Monday, January 18, 2016

Are Detention Raids Orchestrated for Profit?

We have been aware of intensified ICE activity in Alachua and Marion counties, part of the drive to round up women and children from Central America who crossed the border without papers.

Michael Ratner and the Center for Constitutional Rights are trying to uncover whether these raids are primarily intended to meet bed quotas in for-profit detention centers:

Fighting government secrecy on immigration detention incentives

As Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids make headlines and generate outrage, CCR is pursuing a case that sheds some light on this situation. In 2014, together with our partners at Detention Watch Network, we filed aFreedom of Information Act lawsuit to force ICE and the Department of Homeland Security to disclose information about the so-called “detention bed quota.” Congress requires the agencies to fund 34,000 detention beds daily, and government contracts with private prison corporations – 62% of immigrant detainees are held in for-profit prisons – incentivize ICE and DHS to fill as many beds as possible.
The idea that immigrants are being rounded up, detained, and deported because of perverse incentives of the prison industrial complex is troubling, to say the least. But on top of it, ICE and DHS are fighting to keep information about those contracts secret; they have invoked an exemption in the FOIA rules that protects “commercial or financial information” in order to avoid public scrutiny of the pricing schemes. We will be filing our latest response to this argument with the court tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Welcoming Diversity: Islamophobia and Intolerance

You are invited to join us for "Welcoming Diversity: A Community Action Forum on Islamophobia and Intolerance" 6 p.m. Wednesday January 20 at the historic Thomas Center, 302 NE 6th Avenue in Gainesville, FL.

This event is related to the resistance towards receiving refugees from Syria, increased anti-Muslim rhetoric, and growing attitudes of intolerance. The aim of the event is to highlight these issues – and to identify ways to make Gainesville a welcoming community. It will facilitate discussions on Islam and inter-faith relations, the refugee crisis in Syria, and the role of the media in shaping public perception of these issues. The event will provide opportunities to get involved; ranging from activities within our community to offering support for the Syrian refugees. Come learn more about what is being done in Gainesville and how you can be involved!

Our keynote speaker is Dr. Hatem Bazian, Ph.D, Philosophy and Islamic Studies, UC Berkeley.
Other speakers include Ester Romeyn (UF), Justin Baba (Arab Students’ Association), Iman Zawahry (UF), Hassan Shibly (CAIR) and Terje Ostebo (UF).

This event is sponsored by Daughters of Abraham,Center for Global Islamic Studies at the University of Florida, Welcoming Gainesville, inc. and Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice.

Next IAIJ Meeting January 11

Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice meets on the second Monday of every month at the Mennonite meeting house, 1236 NW 18th Avenue (across from Gainesville HS, 18th is a short street between PNC and Wells Fargo banks).
Our next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Monday January 11, 2016.
Everyone is welcome.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Save the Date

Save the Date

Saturday September 19, 2015  University of Florida

IAIJ will host a gathering of individuals and organizations working together for justice for farm workers and reform of our broken immigration system.

A full program will be posted soon.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Fair Food Campaign with Publix Begins Again 

A delegation from Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Interfaith Justice, ACTION Network, Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Gainesville Friends Meeting, and Westminster Presbyterian Church visited the management at the Westgate Publix store at  University Avenue and SW 34th Street at noon on Tuesday, October 7 to request a meeting to discuss our concerns.  The manager promised to forward our letter to corporate headquarters, but declined our invitation for a personal conversation.

The campaign has only just begun.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Unaccompanied Children on the Border

A Plea for Local Action

The United Methodist Church proposed an interfaith weekend of prayer July 18-20 for the children and teenagers who have come across the border seeking asylum from violence at home.

Will you invite your church, mosque or synagogue to share in prayer for a just solution to this problem, one that protects these youngsters from violence and exploitation?

Here in Gainesville we can target next weekend July 25-27 giving us more time to reach out to local faith communities.

We can do it, but only with your help.

This weekend a large number of local protests are being held by anti-immigrant groups.  None of them north of Orlando.

Let's combine an interfaith weekend of prayer next weekend (July 25-27) with a public service in behalf of these children.  Sunday afternoon July 27?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Call to Prayer and Action

Thanks to Bishop Carcano and Bill Mefford from the United Methodist Church for taking the lead on the Interfaith Weekend of Compassion and Prayer for Unaccompanied Migrant Children, July 18-20, 2014.
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Civil and Human Rights

Protect the Children!
Join Bishop CarcaƱo in Praying and Acting to Protect Unaccompanied Children
As the President and Congress try to deport the immigrant children let's ensure their rights are protected!
Your church can pray for the protection of the children this weekend, July 18-20. The undocumented minors who have travelled hundreds of miles to escape the violence in their home countries need your prayers and support! The California-Pacific Conference has created some really valuable resources. Join us in prayer and action!
July 15, 2014

There are several things you and your congregation can do:

  1. Your church can pray for the protection of the children, who have travelled hundreds of miles to escape the violence in their home countries. This weekend, July 18-20, join the California-Pacific Conference in prayer and action. Cal-Pac has created some really valuable resources for you to download and don't forget to register so we know who is participating!
  2. You and your church can — no SHOULD  call your members of Congress and urge them NOT to repeal the provisions in the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). This bill was unanimously agreed to by ALLmembers of Congress. It would not return vulnerable migrants to danger and it would reduce the likelihood that the U.S. would deport children back into the hands of traffickers and others who would exploit them. Proposed changes to the TVPRA mean that children would not have a meaningful opportunity to have their story heard, apply for asylum, or be cared for humanely by child-welfare personnel. The children would be deported to potentially life-threatening situations. Congress should NOT rescind this bipartisan law at precisely the time when more children are in need of these protections.

    Call 1-888-427-0530 and ask for both your Senators and your Representative and say,
"As a United Methodist, please protect unaccompanied children and don't repeal the TVPRA!" (You can find out the names of your Senators and Representative here!)
  1. Support the work of Justice for Our Neighbors, a United Methodist Ministry, as it serves unaccompanied children. This is probably one of the most practical things you can do! You can give to support the work of JFON or, even better, you can volunteer and serve your immigrant sisters and brothers directly! Or you can do both!!
  2. Lastly, come to Washington, .DC., on Thursday, July 31, to tell the President to stop ALL deportations! Over 2 million deportations and now the President and Congress want to repeal provisions in an existing law — the TVPRA — so they can deport more! For years we have been hearing that what is needed is to simply "enforce the law." Now, we have a law in place that protects vulnerable migrants, and sadly there is agreement by both Democrats and Republicans to repeal it! This shows us that immigration policy in the United States has very little to do with reasonable policy. Rather, it is rooted in isolationism, protectionism, and detachment: all of which are antithetical to our call as Christians to love and provide hospitality for the most vulnerable.
I urge you to let me know ASAP if you can join people of faith from all over to sacrificially engage in civil disobedience in front of the White House on July 31 and urge President Obama to stop ALL deportations, whether the person is 5 years old or 105.
Let's stop the repression.
In Christ,
Bill Mefford
Director, Civil and Human Rights

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