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Mission

The Immigration Justice Committee (IJC) seeks to promote compassion, justice, and dignity for immigrants in Charlotte County and the surrounding areas, and increase public awareness of immigration issues and crises.

Call to Action – Stop Funding For-Profit Immigration Detention Centers

These facilities are not compelled to follow government safety and health regulations and many dirty, overcrowded and medically unsafe facilities have been built and are being managed. Recently, Homeland Security reported 75% of detained immigrants are held in for-profit centers and 175% more grievances are filed from these facilities.

migrants at a US detention center
A US migrant detention center in McAllen, Texas on June 10, 2019. Photo: US Office of the Inspector General

Two of the largest companies that run for-profit detention centers are the GEO Group and CoreCivic.  You might be surprised to know that you own stock in these companies.

The two largest portfolio management groups that buy these jailers’ stocks are the Vanguard and the Blackrock group (iShares is a Blackrock subsidiary). We are asking everyone who holds stock either directly in these two companies (GEO and CoreCivic) or in these two management funds (Vanguard and Blackrock/iShares) to withdraw their investments and align their morals with their money.  In addition, hundreds of organizations include these two in their investment portfolios. Check directly on the NYSE to see if your money is a part of these institutional holdings.

https://www.nasdaq.com/market-activity/stocks/geo/institutional-holdings

https://www.nasdaq.com/market-activity/stocks/cxw/institutional-holdings

WRITE DIRECTLY TO THE FOLKS IN CHARGE –

Activities

We actively forge alliances with organizations outside the UUFCC to learn and to broaden our scope. We work closely with the Hispanic American Citizens Council of Charlotte County, the Democratic Hispanic Caucus, Englewood Indivisible, and Indivisible Action Southwest Florida as well as others.

A group of us have been trained to assist people who want to become US citizens,. In addition, we have trained tutors to assist those interested in learning English.

In our efforts to increase public awareness, we have hosted numerous debates and film series. Earlier in the year, we worked with Port Charlotte High School and hosted a debate on immigration issues led by students from the Model UN Club.  Recently, we promoted a town hall meeting with Allen Ellison, District 17 candidate for US House of Representatives who specifically addressed immigration justice issues.

Our recent film series was a virtual event – people watched Immigration Nation, a 6-part documentary on Netflix and then we met on Zoom to discuss. As a result we call investors of for-profit detention centers to withdraw their funding. A similar action of activists was successful in stopping funding from many banks.

We recently hosted a viewing of The Condor and the Eagle, a documentary about climate justice and how indigenous peoples throughout the Americas are protecting the land and the water for all of us/with all of us.

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Why Immigration Justice?

Myrna Charry, member of UUFCC and IJC says this about why she fights for justice:

Towards the end of 2017 and in response to the national immigration crisis, I helped birth the UUFCC Immigration Justice Committee. It was my way of re-dedicating myself to our Unitarian Universalist principles – three in particular: the first:  The inherent worth and dignity of every person; the second: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations; and the sixth: The goal of a world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. 

At that time, I was becoming more and more horrified by my government’s treatment of immigrants from South and Central America whose only crime was wanting a better life for themselves and their children. I visited the Homestead children’s facility where my government housed children who had been forcibly separated from their parents. The conditions there paralleled the concentration camps of the 1940s and I could not help but think of how my people were rounded up and sent in crowded cattle cars to die by the millions in such camps.  Angry that no one spoke up 70 years ago, I vowed not to be silent and welcomed the opportunity to actively engage in the work of immigration justice. I say today that  those escaping homelands of terror, starvation, and indignities also have inherent worth and dignity; they also are entitled to justice and compassion, and they also deserve to live in a peaceful and just world.