Monday, February 1, 2010

From Miami to DC: Stop Separating Immigrants from the US Citizens That Love Them

Early last week, I had the honor of driving with ten community members from Miami to Washington, D.C. to participate in a rally. Representatives of WeCount!, the Miami Workers Center, and South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice – including three fasters from the Fast for Our Families – joined many other representatives of the faith community, workers rights organizations, and immigrants rights advocates to call on the Obama Administration to the end of the separation of immigrants from their U.S. citizen family members.

On January 26th, just before noon, we reached the Department of Homeland Security office, where other concerned activists and organizations had already started to gather. From where we stood, we could look to the Northwest and see the Washington Monument, and look to the Northeast to see the Capitol building.

We started to march, carrying signs proclaiming “Reform Not Raids”, “Stop Separating Families”, and “Immigrants Work for America’s Prosperity: Justice for All Workers." For the good of all of our families, we marched in front of the Department of Homeland Security.

Soon we gathered together for a few words from active leaders of the immigrant rights movement. The day of the protest was significant – January 26th was the day before President Obama’s State of the Union address. As one speaker stated, we were there to protest “one year of inaction, one year of broken promises, one year of an administration that has failed to protect immigrant families and the US citizens that love them.”

Maria Rodriguez of the Florida Immigrant Coalition introduced the three fasters present from the Fast for Our Families - Wilfredo Mendoza, Sebastian Cano, and Francisco Agustin. Maria stated, “We are here because the state of the Union is broken when immigrant families, immigrant workers, and U.S. workers are not respected. We have said, ‘Enough is enough’.”

After the program, twenty brave individuals put their bodies on the line to stress the need for change. Invoking the names of Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, Cesar Chavez, and many more, these determined activists lined up on the cross walk and proceeded to sit down, blocking the traffic on 12th Street and then Independence Avenue. Stated a Reverend that was part of this action of civil disobedience, “It’s time we must bring about justice and equality for all, or there does not exist peace or justice or equality for any of us.”

Following the rally, my friends from South Florida and I walked from D Street past the Washington Monument, and over to the White House. We had been trying to see the White House all day – that symbol of power that has control of whether immigrants and the U.S. citizens who love them are allowed to stay together. We were determined to see the White House before we left for Miami, because there is still hope that this situation that faces immigrants can change for the better.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Breaking Our Fast and Continuing Our Struggle

Today marks the 17th day since we started the Fast for Our Families, entering St. Ann’s Catholic Mission in Naranja, Florida. On New Year’s Day we vowed to only consume liquids until President Obama heard the v oice of all families being torn apart by this broken immigration system. We made this promise as humble people in a community devastated by raids, detentions, and deportations. We made this promise as people forced to endure the daily phone calls about someone’s family being deported. We have been deported ourselves, and survived the desert just to see our children again. We have seen the government telling us that our families don’t deserve to be together. We have been detained in jails, and detention centers, and humiliated into wearing electronic shackles. We have been treated as if we are not human.

On New Year’s Day we decided that our government must recognize our humanity. We did this in the only way we know how, by our own personal sacrifice. We sacrificed our
bodies for the sake of our families and millions like us around the country. We did this so that the government would respond to the cries of our children that need their parents, of our husbands that need their wives, and of our mothers that need their children. Three of us were sent to the hospital. We understood the risks, and still we persevered.

Our community saw our sacrifice and responded with their support. People from all over Florida would visit us, pray with us, and bring us blankets and water. People from all over the country - New Hampshire, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, California, Wisconsin, and Kansas - responded to our sacrifice by fasting in solidarity, sometimes for one day, sometimes for ten days. This solidarity and support was the only food we had for more that two weeks. We dedicated some of that sacrifice to our brothers and sisters in Haiti, and to their families here.

