August All Members Meeting: what we did on our summer vacation

On August 25, an enthusiastic group gathered at Sports Basement Berkeley for the Indivisible East Bay All Members Meeting, eager to hear about election activism, voting security, and impeachment – and to do some hands-on activism.

But first: we got our new beautiful rainbow logo t-shirts (union made of course), and a couple of IEB members displayed their handmade Blue Wave hats! 

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Want to wear your very own IEB logo rainbow shirt, and perhaps make a donation to benefit IEB? Get them while they last at IEB events!

On to the amazing presentations: 

Leanne Karns from Swing Left East Bay talked about the organization’s well-thought-out electoral strategy, including great information (and cool graphics!) about where in the country an electoral win would make the most difference, and why they choose canvassing as the most effective strategy. 

Leanne Karns of Swing Left East Bay, at 082519 AMM
Leanne Karns, Swing Left East Bay

Holly Scheider, representing our allies at East Bay Activist Alliance, told us about the importance of the upcoming Virginia election. We’re just a few seats away from being able to flip both of the state’s legislative houses to blue in November, and EBAA is conducting a phonebanking campaign to remind people to register to vote. Why is it so important to get involved in a state election on the other side of the country, you may wonder? Gerrymandering in Virginia, like in much of the country, has been an enormous problem – it isn’t an exaggeration to say it’s one of the great voting rights challenges. With the upcoming 2020 census, it’s absolutely imperative to have a Democratic state legislature to stop Republican gerrymandering intended to permanently lock up districts and nullify blue votes. 

IEB member Larry gave a brief but info-full update on impeachment: what’s happening in DC, what activists are doing and how you can join in, including calling your Member of Congress and the House Judiciary Committee and spreading the word by talking about impeachment and helping us find venues to present our information and discussion session. And that’s just the short summary: read much more in our article.

IEB member Ion gave a great briefing on election security issues and the need to provide funding for our state and local governments to defend the foundation of our democracy. Read his article for lots of great info about the webinar presented by several major pro-democracy organizations, and find actions you can take to ensure we get that funding.

Ion's presentation about election security, AMM 082519
Ion’s presentation about election security

IEB member Joaninha presented an astonishing wealth of options for people looking for something easy to do right here in the East Bay: from postcard parties (with popcorn!) to chocolate and dim sum fundraisers and more. Hmm, is there a theme? Of course there is: go out and do something!

Joaninha & Paula presentation about postcarding and more, AMM 082519
Joaninha & Paula: postcarding & more

And then – we phonebanked! Veteran phonebankers got right to it and Holly and other experienced folks trained the newbies, and we called 228 voters in Virginia Beach! Out of those calls, four people said they would support the Democratic candidates, Alex Askew and Cheryl Turpin. And that’s why phonebanking is worthwhile. 

Phonebanking led by East Bay Activist Alliance, at 082519 AMM
Phonebanking led by East Bay Activist Alliance

Couldn’t make it to the AMM? Allergic to meetings? Join us online where we do our planning and organizing— ask  info@indivisibleeb.org for an invite.

Emoluments, schmoluments, why not have the G7 meet at a Trump resort?

… um, because Article I, section 9, clause 8 of the Constitution says:

[N]o Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

What’s an emolument, anyway? It’s defined as: “(1) the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites (2) archaic advantage.” As BusinessInsider.com succinctly puts it: “The foreign-emoluments clause of the Constitution bars public officials from receiving gifts or cash from foreign or state governments without congressional approval. 

… Like, for instance, the president’s Doral Resort taking in money from foreign governments if the G7 Summit is held there, as Donald “Never Seen an Emolument I Didn’t Like” Trump has said it will be. The House Judiciary Committee seems to have some questions as well – they announced August 28 that they’re opening an investigation into the plan. Stay tuned!

What you can do:

Deadline: ASAP. Representative Barbara Lee is on the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, which has jurisdiction over (among other things) the State Department. Ask her to insist on a rider to appropriations for the State Department that would ban the use of funds for any clear violation of the emoluments clause. 

What to say:

My name is ____________, my zip code is _____________, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling Representative Lee in her capacity as a member of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. I’m disgusted that Trump is using his office to make money from his resorts, and having the G7 meet at the Doral would be immoral as well as unconstitutional. Please insist on a rider to appropriations for the State Department that would ban the use of funds for any clear violation of the emoluments clause. 

