A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Posts tagged ‘Voces de la Frontera’

Help end Secure Communities

Join with Voces de la Frontera for Immigrant Rights this week!

National Week of Action Begins Against Controversial Program
In response to the recent decision by the Obama Administration to mandate state and local participation in the controversial Secure Communities (S-Comm) program, Executive Director, Christine Neumann-Ortiz made the following statement:

“The dramatic decision of the Obama Administration to preempt the growing chorus of opposition at a state and local level to the S-Comm program and pending litigation, is a shocking development and a slap in the face to Latinos and naturalized US immigrants who gave President Obama their vote and trust in the 2008 elections.
President Obama´s rhetoric about how this program only targets dangerous criminals is by the US government’s own data, untrue.  His rhetoric about blaming Republicans for not helping pass immigration reform is completely missing the point. His record of mass deportations and the expansion of these type of programs under his leadership are shameful.  President Obama and his advisors are wrong if they believe these actions do not come with a price in the upcoming November 2012 presidential elections.¨  
On Friday, August 6, the Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notified 39 states who currently participate in S-Comm, many of whom signed voluntary opt-out clauses, that the program is now mandatory and that they cannot opt out as planned.  By 2013, DHS said, the program will be nationwide. S-Comm is a program in which fingerprints of people arrested and detained in a county jail–regardless if they are innocent of the charge or are charged with a minor infraction– are shared with immigration officials, resulting in the deportation of tens of thousands of immigrants each year.

There is now broad support across the country to end S-Comm. Law enforcement officials have determined that the program makes communities less safe and encourages racial profiling.  Community members, faith leaders, elected officials and members of Congress have all called for an investigation into S-Comm.

Contrary to DHS claims, S-Comm does not only target people charged or convicted of serious criminal offenses. In fact, according to DHS’s own data, 79 percent of individuals deported through Secure Communities between October 2008 and June 2010 were either non-criminal or were picked up for low-level offenses such as traffic violations.
The result of such a dragnet is the destruction of entire communities, as families are forced to witness their loved ones being detained and in many cases, deported. Families are separated and fall into greater poverty.  These are families that President Obama claims deserve the chance to legalize their status.
Pressure on the Obama administration to end these abuses is getting stronger each day.

This week (August 15-20th) marks a national week of action to urge Barack Obama and Congress to use their executive powers to stop the inhumane detentions and deportations.  Join in the action by sharing this alternative downloadable report with your Congress members. Click on the link below and print it out or copy and paste and send it as a link to your Reps and Senators!


Top 10 reasons WI does not want to copy AZ

For many of my FSPA readers it’s Chapter of Chats week! I’ll see some of you very soon.

Check out another great resource from Voces on the copy cat bill introduced by Rep. Pridemore – do not miss the link at the end that lets you sign a petition to let Rep.Pridemore know WI will not become another AZ!

1. Immigrants Deserve Our Respect, Not Our Disdain

Contrary to conservative talking points, the majority of immigrants are not criminals or welfare parasites, but rather hard-working folks who simply want to earn a living. In fact, Harvard professor Robert Sampson has found that immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes than other people. Undocumented immigrants also contribute more to state and local economies in taxes than they absorb in social services, including billions paid to Social Security.

2. Arizona-Style Laws Are Expensive

Since it passed SB 1070, the state of Arizona has spent over $1 million on legal defense and has paid out hundreds of thousands more to public relations firms to restore the state’s image. The Wisconsin bill’s opponents have already promised a public campaign and legal action against the bill.

3. Civil Rights Violations Will Skyrocket

Pridemore’s proposed law would require police to check the immigration status of anyone who is arrested, not just those convicted of crimes. Giving local law enforcement officials the power to threaten any undocumented immigrant they encounter with deportation is dangerous — that kind of unchecked power permits officers to threaten, coerce or manipulate any undocumented person at will. Communities across Wisconsin will surely see a disturbing uptick in civil rights violations.

4. Policing Will Suffer

Local law enforcement, already strapped for cash by the recession, will have to spend precious staff time and resources to check the immigration status of every “suspected” undocumented immigrant. That’s why Arizona law enforcement was against SB 1070. It’s also why Milwaukee Police don’t ask suspects about their immigration status — it’s a waste of time for immigration authorities. “Do you really think they’re going to come at 2 o’clock in the morning in District 7 to pick up a bricklayer who just got caught without a driver’s license and is here illegally?” says Milwaukee’s police chief.