Unfortunately, our sacrifice did not bring a just response from our President or his Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. In part, this was surely because he was focused on helping our Haitian brothers and sisters, but that focus did not stop ICE from detaining more people or separating more families this week. A parishioner of St. Ann’s, our home for 17 days, was detained just days ago. Our Secretary of Homeland Security was less than a mile away from St. Ann’s yesterday. Despite a request from one of Miami’s most respected Haitian leaders, Marleine Bastien, she declined to reach out to us.

On this day, January 17, we have decided to end our fast. After watching the suffering of our Haitian brothers and sisters, and seeing the determination of the Department of Homeland Security to ignore the voices of immigrant families fighting to stay together, we must continue our struggle in a different way, but the Fast for Our Families will not end. We are asking others to continue our struggle and to take on our sacrifice in the name of the millions of immigrant families like ours. In the coming weeks, we will take our struggle directly to Washington, DC. On January 27, those of us that can travel freely will be at the steps of the Department of Homeland Security. We are asking for your continued commitment and sacrifice to keep all of our families together and our communities strong, from Naranja to New York and from the US to Haiti.

The Longest Block - Napolitano in Miami

When is a block more than just a block?

Secretary Napolitano came to Miami today (Saturday). She and Vice-President Biden visited with Haitian leaders in Little Haiti, as they should, and then traveled to Homestead Air Force Base. Napolitano passed within one block of the Fast for Our Families at St Ann's Mission. One block!

From our understanding, per a call this evening, the trip was planned by the Vice-President's people, which is why the Fast wasn't on the agenda. Even so and even though the trip surrounded Haiti and much-needed relief efforts, the Fast for Our Families began almost two weeks before Haiti's devastating earthquake. Letters were sent and calls were made by all of us without any response from Secretary Napolitano.

While we recognize and appreciate that TPS has been issued for Haitians, it is only what should have been done years ago. In the wake of the devastation in Haiti, it is the moral thing to do. And while we also appreciate the aid being sent to Haiti by the US government, I'm currently sitting at the church watching a group of people prepare a sign asking for donations for medicine and water. This is a poor church and yet they care and want to help Haiti. Why should our government do anything less?

Yet our government is doing less for the families in this church, for the families in this community. That needs to change.


Friday, January 15, 2010

“They said I need to eat”

Day 15 – “They said I need to eat”

It was a very long day. Jonathan’s brother called at nine last night and I still didn’t have news for him.

Sebastien was released just after that. His blood sugar levels were normal again, thank goodness, but it still seems like something that should be followed. Someone brought him back to the tent at the church to pick up his things and he looked a little distressed. He huddled to the side with Jenny and Ana and then Jenny called me over to speak to him. “Yo quiero seguir apollando (I want to keep supporting).” It took me a moment and then I realized what he was saying. He wanted to know if it would be okay for him to stay in the tent with the fasters. He didn’t want to leave. He said that he would go out early in the morning for some broth and then come back but he wanted to stay with the fasters. Bless his heart. Of course, he should stay!

We left for the hospital just after that, taking Jenny and Ana with us as they insisted on seeing Jonathan and Francisco. We visited with Jonathan first who was carefully considering the orange jello that a nurse had just brought him. His breathing was somewhat labored but his spirits were good.

Agusto was delighted to see us, particularly Jenny and Ana, expressing surprise that they had left the church to check on him. He looked so young alone in the room with an iv in his arm. He was awaiting the results of an ultrasound to check on his heart.

At six this morning, Agusto was released from the hospital with instructions to follow up with a doctor in 24 hours. When we asked him what the doctor said, he quickly responded, "They said I need to eat!" Well, that's probably true, but he needs to slowly begin with broth and work his way from there. We're somewhat concerned that the doctor treated him differently than he treated Jonathan. There was much more care given to Jonathan as someone slowly coming off a 14 day fast.

Jonathan is still in the hospital and called to express concern about the other fasters and solidarity with the Haitians in our community and in Haiti. He's been watching non-stop coverage in the hospital and, as all of you know, it's heartbreaking. How is it possible that the administration is not offering TPS (Temporary Protected Status) to Haitians? How is it possible that mothers are on Day 15 of a fast pleading to stay with their American children? That a US citizen is fasting to stay with his wife? How is it possible?

South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice
305 598 1404

Thursday, January 14, 2010

They Never Tell You About the Bees – 3 Fasters Go To Hospital

The doctor came today. Sebastien, the sixth faster who joined on Day 6, may have diabetes. He’ll be leaving the fast after 7 days. He’s quietly talking with Ana right now. He says that he doesn’t want to leave the fast. He must. He can stay in solidarity but this is serious.

Ana’s sugar is low. We’re waiting to see what the doctor says. She’s sitting in a bright yellow FIU sweatshirt and trying to comfort Sebastien, explaining to him how he’ll need to change his diet in the future.

Jenny looks the worst that I’ve seen her with circles under her eyes and no vibrancy at all. Jenny is usually so “vivo” but what else could we expect on Day 14 of a fast? Her son, Jacinto, turned 13 yesterday. His 15-year-old sister, Stephanie, made him a cake. I can’t help but wonder, if Jenny is sent back to Honduras, how many other birthday cakes will she miss with her children?

The doctor is here. Three fasters are going to the hospital. Francisco may have had a heart attack – the after symptoms point that way. He needs tests. He quietly asked me if he could come back to the fast after they do the tests. “I won’t let them give me food and I can come back, right?” It broke my heart.

Jonathan says he feels fine but the doctor insists that he go to the hospital as well. He has shortness of breath and an issue with his electrolytes that could point to something more serious. He’s determined to come back.

The doctor is recommending that Jenny and Ana go to the hospital as well. Jenny’s pulse and blood pressure are very low. Ana’s sugar is dangerously low. They pressure the doctor. “It’s my baby. It’s my life. You have to understand,” Jenny is declaring. I have tears in my eyes. The fast could cost her life and leaving her children could cost her life. How does one even begin to fathom that choice? How does it even come to that?

Ana is sitting quietly in the corner, swatting away a bee with one hand. The bees started to come about a week ago. Apparently they are attracted to the fruit smell that the fasters give off. The bees really bother Ana. She was swarmed by bees in the desert on her way back to her children.

We just said good bye to Francisco, Sebastien, and Jonathan. Ana, Jenny, and Wilfredo are still here. Please don’t forget them. Call Janet Napolitano (866-587-3023). Now is the time for her to come to Miami. Our community is in pain. Haitians can’t locate their families. People are fasting in tents to stay with their families. Now is the time to speak out – speak out for the families in our community. They need you. We need you.

South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice


More details to follow.

For Our Sister People of Haiti


En estos momentos de tanto dolor para nuestro hermano pueblo Haitiano, nosotros, los ayunantes, nos solidarizamos y enviamos nuestras condolencias. Nuestros pensamientos y todas nuestras oraciones van dirigidas a aquellos que aun no tienen noticia de sus familiares o peor aun han perdido a algun ser querido en este desastre natural. Por esto, pedimos al presidente Obama que les conseda un T.P.S. para que así puedan apoyar a su pais y a sus familiares en estos momentos de angustia.


In these moments of pain for our Haitian brothers and sisters, we, the fasters, want to express our solidarity and send our condolences. Our thoughts and all our prayers are with those who still don’t have news from their family in Haiti or, even worse, have lost a loved one in this natural disaster. Therefore, we call on President Obama to grant Temporary Protected Status to Haitians in the United States so that they can support their country and their family members in this moment of anguish.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Taking Measure and Taking Action

Dear Friends:

It’s early in the morning of Day 8 of the Fast for Our Families. It’s time to make an evaluation of our successes so far, and our challenges.

First, our grassroots support: Attracted by the spiritual aspect of our fast, groups of Christians, both Catholic and evangelical, have come to pray with us every day, so that God watches over us and intercedes with President Obama and his administration to end the nightmare of family separation. Today at noon, a group of five clergy members will be visiting and holding a press conference to support the fast and call on the administration to act. Barring technical difficulties, you will see the conference on our 12 noon webcast.

