‘Independence Day’ rings hollow for Philly’s undocumented immigrants

immigration reform new sanctuary movement of philadelphia
Blanca Pacheco is fasting for immigration reform. (Credit: Facebook / New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia).

Americans traditionally treat Independence Day as an observance of the country’s hard-won freedom and liberties.

But some activists say for undocumented immigrants in the U.S., there’s nothing to celebrate this Fourth of July.

“There’s a huge number of families who are not at liberty,” said Blanca Pacheco, an organizer with interfaith immigrants rights coalition the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia.

“They live in fear every day of something happening. They go to work and don’t know if they will come back home, and that fear has people locked up.”

Members of New Sanctuary will on Wednesday host an “Un-barbecue” at the Liberty Bell, with empty grills, plates and picnic baskets symbolizing the lack of freedom faced by the city’s immigrants.

Advocates on June 22 launched a 40 day campaign of fasting and prayer, calling for humane federal immigration reform and for Philadelphia to end its partnership with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

The voluntary agreement allows ICE to access a database of arrestees through the Preliminary Arraignment Reporting System and to issue detainers for those they suspect to be undocumented citizens.

“This happens [over] a lifetime, so whenever someone is arrested for any reason – it could be running a traffic stop, having a car accident, or they make a mistake and are in the wrong place at the wrong time – immigration is able to see who these people are,” Pacheco said.

The Ecuadorian native emigrated 12 years ago in search of family sustaining job opportunities.

But because of her undocumented status, she found she was unable to attend college and lived in constant fear of deportation.

“I’m a single mother and worried something can happen to me and then I will get caught,” she said.

But Pacheco’s sense of social justice has eclipsed her trepidation.

“I do think that I have lived in fear for the last eight or nine years and I just got sick of it,” she said.

“At this point, I am willing to fight for the community that is needing, a community like me. This needs to stop happening. I think at this point, I am not afraid anymore.”

She and other advocates are hoping by the July 31 end of their fast, city officials may be ready to come to the table and discuss ending the ICE contract, which is up for renewal in August.

“It’s so easy for people to say, ‘deport them, just throw them into the trash,’ but people have forgotten we are talking about human beings and we are not here to attack this country or to get public benefits, as many people say – we can’t,” Pacheco said.

“We are here to work, and we work hard. We just want to live free of fear as a human being with dignity.”

Federal progress?

The U.S. Senate recently passed a bipartisan immigration bill increasing border security and cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers while providing a pathway to legal citizenship for some immigrants who came to America as children.

Still, the New Sanctuary movement estimates 5.5 million undocumented citizens won’t be eligible for legal status under the bill.

That includes Pacheco, who came to America at the age of 17, missing the eligibility cutoff of 16 by one year.

“So many people are really excited thinking this is it, that immigration problems are going to be resolved, but they’re not. There are good things included in this bill but also terrible things,” Pacheco said, noting the increase in funding for border protection.

“The only way to prevent illegal immigration is to have a legal way for people to come. While there’s a need, people will risk their lives. This is only going to cause more people dying.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.