IMMIGRANT RIGHTS CAMPAIGNS
In collaboration with impacted communities and allies, we engage in immigrant rights campaigns with the goal of abolishing immigrant detention and deportation.
In June 2020, Jefferson Torresdale Hospital attempted to deport A.V., a member of the Philadelphia community, after he suffered catastrophic brain injuries as a pedestrian in a motorcycle accident a month before. His family reached out to Free Migration Project, and we quickly mobilized community members, advocates, medical students and even city council members to stop the deportation. Once the deportation was successfully halted, A.V. 's family asked FMP staff to continue organizing against this awful practice, because they “hope no one else has to go through something like this again.”
Free Migration Project continues to lead the coalition that formed in regular meetings to organize against medical deportations. We have produced a comprehensive report about medical deportation, launched a research project to better understand people’s knowledge about medicals deportations and created an End Medical Deportation hotline. We have also been laying the groundwork to engage Philadelphia City Council in establishing local policies that protect immigrants in medical deportation cases. We hope that this campaign brings together many sectors of the community to put a stop to this heinous practice. Hospitals should not be deporting immigrants, and immigrants should not have to fear deportation when they are seeking medical treatment.
After a hard-fought, eight-year campaign to permanently shut down the immigrant prison in Berks County, we did it! On November 30, 2022 it was announced that the Biden administration will be canceling the ICE contract with Berks County effective January 31, 2023. This victory shows that when we fight together to demand freedom, nothing is impossible. For decades, the U.S. government has sent people seeking safety - including toddlers and infants - to Berks. The government’s decision to close the prison is the result of years of organizing led by community members impacted by ICE raids and jails, including parents who were incarcerated at Berks with their children. As a core member of the Shut Down Berks Coalition we celebrate this victory while continuing to fight so that everyone who is currently incarcerated at Berks walks free and the site is never used as a prison again.
In 2018 ICE targeted a small number of other outspoken immigrant leaders living in sanctuary churches with exorbitant civil fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Free Migration Project coordinated with other organizations and the targeted leaders to sue ICE for violating their constitutional rights. In April of 2021, after sustained litigation and advocacy, ICE rescinded its policy of issuing retaliatory civil fines against immigrant leaders. In September 2022, a federal judge ordered ICE to turn over additional records it had likely withheld about the civil fines program. Under a settlement made public June 22, 2023, the targeted leaders were granted relief.
National Sanctuary Collective - Colectivo Santuario
The National Sanctuary Collective, also called Colectivo Santuario, is made up of immigrant leaders who had taken refuge in sanctuary churches, immigrant organizers, attorneys, and allies in faith communities spanning multiple states—Utah, Colorado, Texas, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Massachusetts, among others. Members of the Colectivo work to build collective strategies for liberation for all people living in sanctuary in the U.S.
Free Migration Project staff were active participants in the organizing efforts of the Collective. In the spring of 2021, with the announcement of new ICE enforcement guidelines and after ardent organizing efforts, most of the Sanctuary Leaders were able to leave the churches where they had been living. Some leaders had lived in churches, many with their children, for years. Free Migration Project is deeply honored to have supported these families through their sanctuary fights, and we are happy they were able to safely leave their sanctuary churches!