We have had lots of visits from members of two grassroots organizations in the South Dade area, the Farmworker Association of Florida and WeCount!, the organization to which I belong. Today, the Farmworker Association is coming to hold a one-day solidarity fast, and tomorrow WeCount! will do the same. We also expect visits today from members of the Miami Workers Center, Sisterhood of Survivors and Unite for Dignity.

There has also been grassroots support in other parts of the country. Deborah de Santos has been on a week-long solidarity fast in New Hampshire. Groups in Texas and Milwaukee are doing solidarity fasts or actions. We have connected with Jean Montrevil, a leader of the New Sanctuary Movement in New York who was detained by ICE, which intends to deport him to Haiti, separating him from his family. We have received messages of support from around the country.

Second, support from the immigrant rights movement: We support the long-term solution of immigration reform that provides a just and humane way for undocumented immigrants to get on the path to citizenship. We want the DREAM Act to pass now – there is no reason it shouldn’t have passed years ago. We are concerned about what’s going to be in the “official” Democratic comprehensive immigration reform bill being prepared that is supposed to be introduced by Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, and the President’s and Congressional leadership’s frigid reaction to a decent bill introduced by Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Chicago.

Yet our fast is not targeting Congress to pass immigration reform; we are directly targeting President Obama and his administration for their policies and practices of promoting separation of immigrant families. There are other efforts doing this as well – the Trail of Dreams, our four brave friends from Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER) in Florida on their walk from Miami to Washington, DC, and the National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON) and groups in Maricopa County, Arizona, who are organizing a march on January 16 targeting the Obama administration’s renewal of its 287g agreement with vile racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio. We are doing this, as we have explained elsewhere, because our communities cannot wait. We need an end to the nightmare of early morning raids on homes, police and jails acting as immigration agents, families being ripped apart now. The Obama administration constantly is making concessions to the right, and getting nothing from it. President Obama needs to show immigrants and the immigrant rights movement an act of good faith.

The fast has also gained the support and solidarity from the mainstream immigrant rights movement that has been working so hard to get comprehensive immigration reform passed. The Center for Community Change and Reform Immigration for America have put up a toll-free number for our supporters to call today to contact Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, to urge her to meet with the fasters. We are very grateful for this act of solidarity.

Third, publicity. Our small communications team has done a great job, but the results in the traditional media have been disappointing. In Miami, there has been very brief coverage on Spanish-language TV, coverage by one English-language TV station, and scant mention so far in the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, although we are expecting something in the Herald on Saturday. Can you imagine this happening if we were on a fast for democracy in Cuba or Venezuela? The more things change in Miami, the more they stay the same. The fast was covered in a great column by Albor Ruiz in the NY Daily News yesterday, along with the unjust detention of Jean Montrevil. We are expecting a comprehensive article in El Sentinel, the (Ft. Lauderdale) Sun-Sentinel’s Spanish-language weekly, tomorrow as well.

The social media coverage has been better, although I’m ill-equipped as a 20th Century man to be able to evaluate this. I’m told we’ve blown up on Twitter; I hope that’s right.

Finally, the political system: Yesterday we received our first visit from an elected official, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Katy Sorenson. She committed to sponsor a county resolution to support our cause. We are waiting for a response from our congressman, Mario Diaz-Balart, a conservative, pro-immigrant Republican, to our request that he visit us and support our cause. We have received no response as yet from our letters to Secretary Napolitano or to President Obama.

On balance, we have a long way to go to move the system, and a short time to do it. So far our health is stable, but we are weaker. We are moved by the support we have received, other actions that the fast has spurred, and believe that it augurs a move to grassroots action by the immigrant rights movement for change now, and calling the President to account.

Let’s leave the discussion of using this tactic of a long-term fast at this time to a later date. The situation moved us to undertake drastic action. Let’s pull together and win. Our communities and thousands of families around the country merit this fight.

Which brings me to a call to action. We have two telephone calls we need you to make TODAY. The first is to Janet Napolitano at 866-587-3023. We want her to be inundated with calls asking her to meet with the fasters and stop the separation of families. Second, call the Miami office of Representative Mario Diaz-Balart at 305-225-6866. Tell him to meet with the fasters and contact Janet Napolitano to request that she meet with the fasters.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Our Letter to President Obama

January 6, 2010
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington , DC 20500

Mr. President,

We know that your time is very valuable and it is not our objective to add to your already busy agenda. However, the situation in which immigrants live and the hurt that the people we represent are enduring has forced us to take drastic action. On January 1st, 2010, while the country celebrated the arrival of a New Year, we, the undersigned, started the Fast for Our Families. Five individuals, some of whom are directly affected by deportation, entered St. Ann’s Catholic Mission in Naranja, Florida (in south Miami-Dade County) and vowed to consume only liquids until you hear the voices of American families that have been torn apart by the deportation system. We ask you for two things:
1. That you act in your Executive Authority to suspend the deportation of immigrants with American families until Congress fixes our broken immigration system.

2. That you send your Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, to South Florida to meet with us, the fasters, to hear from us first-hand about the conditions that moved us to fast.
In the meantime, we will continue our fast indefinitely. We are asking all those of conscience, especially those that are losing a friend or family member to the broken immigration system, to join us in the Fast for Our Families.

Mr. President, we understand the risks we confront and we will not deny the fact that we are scared, but we cannot just sit and wait for Immigration Reform. Every day that goes by, dozens of families are destroyed. Every day that passes, hundreds of children are separated from their parents and thousands of young students are in detention instead of in college. We know you have good intentions and we are grateful, but, Mr. President, please put yourself in our shoes and just imagine for a minute what it would be like to be separated from your beautiful daughters just because you were born in a different latitude. Attached is the letter that we sent to your Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, as well as our ideas for stopping the separation of our families. We hope to hear from you soon. You may reach us by contacting Maria Rodriguez at the Florida Immigrant Coalition at (305) 322-6705 or by email at Thank you for your time.

Wilfredo Mendoza and the rest of the Fast for Our Families

Cc: Secretary Janet Napolitano; Congresspersons Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart, Kendrick Meek, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; Senators Bill Nelson and George
LeMieux; Governor Charlie Crist; Archbishop John Clement Favalora; and Mayor Carlos Alvarez, Miami-Dade County.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Immigrant Rights Movement Escalates! Jean Montrevil Joins Fast for Our Families! 8 NY Clergy Arrested!

For Immediate Release: January 5, 2010

Contact: Subhash Kateel (Fast For Families/Miami) 347-524-3374
Juan Carlos Ruiz (New Sanctuary Coalition/New York) 347-563-3483
Janis Roshuevel (Families For Freedom/New York) 917-526-1136

Immigrant Rights Movement Escalates!
Detained Haitian Immigrant Leader Jean Montrevil Joins Fast for Our Families as 8 NY Clergy Arrested Fighting Separation of Families

New York, NY/Miami, Fl – Jean Montrevil, a NYC immigrant rights activist and father of four announced yesterday that he was officially joining in solidarity with the Fast for Our Families, a group of 5 community members in South Florida who took their last meal on New Year’s Eve. The Fast for Our Families and Montrevil are both asking the Obama Administration to stop separating immigrants from their American families. In support of all immigrant families facing separation, 8 clergy were arrested at a protest outside of New York’s Varick Street Detention Center while protesting Montrevil’s detention.

Two days before New Year’s 2010, Homeland Security shocked New Yorkers when the agency detained community leader Jean Montrevil. On New Years Day, five individuals, some affected directly by deportation, similarly shocked many around the country by entering St. Ann’s Catholic Mission in Naranja, Florida (a suburb of Miami) and announcing that they would consume only liquids “until President Obama hears the voices of families separated by deportation.” According to Faster Jonathan Fried, the grandson of Jewish immigrants.

“The Fasters in Miami are fighting to keep families together, my husband and me are fighting to keep families together, so we will fight together!” exclaimed Jani Montrevil, Jean’s wife, US Citizen and mother of his US-born children. Fried, who has been fasting at the church since Friday was excited to hear the news. “It is great to know that this movement to keep our families together is spreading across the country,” he said.

More are expected to join the Fast for Our Families this week. Solidarity actions are being planned in Texas and are ongoing in New Hampshire. Meanwhile prominent clergy and elected leaders are calling on the feds to return Montrevil to his wife Jani, an African-American school teacher, and his four US-born children.

On her arrest today, the Rev. Donna Schaper of Judson Memorial Church, where Montrevil worships, stated: “I am being arrested because it is a moral outrage that our government would do this to such a great man and father (Montrevil). And these immigration laws that destroy families contradict the values we should uphold as a society. They need to change now.”


Monday, January 4, 2010


Excerpt from an email sent by Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director of Florida Immigrant Coalition:

Below is a statement from one of the fasters, many of you know him, a thoughtful person, grandson of Jewish immigrants, highly respected for his integrity, who has more than 35 years in the social justice and labor movements. Jon, who is over 50 years old, explains why he took on this life-threatening fast after growing weary of the daily, desperate calls of the members of his organization, We Count!

“My name is Jonathan Fried, and I am participating in Fast for Our Families. I am writing this in the evening of Day 2 of the fast. Five of us are fasting indefinitely, as long as it takes; our target is President Obama and our goal is to get him to use the legal authority he has, now, without Congress, to suspend the detention and deportation of immigrants with American families, those who have US citizen children and/or spouses. This is a message to my brothers and sisters in struggle in the immigrant rights movement, and with a special shout out to the members of the National Day Laborers Organizing Network around the country and of the Florida Immigrant Coalition around the state. Thanks to those of you who have sent messages of support. And I know that not everyone knows about the Fast yet, or understands what we are doing.

This decision to fast was not taken lightly. I was tired of getting phone calls from a mother, a father, a brother, a sister saying that their loved ones, their family, was taken away by ICE. Having no response to the question of what to do with their kids. I felt we had two options when it kept on happening. Try to help whatever we could, but accept that ICE was going to continue breaking apart families, one by one or develop a community response and fight back. To be clear, this tactic was not initiated by me, but by our members. I felt, however, that my participation, as an organizer and leader in the community, would strengthen it by bringing to bear the weight of my relationships. Putting my body on the line along with the others, in order to maximize the reach we could have.

For a number of years the noose has been tightening around the neck of immigrant communities. Yet never have things been worse than under the Obama Administration. He is escalating and systematizing the policies of attrition followed under the previous administration, trying to make life so miserable for immigrants that they leave. Increasing local law enforcement’s role in the deportation system; continuing 287g, including with vile racist sheriffs like Joe Arpaio, and expanding Secure Communities, under which persons are deported for the crime of being poor, brown and undocumented, all under the false guise of combating crime; increasing the rate of detentions and deportations of immigrants, using a vast system of government and private prisons, and even secret sub-offices; violent early morning raids on homes; worst of all, is the separating parents from their children.

I understand the political calculation: Show we’re tough on immigrants, and prove to the public that the administration is deserving of comprehensive immigration reform. First, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to get us there. Second, if it does, this strategy does guarantee that it will get us a mean-spirited, punitive immigration reform that will exclude thousands of undocumented persons and ensure further institutionalization of a repressive system that takes away all our rights.

Most urgently, the cost is too high. Now. It’s too painful. It’s too horrific. My friends and neighbors shouldn’t be collateral damage in a political scheme. Parents and youth ripped from their families is not an acceptable cost. Thousands of people marked and tracked with electronic shackles, living in fear of being taken away from their loved ones every time they report to ICE or its private contractors, is not an acceptable cost. Young people being deported to homelands they hardly remember is not an acceptable cost.

It is time to say to President Obama: This is on your watch.

This is our response – the fasters, the organizations involved in the Fast. Tomorrow day laborers will be joining us in a solidarity fast. Solidarity fasts are under way in New York and New Hampshire, and others will be occurring here in the coming days. Four young people are walking from Miami to Washington, DC to call for a stop to the separation of families and suspension of deportation of DREAMers in the Trail of DREAMs. Our compañer@s in Maricopa County and NDLON are organizing a demonstration on January 16 against Arpaio and the administration’s continued collaboration with him and his racist attacks on immigrants.

We are asking for solidarity fasts. This is the time. Let’s light a spark in this movement. Enough is enough!”

Jonathan Fried
Fast for Our Families

Jonathan Fried, grandson of Jewish immigrants, is originally from Swampscott, MA, and graduated from Friends World College (now Long Island University). He has lived in the former Yugoslavia and Guatemala and speaks Spanish fluently. For the last 35 years, 25 of them in South Florida, Jon has worked and participated in solidarity, community, immigrant and labor struggles with diverse organizations including the American Friends Service Committee, the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute, UNITE/SEIU, the Center for Labor Studies at Florida International University, Florida Foster Care Review Project, Human Services Coalition and We Care. He is currently the founding Executive Director of WeCount!, a grassroots membership organization, with centers in Homestead and Cutler Bay, Florida, that fights for immigrant, worker and youth rights.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Why Jenny Aguilar is fasting for our families:

Why Jenny Aguilar is fasting for our families:

I am from Honduras and have lived in the US for 18 years. This country has given me an opportunity to work and reach my goals. I began working as a truck driver and started my own trucking company. I was able to build a life for myself and my three children, who were born in this country. But what one has built over many years of sacrifice and hard work can disappear in a moment. This is what happened to me because of Immigration. I was deported to Honduras in 2005 when my husband, with whom I was getting divorced, called the authorities. I had to come back, because my children were here, and I am the only one supporting them. So I returned, walking through the desert. In September of this year, after I made a domestic violence report to the police about my husband, ICE came to my house. They put me on an electronic bracelet to monitor me; I have to report weekly, and am facing possible deportation. I am fasting because of all the injustice and damage to families that Immigration is causing. I want to be free and have a different life for my children.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ayuno por las familias

Hola. Mi nombre es Wilfredo Mendoza. Se que se preguntaran porque estoy haciendo esta huelga de hambre. Naci y me crie en Camuy, un pequeno pintoresco pueblito al norte de esa preciosa isla llamada Puerto Rico. Alli mis maestros me ensenaron que a mi islita llegaban barcos repletos, de como ellos los llamaban, "negros esclavos",procedentes de Africa y de inmediato los marcaban con un hierro caliente. Pero que eso era cosa del pasado pues Abraham lincoln ya habia liberado los esclavos. Hasta ahi todo iba bien pero me mude hacia los Estados Unidos y ahora me doy cuenta que todo era una mentira. Resulta que conosco personas que se le roba su salario. Conosco personas que NO son marcados con un hierro candente pero aun en estos dias SON MARCADOS EN SU ALMA, pues son obligadas a caminar por las calles de este pais con un grillete electronico en su tobillo. Soy ciudadano americano de nacimiento pero no entiendo esta demogracia. No entiendo como es posible que enviemos a nuestros jovenes al otro lado del mundo a dar sus preciosas vidas para liberar un pueblo mientras pisoteamos a otro aqui en nuestro propio suelo.

Day 2 of Fast has begun

Day 2 of the Fast for Our Families has begun. There are five of us fasters here on this chilly morning at St. Ann Mission in Naranja, Florida, near Homestead. We are sleeping in the courtyard outside the church, and received the generous loan of a tent from friends to keep us warm and protected from the rain and chilly wind of the cold front that passed through South Florida.

