This issue’s cover artist, Rommy Torrico, is the graphics and new media director for the Collier County Neighborhood Stories Project (CCNSP), based in southwest Florida. Torrico is a queer, undocumented artist born in Chile. She and her sister cofounded CCNSP in 2011. Collier County has been a particular focus of the 287(g) immigration-enforcement program, which gives local police the power to enforce immigration law. In 2012, about 50 Florida-based organizations signed a letter to politicians in the state, demanding an end to 287(g).
They wrote that it created “fear and a marked mistrust of police among both documented and undocumented individuals in the Latino community.” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement scaled back the program in 2013—but at the same time escalated the “Secure Communities” program, in which the fingerprints of people arrested by police are checked against a federal database. Suspected immigration violators are then detained for investigation by federal authorities.The Sun Sentinel newspaper reported in February 2014 that “a program intended to remove illegal immigrants who are felons and terrorists has resulted in nearly 6,000 people with no known criminal records being deported from Florida over the past five years. CCNSP, which is a grassroots effort run by volunteers, responds to the challenges and abuses faced by immigrants in southwest Florida. It attempts to “engage and empower immigrant community members to enter in dialogue about the police abuses they have experienced and witnessed in their daily lives.” The project’s volunteers believe that through storytelling, “people empower themselves and their peers to move forward in creating tangible change to local practices that result in abuses.” CCNSP also arranges and coordinates visits by volunteers to immigrant detention centers and helps undocumented youth in southwest Florida navigate the transition from high school to higher education and work.