Rep. Barbara Lee: (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661 • email (if you are her constituent, zip code required)

Tell our Senators: Keep ICE’s hands out of the cookie jar

UPDATED September 5, 2019

Under the US Constitution and federal law, it’s the responsibility of Congress and the President to create a federal budget and spending bills. The process is complex, but one thing is clear: federal agencies shouldn’t be able to decide, on their own, how federal funds get spent, or to take money that’s been allocated for another purpose. And yet, that’s exactly what has been going on – Department of Homeland Security is essentially taking hundreds of millions of dollars from federal agencies like FEMA and giving it to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to use for Trump’s racist, deadly immigration agenda.  They deceptively call it “reprogramming and transfer authority,” but we call it sleight of hand. Or theft. Relatedly, on September 4 it was revealed that states from Virginia to Arizona will lose millions in the administration’s plan to divert $3.6 BILLION from Pentagon-funded military construction projects to build a wall along the border.

In the current budget process, the House of Representatives has passed a good DHS Appropriations bill, which sets overall spending limits by the agency. The House bill (1) puts some limitations on how ICE/Customs and Border Protection can spend its money, and (2) rescinds the DHS Secretary’s ability to move money from any part of DHS (such as FEMA) to CBP and ICE Enforcement and Removal. 

Now it’s the Senate’s turn. Senators Feinstein and Harris both signed a letter to the Senate Committee on Appropriations supporting reduced funding for the administration’s immigration and detention agenda, and opposing ICE’s reprogramming and transfer authority. But they need to hear from us, because there will be pressure for the Senate to come up with a bipartisan bill. Tell our Senators you want reduced funding for ICE and CBP, and an end to ICE’s “reprogramming and transfer” authority. Also: Indivisible’s “Defund Hate” week of action is September 9-13, and we have lots going on: check out our article and plan to join us and our partners for crafting, calling, rallying, and more!

Read on for a call script and contact info; and below that, for more information and resources.

What to do:

1. Contact our Senators, tell them you want reduced funding for ICE and CBP, and an end to ICE’s “reprogramming and transfer” authority.

What to say:

My name is _________, my zip code is _________, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank the Senator for opposing the administration’s horrible immigration agenda, and also opposing ICE’s reprogramming and transfer authority. I hope the Senator will work for a DHS appropriations bill like the one passed by the House. We need a bill with protections for immigrants and an end to using all of DHS as a slush fund for immigrant detention, deportation, and abuse.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: email (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: email (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

 

2. Check out Indivisible National’s “Defund Hate” campaign and mark your calendars for their September 9-13 Week of Action. If you text Defund Hate to 977-79, Indy National will send you the latest updates on our plan for the Week of Action, including telling you when events are registered near you. And be on the lookout for IEB and partners’ action items coming your way!

3. Spread the word! Got friends outside California? Send them this link so they can contact their Members of Congress.

 

More information: 

As if the administration’s immigration policy weren’t devastating enough in terms of the threat to life and health, last year, just as hurricane season was about to start, ICE raided $10 million from FEMA (the agency responsible for coordinating disaster response efforts). This year they’re raiding $155 million from FEMA and a total of over $270 million from agencies dealing in safety. And remember when Trump declared a national emergency so he could build his wall? That money he wanted – billions of dollars – was to be transferred from other agencies to which Congress had budgeted it. That, in a nutshell, is how “reprogramming and transfer” is happening – Congress budgets money for things that are not Trump’s immigration and detention program, and then he and DHS sneak in or bully their way in and take it anyway.

This ability to steal money that isn’t theirs lets ICE make a mockery of Congress. Congress appropriates money to the various parts of the government? Meaningless! Congress tells ICE to decrease immigrant detention to a specific level? Not happening – ICE thinks it’s above the law.

This budget cycle the Democratic House of Representatives is working to put a stop to these shenanigans with an appropriations bill for DHS that approaches the problem from several angles, such as:

  • Prohibits construction of border barriers, except with funds appropriated for that purpose.
  • Prohibits funding transfers to ICE Operations and Support for Enforcement and Removal Operations.
  • Prohibits ICE from removing sponsors of unaccompanied children based on information provided by the Office of Refugee Resettlement as part of the sponsor’s application to accept custody of the child.
  • Limits future detention facility contracts or renewals from having an indefinite period of availability. 
  • Ensures access by Members of Congress to detention facilities.

California’s Senators have spoken out in favor of curbing funding for ICE and CBP and in favor of “language limiting the DHS Secretary’s ability to transfer funds for the purpose of detaining immigrants.” While not as strong as the House version, that’s pretty good. But the appropriations process is about to heat up in the Senate, and at this point in the proceedings there will be pressure on the Senate to come up with a bipartisan bill – meaning that it’s going to take support from us to keep our Senators fighting to keep ICE’s hands off money we don’t want them to have.

Bottom line: If we don’t want the administration to keep stealing millions of dollars that we need for health and safety and other critical issues that Congress has budgeted it for, we need to act NOW.

Resources:

 

Graphic “Money” by TaxCredits.net, edited by Heidi Rand.
FEMA logo.

Call in day: Voting Rights for People on Parole

Deadline: On Monday, August 19, 2019, make a call to make California a more democratic place –

California is one of a rapidly shrinking number of states that doesn’t allow people on parole to vote. Believe it or not, it’s actually in the state Constitution. Now ACA 6, the “Free the Vote Act,” would amend the California Constitution to remove that prohibition – and it’s coming up for a vote in the State Assembly the week of August 19. Tell your Assemblymember: Vote YES on ACA 6. Read on for a short call script and contact info; and below that, more info, talking points, a great toolkit to boost this on social media, and more resources.

What to do:

1. Call your state Assemblymember and tell them to vote YES on ACA 6.

What to say:

If your Assemblymember is Rob Bonta, he’s a coauthor of the bill; you don’t have to ask him to vote on it, but you should thank him:

My name is ____________, my zip code is _____________, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Assemblymember Bonta for coauthoring ACA 6. Not allowing people on parole to vote is a form of voter suppression and it needs to end. California should leave Jim Crow behind. Many states restore the vote to people when they leave prison. We should too.

  • Rob Bonta: District: 510-286-1670; Capitol: 916-319-2018

If your Assemblymember is Buffy Wicks, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, or Bill Quirk, tell them:

My name is ____________, my zip code is _____________, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want Assemblymember _______ to vote YES on ACA 6. Not allowing people on parole to vote is a form of voter suppression and it needs to end. California should leave Jim Crow behind. Many states restore the vote to people when they leave prison. We should too.

  • Buffy Wicks: District: 510-286-1400; Capitol: 916-319-2015
  • Rebecca Bauer-Kahan: Capitol (handles legislative calls): 916-319-2016
  • Bill Quirk: Capitol: 916-319-2020; District 510-583-8818
  • Not sure who your Assemblymember is? Check here; or call 916-702-8820 and enter your zip code and you’ll be connected directly to your legislator.
  • Got California friends outside the East Bay? They can use this click-to-call page for a script and to be patched through to their Assemblymember; or they can call 916-702-8820 and enter their zip code to be connected directly to their legislator.

2. Spread it on social media

Here’s a cool social media toolkit all set up for you! Use it, pass it on, spread the word!

More info about why we need ACA 6:

Under the California Constitution and Elections Code, people on parole cannot vote. ACA 6 seeks to change that.

Parole is intended to reintegrate formerly incarcerated individuals back into the community. Nearly 50,000 Californians on parole pay taxes at the local, state, and federal levels. Allowing people to vote again after they have finished their prison sentence increases their feeling of connection to their community in a positive way. Voting “can play a major role in reducing recidivism.”

On the other hand: stripping the vote from felons comes from the Jim Crow era. It’s part of a whole fabric of voter suppression in minority and marginalized communities – restoring the vote needs to be part of destroying that fabric. Current state law allows some people on community supervision to vote, but since some individuals have been punished harshly – even jailed! – for trying in good faith to vote when they were not allowed to, some eligible voters will be deterred from going to the polls rather than take any chances. Ending disenfranchisement for people on parole would clarify voting rights for all formerly incarcerated people in California.

California is behind the times in not allowing people on parole to vote: As of 2020, in sixteen other states and the District of Columbia a person’s right to vote will be automatically restored after their release from prison, with more states considering eliminating their provisions against people on parole voting; in addition, two states (Maine and Vermont) don’t remove voting rights for people with convictions, even while they’re in prison. It’s too late for us to be a leader, but at least let’s not be the tail end of this trend toward justice.

More resources:

Photograph, “Felon voting rights” by Michael Fleshman

Counter White Supremacists’ Terrorism

Even FBI agents are finally saying it: domestic terrorism poses “a threat to the American people and our democracy.” It isn’t news that there has for years been a “resurgence in radicalization and recruitment” in right-wing extremism. It also isn’t news that this cancer has metastasized wildly since the election of the Current Occupant of the White House, who told the world that he felt there was no threat from white nationalism after the Christchurch mosque massacre – the massacre that inspired the El Paso racist massacre just days ago. For years, the government has had their priorities exactly backwards, according to some experts: 

Citing figures from the Anti-Defamation League, [Rep. Jamie] Raskin noted that from 2009-2018, far-right extremism was responsible for 73% of extremist murders, while international terrorism was responsible for 23% of terrorism deaths. “The FBI has testified the bureau allocates its resources almost exactly backwards than the problem would suggest,” Raskin said. “Devoting 80% of field agents to stopping international terrorism including Islamic extremism and only 20% to stopping domestic terrorism including far right and white supremacist extremism.”

And it gets worse: 

The Trump administration has systematically cut back on resources used to address threats from domestic extremists even as the FBI has reported a 30-40% rise in domestic terrorism cases just since October.

What you can do:

Our government needs to put its resources in the right places: not toward putting kids in cages, but toward investigating and addressing the very real problem of white supremacist violence in this country. Tell our Members of Congress:

My name is ___________, my zip code is ___________, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m worried about white supremacist violence in this country. In the most recent mass shootings by white supremacists, they published manifestos to spread their ideology. I want Senator/Representative ___________ to push for additional funding for the Countering Violent Extremism program to focus on white supremacists and their radicalization. I also hope Senator/Representative ______ will do everything possible to fight this administration’s support for racism and racist violence, including investigating political pressure on law enforcement to ignore white supremacist extremism.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

 

Bring Back the Senate for Gun Control

What a shame Congress can’t do anything to stop this country’s epidemic of mass shootings and deaths by white supremacist gun violence. Except, oh wait, they can. And they have. Or rather, they would. Except Mitch McConnell won’t let them.

The House of Representatives passed two gun control bills in February 2019: H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would require background checks for private gun sales (think online sales and gun shows); and H.R. 1112, which would extend the waiting period from the background check system before a sale can proceed, from the current three days to ten days. Normally, the bills would now go to the Senate and be referred to the appropriate committees. Instead, McConnell placed them on the Senate calendar, which sounds good but isn’t, it actually means they’re just … sitting there, while more people die.

In addition, the Senate has before it S. 42, introduced in January 2019 and cosponsored by both Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, which would prohibit a firearm transfer between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check. The bill is in the Judiciary Committee, which both of our Senators sit on – and which is chaired by Lindsey Graham, whose support for gun control is limited to talking about “red flag” laws, which allow local law enforcement officials to temporarily seize guns from people who may pose a risk to themselves or others.

Meanwhile, mass shootings go on. And on. And the Senate is in recess, with the GOP offering its usual thoughts and prayers.

Senators Feinstein and Harris have both called for the Senate to act:

The House has already passed a universal background check bill that would make it harder for dangerous people to buy guns. The Senate could return to Washington this week and vote on that bill, but Senate Republican leaders continue to say no.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, August 4, 2019 

The Bipartisan Background Checks Act passed the House in February—but it hasn’t even received a hearing in the Senate. It’s past time to take action. To Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans, I say: have some courage. Let’s vote.

Sen. Kamala Harris, August 5, 2019 

Amen, and amen.

What you can do:

1. Call Sens. Feinstein and Harris. It may not seem like they need your call since they’re already doing the right thing, but remember: the NRA will always mobilize its membership and you can be sure that our Senators are hearing loud and clear from gun control opponents. They need to hear from US!

What to say:

My name is ____________, my zip code is _________ and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Senator _________ for supporting gun control legislation. The Senator is right: the Senate needs to reconvene, now, to vote on H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112. Trump is cheering on white supremacist violence and Mitch McConnell is enabling it by refusing to let the Senate vote on these bills. Also, I hope the Senator will use her position on the Judiciary Committee to do everything possible to pass S. 42.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

2. Support these organizations:

 

Graphic: “U.S. Senate To Increase Work Days” by Mike Licht

How to Support Asylum Seekers – Locally

We’ve heard much about the pressing needs of asylum seekers in places where they cross the border into the U.S. But there are less known needs that exist elsewhere – including in our own communities.

Indivisible East Bay recently heard from Theresa Gonzales, Executive Director of Centro Legal de la Raza, and Carolina Martin Ramos, Director of Programs and Advocacy, about the organization’s work and the immigration crisis that rarely makes the headlines. According to Carolina, the situation (like all politics) is local. Many detained children separated from their parents and asylum seekers traveling with caravans may present themselves to immigration officials at the border, and are initially processed at or near the border, but they don’t stay there. After they’re released to sponsors, bond out, or are paroled into the US, they’re most likely to travel to other parts of the country to reunite with family members or sponsors. 

And Oakland – and the San Francisco Bay Area generally – are destinations for many unaccompanied children and asylum seekers. In fact, according to Carolina, they’re more likely to have family members and sponsors here than in border cities like San Diego or El Paso. 

The heavy lifting in many migrants’ immigration cases or deportation proceedings thus happens not at the border but where they settle. They need long-term legal representation and resources there – and the burden of helping them falls on local organizations in those locations. Unfortunately, these local groups have limited resources to respond to the recent arrivals’ needs – they’ve already stretched their scant budgets working with long-time resident immigrant populations facing deportation. 

As Centro Legal de la Raza also points out: Because immigration proceedings are administrative and not criminal proceedings, asylum seekers are not guaranteed legal representation or other due process safeguards. Most, in fact, don’t have legal representation; in 2017, only about 30% were represented. Being without legal representation drastically lowers an asylum seeker’s chances of success: for example, 5% of those who won relief between 2007-2012 were without an attorney. Studies find that asylum seekers are anywhere from 24% more likely to 10.5 times more likely to be successful if they have legal representation. Very few organizations are prepared to offer legal representation to asylum seekers once they arrive at their destinations.

What you can do:

Local organizations helping asylum seekers need your support!

  • Centro Legal de la Raza is the leader in removal defense in California and is in the heart of the Fruitvale District of Oakland, where many asylum seekers and unaccompanied children are arriving. 
  • ACILEP, the Alameda County Rapid Response partnership, is a partnership of Centro Legal, Alameda County Public Defender’s Office, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, Causa Justa/Just Cause, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Street Level Health Project, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, Oakland Community Organizations (OCO), and Vietnamese Community Center of the East Bay. All ACILEP organizational partners are doing critical work and responding to immigration emergencies. 
  • Stand Together Contra Costa is a rapid response, legal services, and community education project supporting CoCo County immigrant families. It offers free legal clinics to provide immigrants with individualized legal consultations, advice on legal rights, and arranging referrals for pro-bono or low-cost legal services. Individuals who have been detained may be eligible to receive free legal representation to pursue bond or release, and more. Find out how to get involved.
  • In San Francisco, organizations like CARECEN, Catholic Charities, ICWC and Dolores Street Community Services are also responding to the needs of noncitizens.
  • Another way to help is to support local bond funds.
  • Cookies Not Cages! El Cerrito Progressives is raising funds to support the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant (EBSC), which provides legal support for local immigrant minors here without their families. Thousands of unaccompanied minors are living in California, and hundreds attend local area schools. ECP is holding monthly bake sales at El Cerrito Plaza (near Trader Joe’s) during August, September, and October, on the third Saturday of the month; and at Kensington Farmers Market on the third Sunday of the month. If you’re interested in baking or staffing the table please contact Ada Fung at as.fung@gmail.com  Can’t make it? You can also donate at this gofundme fundraiser.
  • See more in our recent article, Show UP for Immigrant Justice.

Debates, round two: what did you think?

Deadline: sooner is better than later – What did you think of the second round of debates? Who tackled the issues head-on and who ducked? Who said what you wanted to hear and whose ideas came up short? Who do you think should drop out now?

What you can do:

Tell the candidates your opinions. If we want the best possible candidates, we need to tell them – and keep telling them – what we want, including what we like and what we don’t like in what we’re hearing from them.

