The bike delivery at Apopka’s Farm Worker Association of Florida office last October17th was very interesting and very worthwhile. We arrived early and set up chairs and snacks. When the workers arrived, we all sat around in a circle and introduced ourselves. Some people had never been to the Association before so I felt good about our event helping to bring new people out from the community. After the initial introductions, I presented a short presentation about Secure Communities or S-COMM.
S-COMM is a partnership program between local law enforcement and Homeland Security. It basically provides local law enforcement with access to a Homeland Security data base, where they can identify if an individual is deportable or not.
S-COMM provides local law enforcement with incentives to detain and deport people as well as new technology and protocol to do so. Supporters of S-COMM claim that the program focuses on the deportation of dangerous criminals, but in reality its focusing on facilitating the deportation of hard working immigrants who are victims of our broken immigration system. For more information about S-COMM watch this video by PBS or read this Fact Sheet by the American Immigration Council.
In communities with immigrants of color, like Apopka, it is often the case that people will be pulled over while driving and taken to jail if they cannot provide a valid driver’s license (in 2002 Florida stopped issuing driver licenses to undocumented immigrants). Deportation proceedings may follow shortly after these instances.
By providing immigrant farm workers with bikes, we hope to lower the risk of deportation for hard working family oriented people who have transportation needs just like anyone, but are often subject to racial profiling.
This was the first time I have been able to share information about the criminalization of immigrants with the people who are directly affected by it. I was thankful for the opportunity and I believe that the workers were thankful as well. Many people asked questions and everyone listened attentively.
It is one thing to give someone a bike as a philanthropic deed. Yes, it does feel good to give a person something that they appreciate and are thankful for. However philanthropic deeds are not going to dismantle the systems of oppression that workers are facing. It is our aim to make these bike deliveries a space for education and a space for organizing against the forces of oppression in this country. With this delivery I believe we made a good effort and I look forward to more and more opportunities like this.
I’d like to extend a special thanks to our Vice President Antonio and to his family, who helped transport the 25 bikes for the delivery. Without their help we could not have made this happen. Thanks also to everyone from YAYA and the Farm Worker Association for collaborating with us on this project. I look forward to working with everyone again.
– Cole Lee
(Photos courtesy of Juan Barredo)