of the detention center, she says:  “I feel like a part of my heart came back to my life. It’s been 8 months without seeing him, this is the best thing that could happen today. My daughter cannot believe it, she is very excited. Thank you all for your help and I invite all families to fight. Yes, we can!

In Florida, we put people before politicians

12 Jun

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.


6 Sep

(See English version below)

Por: Rosana Araujo*

Rosana Araujo, Miami Workers CenterEl 1 de Septiembre de 2011, día en que Alabama implementaría una ley antiinmigrante más fuerte que la SB1070 de Arizona y bajo un cielo amenazante por la lluvia, no impidió que un grupo de activistas afros e hispanos del sur de Florida se unieran para alzar sus voces por la construcción de un centro de detención en el condado de Broward con capacidad para 2000 camas, uno de los más grandes del país.

Alrededor de las 3:00 pm comenzaron a llegar pequeños grupos de las distintas organizaciones que con carteles, y al grito de “CCA Go Away”, reflejaban la disconformidad ante la población que circulaba en sus autos sobre Griffin Rd, haciendo que muchos de ellos desconcertados se detuvieran a preguntar qué sucedía, ya que sus líderes comunales se niegan a hablar.

Después que la administración del Presidente Obama anunciara cambios en las políticas de deportación, inmigrantes en todo el país siguen siendo detenidos y deportados.

Empresas como la Corporación de Correccionales de America (CCA) y el grupo Geo, son parte del mismo negocio: la encarcelación de inmigrantes. Por ese motivo apoyan leyes como la de Arizona y programas como Comunidades Seguras, con el fin de que sus cárceles no permanezcan vacías.

Por eso digamos “NO a la construcción de cárceles Si a la construcción de escuelas”.

Levantemos nuestras voces, CCA go AWAY.

Ver más fotos acá

*Rosana es miembro del Centro de Trabajadores de Miami.

Otras organizaciones presentes: Coalición de Inmigrantes de la Florida (FLIC), Estudiantes Trabajando por la Igualdad de Derechos (SWER), Mujeres Haitianas de Miami (FANM), Unite Here

(English version)

By: Rosana Araujo*

On September 1, 2011, the day Alabama was expected to implement an anti-immigrant law stronger than Arizona’s SB1070 and under a threatening sky, the rain did not stop a group of Afro and Latino activists in South Florida come together to raise their voices against the building of a new detention center in Broward County with a capacity of 2000 beds, one of the largest in the country.

Around 3:00 pm, small groups of the various organizations started arriving with banners and shouting “CCA Go Away,” reflecting their opposition to the people that drove by in their cars on Griffin Rd. Many of them, surprised, stopped to ask what was happening since their community leaders refuse to speak.

After Obama’s administration announced changes in the deportation policies, immigrants across the country continue to be detained and deported.

Companies like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group are part of the same business: the incarceration of immigrants. That is why they support laws like Arizona and programs like Secure Communities (S-Comm) so that their prisons are always full.

We need to say “NO to prisons and YES to schools.”

Let’s raise our voices, CCA go AWAY.

See more pics here

*Rosana is member of the Miami Workers Center. 

Other organizations present at the rally were: Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER), Haitian Women of Miami (FANM), Unite Here

Immigration activists and Southwest Broward residents continue to voice their opposition to the possibility of building one of the nation’s largest immigration detention center to Southwest Ranches.

5 Aug

By Laura Figueroa

The hot bed issue of immigration now finds itself front-and-center in the 13-square mile suburb of Southwest Ranches.

Plans to build one of the nation’s largest immigration detention centers in the rustic Southwest Broward county town has riled up residents and activists alike.

An overflow crowd of some 70 people showed up at Thursday’s Southwest Ranches Town Council meeting to raise their concerns about the plan to build an 1,800 bed facility along U.S. 27.

Residents of Southwest Ranches and neighboring Pembroke Pines and Weston who spoke at the meeting were split on the need for the facility.

For those clinging to the the rural-like feel of the area where horse trails wind through communities of multimillion dollar homes, the detention facility represents a “security threat” which they fear will bring down property values.

“I moved out here because I thought I would be right up against the Everglades, not a prison,” said Betsy Blume, a Pembroke Pines resident who spoke at the meeting.

Still, some long time residents spoke in favor of the project noting it could bring an economic boost to the town’s coffers.

For immigration activists, green-lighting the facility brings concerns that the federal government is prioritizing the expansion of the country’s detention and deportation programs, and not on passing immigration reform laws that would legalize the status of undocumented immigrants.

“This is a costly and inefficient way of dealing with the situation of immigration,” said Kathy Bird, organizer for the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

The group presented a petition with more 150 signatures to the the town to reconsider its involvement in the project.

In June, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials announced that they had entered into negotiations with Southwest Ranches to build the facility on a 24-acre stretch of land.

Though negotiations still continue, and no deal has been finalized, the town was initially competing against Florida City in Miami-Dade and Belle Glade in Palm Beach, for the right to negotiate.

With room for 1,800 beds, the center would be one of the U.S.’s largest immigration holding quarters. The Krome Service Processing Center in South Dade holds 581 beds and the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach has the capacity for 700 detainees.

The center would be run by the Corrections Corporation of America, a private corrections management service, that currently owns the land where the ICE is eying in Southwest Ranches, an area west of Southwest 196th Avenue between Sheridan Street and Stirling Road.

Several of the town’s long time residents noted that its too late to designate the property for any other project, because the land was sold to CCE and zoned to be a correctional facility by Broward county, long before Southwest Ranches incorporated in 2000.

“Their concern is immigration,” said resident Vince Falletta at the meeting, speaking about the activist groups. “My concern is Southwest Ranches and what CCA could develop for our income since our budget is kind of lean.”

Southwest Ranches stands to benefit financially from having the facility within its borders. In 2005, the town inked a deal with CCA that offered the town a percentage of money per detainee held at the facility. However, to enter into the deal Southwest Ranches also has to commit $150,000 of town money annually once the facility is built.

“The town should not be in the business of profitting off of suffering and the separation of families,” said Bird.

Thursday’s meeting, came on the heels of a July 16 rally at Sawgrass Community Church that drew more than 150 locals opposed to the project. Residents from neighboring Pembroke Pines and Weston have also expressed concerns about the project’s proximity to their homes.

ICE officials say its too soon to comment on the facility’s impact on the community, because negotiations with the town are still ongoing.

“At this time, ICE and Southwest Ranches continue to work through the details of this tentative selection,” said ICE spokesman Nestor Yglesias. “If and when a formal selection occurs, the appropriate notifications will be made.”

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