To refresh your recollection, here are the candidates who debated each night, in alphabetical order:

  • Night 1, Tuesday, July 30: Steve Bullock, Pete Buttigieg, John Delaney, Amy Klobuchar, John Hickenlooper, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Marianne Williamson
  • Night 2, Wednesday, July 31: Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Jay Inslee, Andrew Yang

We’ve made it easy for you to contact the candidates. Click on their names in the alphabetical list below to get to their campaign websites, which have ways you can contact them. Or contact them on Facebook or twitter. Tell your friends to speak up, too.

And leave a comment on this article to let US know what you think!

Fantastic, and not-so-fantastic, candidates, and where to find them (candidates’ names are links to their campaign websites):

Photo of July 30 debate watch party by IEB Governance Committee member Linh Nguyen

and furthermore … Debates, round two

Deadline: through July 31, and after – Ah, those good old innocent days of the first Democratic Presidential debates, before part of our country was telling another part to go back where they came from. But seriously folks, a few things have changed since the first set of debates, so we’ve updated our Primary Primer for you. Whether you have a favorite candidate or not, check out where the candidates stand on the big issues, and get in touch with the candidates if you want them to say more or if you don’t like what they’re saying. This is the time for us to make our voices heard, while everything is still up in the air.

What you can do:

Let’s call (or email, or tweet, or your platform of choice) the candidates on it:

Step one: Check out their positions.

Politico has this guide to the issues, searchable by candidate, issue or category. (Caveat: the site says it’s current as of July 17, but it still lists Eric Swalwell, who bowed out on July 8). You can also check the candidates’ websites to see what they say about your key issues. Scroll down to the end of this article for links to all of the candidates’ websites and social media. A tip: the easier an issue is to find on a candidate’s site, and the more detail the site devotes to it, the more important that issue is to the candidate.

Step two: Tell the candidates what you think.

To say what we all know: Candidates have been known to change their positions based on pressure. Are you pleased with the priority they’re giving your top issues and what they’re saying? Thank them. Have they failed to address an issue? Demand that they address it, and tell them what you hope they’ll say. Have they taken a position you don’t like? Tell them. Especially tell the candidates if their position, or lack of a position, makes the difference between you supporting them, opposing them, or considering supporting someone else. After all, it’s all about getting your vote!

We’ve made it easy for you to contact the candidates. Click on their names in the list below to get to their campaign websites, which have ways you can contact them; we also list their campaigns’ facebook pages and twitter accounts. And try this cool tool from Indivisible National: you record a video telling the presidential candidates what you want to hear from the debate stage, and they’ll format and subtitle it and send you a link that you can spread by email and on your social media. Tell your friends to speak up, too!

Step three: Tune in: watch the debates.

The schedule for Round Two:

  • Night 1, Tuesday, July 30, 5 PM Pacific Time: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Steve Bullock, John Delaney, John Hickenlooper, Tim Ryan, & Marianne Williamson
  • Night 2, Wednesday, July 31, 5 PM Pacific Time: Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Andrew Yang, Michael Bennet, Bill de Blasio, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, & Jay Inslee

Watch the debates with us! We’re co-hosting a Big Screen Democratic Debate Watch Party from 5 to 8 PM both nights at Spats in Berkeley, along with our friends from the East Bay Activist Alliance and Berkeley Democratic Club.

Or on the first night only, Tues. July 30, watch at Everett & Jones, Jack London Square, 126 Broadway, Oakland. This event is hosted by Oakland/East Bay Coordinated GOTV (Get Out the Vote) Team, and co-hosted by Swing Left, Commit to Flip Blue, and others.  Doors open at 4 PM. RSVP here but please note that RSVP’ing doesn’t guarantee you a seat. FREE.

Don’t want to go out? CNN is hosting the debates this time, and they’ll stream live on CNN.com, CNN apps for iOS and Android, and on the CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, and Android TV. Invite friends over and have your own debate watch party! Here’s a great resource from Indy National.

Want to watch/re-watch all or part of the first set of debates? You can see the first night here and the second night here.

Fantastic, and not-so-fantastic, candidates, and where to find them (candidates’ names are links to their campaign websites):

Graphic, Lincoln – Douglas, by XKCD

The administration is causing the border crisis

This article was edited on July 17 to reflect updates since its original publication.

The administration is right about there being an immigration crisis, but it isn’t for the reasons they’re telling us: It’s because THEY created it. And they’re making it worse by quietly instituting new administrative policies that will make conditions worse for more people, and deny the right to apply for asylum to more people.

Tell your Members of Congress: Don’t let this administration get away with this. All of our MoCs care about this issue, and they all need to raise their voices and show leadership on these new and renewed threats. And one in particular – CA-15 Representative Eric Swalwell, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee – can do even more.

Read on for more background, and scroll down for call scripts and contact info.

Crisis #1: The Kids:

On July 1, advocates for immigrant children filed a lawsuit to block a new policy that would give US Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials the power to decide that children designated as unaccompanied minors should lose that status. The suit names the federal Department of Homeland Security and its acting secretary, Kevin McAleenan, as well as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and its acting director, Ken Cuccinelli as defendants, and seeks class-action status and a temporary restraining order.

Unaccompanied minors have special protections in asylum applications, including being granted an asylum interview rather than having to appear in court. In other words: under an unannounced policy change, officials will quietly be able to make it far more difficult for tens of thousands of children to apply for asylum, without the public ever knowing. (This, by the way, is why we need investigative journalism and better whistleblower protection laws…)

According to the LA Times:

Federal asylum officers have been rushing to process as many unaccompanied minor applications as possible before the change takes effect Sunday, USCIS personnel told The Times, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect against professional retaliation.

Crisis #2: The Crowds:

Seems the administration is happy to blame a lot of things – from family separations to inhumane conditions – on the fact that there are enormous crowds of would-be immigrants at the southern border. Turns out, the administration itself has created those crowds.

As NPR recently explained:

In May 2018, US Customs and Border Protection officials began a practice known as “metering” across the southern border. This means that officials are stationed at official ports of entry along the border to notify arriving asylum-seekers that US border crossings are full due to “limited processing capacity” and they will have to wait in Mexico until space becomes available. Previously, officials processed all asylum-seekers that showed up at crossings.

Thus, instead of being processed promptly at border crossings, families are forced to wait in Mexico in haphazard “camps” – or on the streets – where they are vulnerable to threats and exploitation. Some choose instead to cross the border between the ports of entry to seek asylum and are apprehended by the CBP patrol agents and brought to CBP field stations. There, children not traveling with a parent or legal guardian – or whose parents are arbitrarily deemed “dangerous” – are separated from adult family members. Ironically, even the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have called the situation at the border a “humanitarian crisis”, and it’s unlikely that anyone would seriously disagree. The union for federal asylum workers has brought a lawsuit claiming the “wait in Mexico” program is “fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our Nation.” 

People seeking asylum have a legal right to do so in the country where they seek to be. The administration insists they aren’t doing anything wrong: according to CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, “It’s not turning people away, it’s asking them to wait.” Just – not in the United States.

What you can do:

Tell all your Members of Congress:

My name is ________, my zip code is ________ and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’ve heard about about the new policy that would let USCIS officers strip migrant children of their status as unaccompanied minors and make it harder for them to apply for asylum. I want _____ to speak out against this and to do everything possible against all of the administration’s efforts to prevent people from seeking asylum in this country.

If your Representative is Eric Swalwell:

In Indivisible East Bay’s very recent meetings with Rep. Swalwell, he has expressed great concern for the plight of migrants, and strong opposition to the administration’s immigration policies. Rep. Swalwell sits on the House Judiciary Committee, which on July 9 announced that it is marking up a resolution “to authorize subpoenas for documents and testimony from current and former Administration officials relating to the Trump Administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy and other family separation policies and practices; detention of children and families; and discussions about or offers of presidential pardons to Department of Homeland Security officials or employees.” When you call Rep. Swalwell, also say:

I want to thank Rep. Swalwell for making this a priority issue. I’m happy that the House Judiciary Committee is investigating the administration’s immigration policies, and I want Rep. Swalwell to make sure that this investigation includes the new USCIS policy that will threaten the well-being of children seeking asylum, and the metering of migrants and asylum seekers at the southern border. I hope he’ll do everything possible to call to account those responsible for the terrible situations in the camps and to reverse the current inhumane policies.

MoC contact info:

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065