News / USA

Activists: Independence Day Falls Short for Some Immigrants

Children of immigration activists participate in the New Sanctuary Movement's "Un-Barbecue" for immigrant justice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 3, 2013. (Photo by Nicole Kligerman)
Children of immigration activists participate in the New Sanctuary Movement's "Un-Barbecue" for immigrant justice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 3, 2013. (Photo by Nicole Kligerman)
Barbecues and fireworks symbolic of America’s fight for freedom are a tradition of Independence Day celebrations in the United States. But this year, immigration activists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of America, are marking July 4 by fasting.
 
The interfaith immigrant rights group the New Sanctuary Movement staged a so-called “un-barbecue” on Wednesday, setting up empty plates, picnic baskets and grills around the iconic Liberty Bell to draw attention to the freedoms that aren’t shared with undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
 
“It’s no picnic for the immigrant community in this country. They’re still lacking that liberty and justice,” said Peter Pedemonti, director of the New Sanctuary Movement and one of dozens of activists fasting for 40 days in the name of immigration reform.
 
“People are being separated from their families every day,” he said, noting that 1,000 undocumented immigrants are deported daily from the U.S. “That’s certainly not the liberty and justice I think our forefathers imagined and that people throughout history have struggled and fought for.” 
 
The New Sanctuary movement is pushing the Philadelphia government to stop participating in the Preliminary Arraignment Reporting System, which allows U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] to access Philadelphia’s police database. The system helps ICE determine if suspects picked up by the police are in the U.S. illegally. 
 
“If someone’s arrested even for a traffic violation, the information is shared with ICE, and ICE can put a hold on them and take them into police custody, then ICE custody, then deportation. It violates people’s rights to due process and a trial,” Pedemonti said.
 
PARS is similar to the Secure Communities program managed by ICE, which has stirred controversy across the U.S. Opponents say immigration agents are using their partnerships with local and state law enforcement agencies as a general deportation tool, rather than a way to identify criminals. 
 
The Obama administration, which has deported record numbers of people, says it is focusing on undocumented immigrants considered a threat to public safety.

For more on the deportations, visit Immigration: The New Face of America
 
9/11 Families for a Secure America supports Philadelphia’s partnership with ICE. The group, formed after the September 11, 2011 attacks on the U.S., says concealing “illegal alien criminals from federal immigration authorities will result in the deaths of innocent Americans.”
 
The Philadelphia mayor’s office did not respond to VOA’s request for comment.
 
The U.S. Congress is debating an immigration reform bill that could help millions of undocumented immigrants gain legal status by paying back taxes and passing other  requirements. The bill, if passed, also would boost security along the U.S.-Mexico border.
 
Pedemonti said he would welcome the relief to undocumented immigrants, but added that no amount of border security or monitoring will solve the problem of illegal immigration. That, he said, can only be addressed by looking at the reasons why people come to the U.S.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid