Member of the Month: Pennsylvania Immigration Resources Center
The Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC), founded in 1996 on the belief of equal access to justice, provides free legal representation, education, and advocacy to help vulnerable immigrants obtain or protect their legal status. For immigrants in civil detention in the York County Prison and the family detention center in Berks County, PIRC provides legal education, advocacy, pro se assistance, and direct representation. PIRC’s Immigrant Survivors Project provides legal representation to immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault in human trafficking in multiple communities in Pennsylvania, partnering with domestic violence and sexual assault agencies to connect survivors with critical victim services. PIRC serves vulnerable immigrants in the community through the Community Defense Project, connecting detained immigrants with legal education, resources, and their loved ones in the community. PIRC also provides legal clinics for immigrants seeking immigration legal advice and assistance. PIRC began its membership in PICC in 2007 and its membership has been beneficial through: connections with nonprofits across the state who provide services to immigrants; participation in the PA is Ready! collaborative to work toward statewide goals; training and convening opportunities; and through funding support to achieve mutual goals.
Federal Policy Updates
Immigration Bills Defeated in Congress: In a major victory for immigrants and their families, neither the Goodlatte immigration bill or Ryan "compromise" bill passed the House. Both bills attempted to use the promise of a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented youth to pass dangerous increases to border enforcement and militarization and limitation on legal immigration. Because the House decided to vote on these bill, the "Queen of the Hill" effort is now dead. In order to invoke that rule again, the effort to gain signatures would have to start over.
Thank you to everyone who worked to defeat these dangerous bill! As we continue to advocate for immigration reform, we cannot compromise on our values of creating a more accessible and humane immigration system. Any bill that sacrifices the future of one generation in exchange for another runs contrary to these values and is a nonstarter.
Supreme Court upholds Muslim Ban: In a shameful 5-4 decision, conservative justices on the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Trump administration and upheld the current version of the Muslim ban. In its current form, the ban prevents immigrants, refugees, and visa holders from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen from entering the United States. The decision asserted the power of the president to indefinitely ban people from particular countries under the Immigration and Nationality Act. And, despite countless comments suggesting otherwise, the Supreme Court did not consider the ban an expression of Trump’s negative feelings towards Muslims. Learn more about the decision.
Family Separation & Family Detention: On June 20, the president signed an executive order ending the practice of separating children from their parents at the border in favor of keeping families together in indefinite detention. This order did not end the "zero tolerance" policy of prosecuting adults crossing the border. To learn more about this policy, join this month's #StoptheHate webinar.
End Family Separation Day of Action
One June 30, 2018 thousands of Pennsylvanians came together to stand up against all forms of family separation. Speakers highlighted the many ways that immigrant families are under attack, from the Muslim Ban, to the end of DACA, to threatening family unification visas, to the increased rate of detentions and deportations. A few highlights:
- Philadelphia: Close to 3000 people came out in the extreme heat. Speakers included families directed impacted by deporations and detention.
- Harrisburg: Hundreds gathered and marched around the Governor's mansion.
- Pittsburgh: Almost 2000 people gathered to hear from local public officials.
- In Reading, York, and Doylestown, hundreds of residents held rallies.
- For more pictures and articles from across PA, check out the Shut Down Berks Coalition for a more complete roundup.
Thank you to all the organizers who put these events together in only a few days, and to everyone who came out in the heat!
NEXT STEP: #ShutDown Berks!
Here in Pennsylvania, we have the chance to take a concrete step to push back against the administration's agenda of family separation and family detention by closing the Berks Family Detention Center. For the last 4 years, the Shut Down Berks Campaign has worked to close this immigrant family detention center outside of Reading. During this time, coalition members have repeatedly presented the Governor and PA Dept. of Human Services with documentation of abuses, and how they can take immediate action to close this inhumane detention center.
Unfortunately, instead of taking action, all the Governor has offered are platitudes and shifting blame. Governor Tom Wolf says that Pennsylvania stands with immigrants and refugees, but every day that Berks is still in operation, he is facilitating Trump’s vision of mass family detention and family separation. Through his inaction, he is complicit in ICE’s violations of the human rights of immigrant families detained at the prison. It is time for the Governor to stand on the side of justice.
Join the Shut Down Berks Coalition on July 15 to call on Governor Wolf to take immediate action!
#StoptheHate Monthly Educational Webinars – July
Fri Jul 6, 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Join activists from around the state who are working to stop all anti-immigrant legislation in PA and to pass pro-immigrant policies at the municipal and state levels. This month's topic: Family separation and the criminalization of asylum seekers at the US Border. David Bennion from the Free Migration Project will be presenting. Register Today!
Shut Down Berks Lobby Visit Training
Thu Jul 12, 6:00pm
Join us via webinar to get prepared for your lobby visit to Governor’s Wolf office. He needs to hear from constituents that 2018 is the year he issues an Emergency Removal Order to ensure no new families are brought to the Berks County Detention Center. This training will review the history of the center, how to lobby and the research that proves that the state of Pennsylvania can in fact issue an Emergency Removal Order.
Please register today!
Vigilia/Vigil to Shut Down Berks County Family Detention Center
Sun Jul 15, 3:30pm
Berks Detention Center, 1040 Berks Rd, Leesport, PA 19533
Pennsylvania is one of two states in the nation that hosts a prison for immigrant children, known as the Berks County Detention Center, the others being in Texas. July’s vigil will be led by Friends (Quakers) CALN Quarterly Meeting. Please join us as we continue to lift our voices for the individuals who continue to be detained in the Berks County Detention Center. RSVP & more event info on Facebook.
#StoptheHate Monthly Educational Webinars – August
Fri Aug 3, 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Join activists from around the state who are working to stop all anti-immigrant legislation in PA and to pass pro-immigrant policies at the municipal and state levels. This month's topic: Mental Health in Immigrant Communities
Fri Aug 17-19
This is a weekend dedicated to bringing together 30 immigrant youth that originate from different walks of life across PA.
Este es un fin de semana dedicado a reunir a 30 jóvenes inmigrantes de distintas areas de Pennsylvania.
For more information, contact Maria Sotomayor at email@example.com