5. Immigrants Will Be Less Likely to Report Crimes

Immigrants that are scared of being deported are less likely to tell police when they witness or are victims of crimes. Pridemore’s proposed law would reduce reporting by victims of domestic violence, theft or violent assaults.

6. Families Will Be Needlessly Divided

Under this policy, a law-abiding undocumented mother or father of citizen children could be pulled over for a broken tail-light, booked, then permanently deported within days, leaving responsibility of the children to local social service agencies. It just doesn’t make sense — the state loses a hard-working taxpayer, and children lose their parents.

Little girl holding American flag

This little girl holds an American flag at a rally in Postville, Iowa.

7. Many Citizens Can’t Prove Their Legal Status

Thirteen million people — seven percent of the U.S. population and primarily poor women — don’t currently have documents that prove they are citizens, says a study by New York University. Even more worrying are mistaken deportations like that of Mark Lyttle, a mentally ill U.S. citizen who was recently deported to Mexico.

8. Private Prisons Will Benefit, Not the Public

Private prisons stand to gain millions from laws that criminalize immigrants and cause incarceration to rise. Investigators recently uncovered that ALEC, a membership organization of state legislators and corporations, including private prison companies, played a major role in the drafting of Arizona’s SB 1070 law. Wisconsin’s new governor-elect, Scott Walker, was a member of ALEC and has supported the private prison corporate agenda for years.

9. Wisconsin Has Bigger Concerns

Like the rest of the nation, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has remained stubbornly high while local and state governments, schools and social services are facing crushing cutbacks. Wisconsin has more to worry about than immigrants who haven’t caused social or economic problems in the state.

10. No One Says Immigrants Are Bad for Wisconsin

In his announcement, Rep. Pridemore made a clumsy link between Wisconsin immigrants and “the illegal drug trade” and a host of other generic social problems. The fact is, no one has provided proof or even claimed that immigrants are to blame for any of the state’s problems. Rather than sparking a foolhardy and costly campaign to bring Arizona’s discredited law to Wisconsin, Pridemore should tackle issues that really matter to Wisconsinites.

Sign the petition and tell Representative Don Pridemore that Wisconsin Won’t Be the Next Arizona!


Photo copyright: FSPA Communications Department

Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me…

So much of civil discourse in recent years has been robbed of the importance and beauty of recognizing our powerful inter-connection to one another and to Earth. Instead we appear to be in a frenzy to point out what is different and mark those differences in alienating and unjust laws and social policy. These radical demarcations of power and privilege are then upheld as social triumphs that create safety and punish those who “deserve” it.

Nothing is more emblematic of this problem than the debate that surrounds immigration. Migrants and their families are placed in the category of criminals while punishing policies and laws masquerade as solutions that create safety and justice.

Are we in such a state of scarcity as a nation that we cannot respect the basic civil rights of people who live here? The right to education, housing, health care, work and safe passage are universal human rights that are not based in citizenship.

They are based in being human and as signers of the Universal Declarations of Human Rights we are accountable as a nation to crafting laws and policies that respect those rights. As human beings linked to one another and to Earth we are accountable for creating a world that reflects the soul deep knowledge that how we act toward one another reflects our beliefs in the sacred, in democracy, and in human dignity – and  that matters. Justice cannot flow from distortions created by fear and prejudice – it needs the wild love of inclusion.

This sign was caught on camera by FSPA at an immigration rally in Postville, Iowa.

Please consider joining with allies for immigrants across the state in the actions listed below and helping to turn the tide in “whatever we did not do…”

Emergency Action Alert: Defend Public Education, In-State Tuition Rights, and Denounce AZ Copycat Bill! 


Thursday, June 2nd in Madison


We urgently need people to come to the Capitol in Madison this Thursday, June 2nd at 12:45 PM in Room 412 (East) to protest the Joint Finance Committee vote to repeal  instate tuition rights for Wisconsin’s immigrant youth and massive cuts to public education. Walker’s budget forces taxpayers to pay for the children of wealthy families to attend  private schools while attacking the quality of education for working class families and the poor.

Come to Madison to hold legislators accountable for the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin’s children whose futures will suffer if this budget is passed!

Bus Schedule

RACINE – Bus leaves from Pick n Save, 2210 Rapids Drive at 7:30 am

MILWAUKEE – Bus leaves from Voces de la Frontera Action (1027 S. 5th St.) at 10:30 am

All buses will return in the evening.  To sign up, please call (414) 469-9206.

Thank you for standing with us to protect the educational future of all children!  Education is a right, not a privilege!

