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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid