Archive for July, 2012

“Viewpoint” Debate: Vote No on Amendment 8

Baylor Johnson
Online Advocacy Coordinator, ACLU of Florida

With November’s election fast approaching, more and more Floridians are becoming aware of the potential dangers presented by the misleading-titled “Religious Freedom Amendment” on the ballot, proposed Amendment 8, which would repeal a century-old protection in the Florida religion on government involvement in religious activities.

This week “Viewpoint,” WPBT’s show on religion and public affairs, featured a debate with Rev. Canon Wesley Northrup, dean of the Honors College at Florida International University, and former State Senator Dan Gelber arguing against the Amendment, and the Rev. Thomas Wenski of the Archdiocese of Miami and Mike Hill of Citizens for Religious Freedom and Non-Discrimination arguing in its favor.

The debate addresses some of the myths surrounding the intention of the Amendment (including that it seeks to end anti-Catholic bias, a myth which we issued a report last year dispelling), and reveals the dangers to religious liberty which are presented by having government spend taxpayer dollars on religious activities.

Watch the video of the full debate.

ACLU and Florida Immigrant Coalition host statewide Immigration Enforcement Summit – June 23, 2012 – University of Central Florida, Orlando

By Ron Bilbao, Advocacy Coordinator/Legislative Associate. ACLU of Florida.

Over 100 participants gathered at the University of Central Florida’s School of Business Administration on Saturday, June 23rd to get down to business on how to deal with the real problem with immigration in Florida these days – enforcement. On the eve of the Supreme Court’s decision on Arizona’s infamous SB 1070 law, advocates from seventeen different counties throughout Florida joined together to prepare for the worst. Despite Florida not being one of the six states with Arizona-style anti-immigrant laws in place, all sixty-seven counties have agreements with the federal government to implement the nefarious “Secure Communities” program which, among other things, gives local police authority to check the immigration status of anyone who is detained for any offense. The result has been increased mistrust between communities of color and local police, in many cases, crimes going unreported for fear of retribution and potential deportation leading to the separation of families and a constant fear throughout Hispanic neighborhoods. We don’t need a Florida-style SB 1070 law, we are already feeling the terrorizing effects of its discriminatory enforcement.

The summit brought together national and local speakers to discuss the impact of the Supreme Court decision on Florida, how to respond, and most importantly how to fight back against enforcement right now in our local communities. Andre Segura, staff attorney at the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project in New York kicked off the day with a keynote discussing the questions before the Court in Arizona v. United States to be decided the following Monday, and how that ruling could affect Florida now and in the near future. An all-star panel followed the keynote where national and regional leaders discussed how they are fighting back against racial profiling and enforcement practices in their respective areas. Panelists included Sian ófaoláin of Rights Working Group that is organizing states to pass anti-racial profiling legislation; Héctor Cruz from WeCount! who is leading a campaign to take local control over ICE holds; Mayron Payes of the Center for Community Change describing his work on family commissions; and Paola Everett of the ACLU of Florida’s Tampa office detailing their documentation and data-collecting study on racial profiling in three Florida counties. The panel was moderated by Dr. Joyce Hamilton-Henry, director of the mid-Florida regional office of the ACLU of Florida.

A series of workshops followed which aimed at training participants in the details of fighting back against enforcement locally. From Know Your Rights 101, to Documenting Racial Profiling, to Legal Defense and Rapid Response, to Voter Engagement. The trainings were thorough and led by experts in the field. After the workshops, participants broke into groups by regions and set specific goals by which to implement the work they trained for in the workshops. The summit closed with a group report-back and some inspiring words from Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition and Board Member of the ACLU of Florida.

Watch a video of the summit: here

See photos from the summit: here 

Watch media response to the summit: WESH and FOX

Download materials from the summit: http://bit.ly/materialsforsummit



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