Our compas from the Trail of Dreams, four courageous young people, set off from Miami on their trek by foot to Washington, DC yesterday. We had a joint press conference in Miami to kick off both actions. Jenny Aguilar and Wilfredo Mendoza, two of the fasters, represented us. Jenny is a valient woman who is on an electronic ankle bracelet, being tracked by ICE, fighting to stay with her three US citizen minor children. Wilfredo, from Puerto Rico, is a member of the Miami Workers Center.

We had some good local press in Miami. Our spirits are lifted by visits of people who come to sit with us, some of them to pray with us. We will continue this fast with the goal of getting President Obama to use the authority he has to stop tearing families apart.

Jonathan Fried, faster

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Fast for Our Families is starting today...and

Hey folks,

So the Fast is starting today and we already have two actions in solidarity in New York and New Hampshire!!! Last night, some of the folks taking the fast had their last meal with the students going on the Trail of DREAMS. We are truly one big family fighting for our communities. More on that later. We are anxious, nervous, and hungry for justice for our families and communities. Keep you posted soon.

Info about solidarity actions:
New Hampshire-for more info, visit

I am a 60 year old mother and grandmother whose family came here as immigrants. From 1632 into the 1800s they came to this land to live their lives in a free and just society. They built towns and cities in Massachusetts, helped to forge a new government and dedicated their lives to preserving a dream of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness for themselves and for all who lived after them in the United States of America.

I am one of their descendants for whom that dream has been destroyed through the actions of the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The day before Thanksgiving, 2008, a loving father, close friend and valued member of our community was taken from us and thrown into immigration detention. He remains there to this day, doing hard time, but having committed no crime, as our government decides if they will deport him to Eastern Europe, thus removing him forever from his children's and from all of our lives. My efforts to free him and bring him home to his citizen children have so far done nothing more than torture me emotionally and endanger me financially. I have been thrown into an American nightmare which I did not know could exist in this country and from which there seems to be no awakening.

I have learned through the struggles of this last year that I am not alone. Each year hundreds of thousands of immigrants and a million or more United States citizens are subjected to the brutal torture that is our current immigration system. And so I will fast in solidarity with those taking part in the Fast for Our Families. I will not eat any solid food begin January 1st and continue tentatively through January 7th . . . I pray that by that time the rule of human rights will have begun to overturn the rule of brute force and progress will have been made toward preserving the sanctity of our families and protecting the needs and safety of our children. My heart, my support and my prayers are with the members of Fast for Our Families in South Florida for whom these intolerable circumstances have forced them to take such extreme measures. May your message finally be heard and understood.

Deborah Sherman de Santos


New York-for more info visit
12pm January 1st 2010
Juan Carlos Ruiz, 347-563-3483 (English and Spanish)
Angad Bhalla, 646-637-5609 (English, Hindi and French)

Kids to Immigration: 2010 New Years Resolution -STOP TAKING OUR PARENTS AWAY

Children of detained immigrant leader Jean Montrevil demand his release and
support youth from across the country demanding an end to deportations

WHAT: On December 30th, ICE detained for deportation to Haiti Jean
Montrevil a green card holding immigrant since 1986, father of four U.S.
citizen children and renowned immigrant rights activist. In solidarity
with immigrant youth in Florida who are ringing in the new year by walking
to DC and others embarking on an indefinite fast, Jean’s children will
demand their father is released and that the laws change so families are
no longer torn apart. Clergy and community members will join the youth’s
cries through vows of fasting and other forms of resistance until the
children’s demands are met.

WHO: Jani Montrevil (wife of detained immigrant leader Jean Montrevil)
Janiah Montrevil (Jean Montrevil’s 11-year-old daughter)
50 Additional children of affected immigrants and concerned community
Rev. Robert B. Coleman, Chief Program Minister, The Riverside Church
Rev. Giovanny Sanchez, Senior Minister, Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit

WHEN: Friday, January 1st, at 12pm

WHERE: Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012
We'll keep you posted with more info...keep us all in your thoughts