With a sweep of anti-immigration legislation in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, Tamara Jimenez, a volunteer at the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, said it’s time for immigrants in the city to get informed and stand up for themselves.
The organization is planning an event to help raise awareness and pressure the public to stop copycat anti-immigration laws in Pennsylvania like the Arizona Immigration Law or SB 1070.
At the event, the organization will be screening Under Arpaio, a documentary about a sheriff in Arizona who is the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America” on immigration.
Jiminez said: “He obtains immigrants in inhumane conditions. We want to show people here in Philadelphia what immigrants go through.”
Peter Pedemonti, co-founder and co-coordinator of the organization, said immigrants in Philadelphia are not informed about the legislation being introduced and passed not only in the state but in the city as well.
Jiminez said anti-immigration bills like those in National Security Begins at Home, a legislative package of bills introduced by State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Pa., and Philadelphia’s own Secure Communities program, causes thousands of illegal immigrants in the city to live in fear.
Pedemonti said the Secure Communities program allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Philadelphia Police Department to share databases. Since the bill was passed in 2008, both have been able to access immigration status records as well as police records.
Pedemonti said because of this access families are being deported after even the simplest altercations with police.
“This creates a lot of fear in the community. It jeopardizes safety in Philadelphia. Immigrant communities will not call police because they are scared of being connected with immigration.”
City legislators have the opportunity to revoke the legislation in August. The New Sanctuary Movement is now working to organize people to put pressure on them to do so.
The film screening will be on April 29 at 5 p.m. in Visitation B.V.M. Church, which is located at 2695 B St.
Jiminez said: “I think change comes within the community first. Even though [immigrants] are the ones being targeted, as soon as we see a person fighting against us, we retreat and we don’t stand up, we have to inform the community. We need to find a positive solution, not just retreat back.”