Saturday, June 4th in Milwaukee


Voces de la Frontera Action and allied organizations will be sponsoring a civil rights march and rally to condemn Governor Walker’s proposed budget which robs our children of their basic civil rights and jeopardizes the future of our communities, our city and our state.  All children have the right to schools that offer art, physical education, music, library, school nurses, a kindergarten program, school buses, and reasonable class sizes.

All children raised in WI deserve in-state tuition at public universities and technical colleges, including immigrant students!

Parents, teachers, students & community members:  Defend your children’s right to public education!

• 11am gather at MacDowell Montessori (17th & Highland)
• March across the 16th Street Bridge (James E. Groppi Unity Bridge)
• Rally outside Forest Home Elementary (1516 W Forest Home Ave)

Tuesday, June 7th in Madison


On May 23rd, Rep. Don Pridemore (R-Hartford) announced plans to introduce an Arizona-copycat bill in Wisconsin which will undermine the state’s economy and legalize racial profiling.

Voces de la Frontera Action and Wisconsin Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (WNIRR) will host a press conference on Tuesday, June 7th at 1:00PM  at the State Capitol to protest the bill. We invite organizations to write press statements/statements and share them with Elena Lavarreda at statewideorganizer.voces@gmail.com, as well as joining us at this action.

For those that cannot attend the June 7th press conference in Madison please contact your legislator here and call Governor Walker at (608) 266-1212 to say, “We don’t want an Arizona-copycat bill in Wisconsin!”

Click here to view the current version of the Pridemore bill

For more information on these events, contact Voces de la Frontera Action at (414) 643-1620

SB 1070 comes to Wisconsin

A copy cat of Senate Bill 1070 has come to Wisconsin. Please read below the quote from Rep. Pridemore on his motivation for introducing it and the statement from immigrant justice group Voces about the deep concerns the bill raises. This is home for many of you that read this – so I know that makes it even harder to see a bill based on discrimination and fear labeled a way to make Wisconsin a “safe haven.”

I have included an antidote…a short video from Princeton Professor Cornel West who reminds us that Love is the answer. Stay tuned for actions on this bill from the FSPA Justice and Peace committee.

“This is an action that should have begun long ago when the federal government and the current administration stopped efforts to secure our borders,” Pridemore said in a statement. “Now that the illegal drug trade and human trafficking have put the lives and property of those along our borders in peril, we must do all we can to dissuade the criminal element from looking at Wisconsin as a safe haven.” Rep.  Don Pridemore

Voces de la Frontera Condemns Introduction of Arizona-Copycat Bill in Wisconsin

As the largest immigrant rights organization in the state, Voces de la Frontera unequivocally condemns the passage of any racist, anti-immigrant legislation in Wisconsin.

Yesterday Representative Don Pridemore (R-Hartford) introduced a bill requiring law enforcement officers in Wisconsin to interrogate people they detain about their immigration status if they have ‘reasonable suspicion” that the person is undocumented.  However, the vagueness of the term “reasonable suspicion” is exactly what gives cover to legalizing racial profiling.

“We will not tolerate this vicious bill, designed to lead directly to racial profiling and the criminalization of innocent people. Voces is prepared to mobilize widely in opposition.” says Primitivo Torres, president of Voces de la Frontera.

The bill is modeled after Arizona’s SB-1070, the controversial anti-immigrant law which prompted mass boycotts and cost that state hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business revenue.  The Center for American Progress estimates that boycotts against Arizona in response to SB 1070 could cost the state more than $250 million in taxes, tourist spending and wages.  Pridemore’s bill is designed to do the same to Wisconsin, a state already facing economic challenges.

The bill also requires people to carry certain documents available to prove their immigration status or else risk being arrested, jailed, and deported.  People of color are more likely to be racially profiled and more likely to be interrogated; this also violates their rights to be treated as equals under the law.

This legislation also violates US Constitutional rules, including the denial of Fourteenth Amendment equal protection guarantees, because it encourages racial discrimination against Latinos and other people having foreign appearance or who sound foreign.  By interfering with the federal government’s authority to regulate and enforce immigration law, it also opposes the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution.

Pridemore’s legislation claims that it is designed to avoid racial profiling, but it clearly encourages police officers to base their actions on people’s appearance and characteristics as race, ethnicity, language, and social class.

This law would greatly harm the trust that authorities need from the public to protect Wisconsin residents.  The law would also compel law enforcement officers to assign scarce resources to investigate false threats instead of solving serious crimes.

Voces de la Frontera and our allies will fight to ensure that Wisconsin does not inherit the moral and economic burden that has devastated Arizona.

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