Rallies, Rocking & Rainbows!

Yes, we put the East Bay into Indivisible East Bay this past weekend, with events in Hayward, Berkeley and Oakland all in one 48 hour period!

First up, on September 6, Cal State East Bay students and faculty rallied in downtown Hayward to #SaveIsabel. Dozens of students marched from the Hayward campus through the streets to City Hall, singing “Which Side Are You On?” At City Hall, City Councilmember Aisha Wahab emceed the event organized by the CSU East Bay Associated Students Incorporated, Students for Quality Education and political science professor Danvy Le, at which about 100 people gathered to hear stories about what it means to be a Dreamer and the importance of protecting rights for patients such as Isabel.

Rep. Swalwell speaking at Save Isabel rally, photo by Andrea Lum
Rep. Swalwell speaking at Save Isabel rally

CA-15 Representative Eric Swalwell addressed the crowd, expressing his strong support for Rep. Mark DeSaulnier’s private bill HR 4225 requesting rescission of the original order terminating the Bueso family’s stay. The Hayward event followed an earlier rally for Isabel organized by the nurses and doctors of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland.

The next morning, members of Indivisible East Bay convened at Berkeley City College, joining over 150 other local activists at the East Bay Rock the Congress conference led by Ogie Strogatz and Kook Huber, both longtime allies of IEB and outstanding activist leaders. RtC gave attendees new ideas and perspectives to consider while doing the hard work of organizing. Aimee Alison, founder of She the People and Democracy in Color, groups dedicated to advancing people of color in politics, delivered an inspiring keynote reminding attendees that there is a path to the White House among voters of color if we do the work to Get Out The Vote (GOTV). Dublin City Councilmember Shawn Kumagai – who readers of this blog may remember from his efforts to get Dublin to fly the rainbow flag for Pride – then facilitated a discussion of issue oriented and electoral focused organizations.

At Rock the Congress: Dublin City Councilmember Shawn Kumagai moderating discussion with activist leaders, photo by Andrea Lum
Shawn Kumagai moderating discussion with activist leaders

After lunch, attendees learned about Census 2020, how young people are leading change, and more. IEB Governance Committee members Nancy and Andrea presented a session on member engagement, otherwise known as “A bunch of randos walk into a protest.” 

Rock the Congress conference, photo by Andrea Lum

Click on the link in the schedule to learn more about the presenters for the jam-packed Rock the Congress conference.

IEB capped off the weekend by having a booth at the September 10 Oakland Pride Festival

Everyone enjoyed the excellent weather, reflected in the good mood and high energy of Pride attendees. Festival participants trickled in at first, but traffic picked up quickly and stayed strong for most of the festival’s duration. IEB’s booth was located on Franklin Street, the main thoroughfare of the festival, so we were able to catch a sizable portion of the crowd as they walked past our table. Our “Resist Trump!” whiteboard proved popular, attracting cheers, donations, and visitors who stopped by the table to see how they could get involved in our work.

IEB table at Oakland Pride, photo by Andrea Lum
IEB table at Oakland Pride,

Many had already heard of Indivisible and were familiar with its work. Some regular newsletter readers stopped by to say hello, along with folks who had attended past events and were looking to get re-engaged. We introduced Indivisible to a few new volunteers looking to get involved in activism for the first time. Many thanks to the IEB volunteers who showed up early and stayed late to spread the good word of resistance to the Pride-goers! 

If any of these activities sound like something you’d like to attend or help out with in the future, just send volunteer coordinator Andrea (andrea@indivisibleeb.org) an email to let her know. What a great weekend of good conversations, new newsletter signups, and high energy!

Photographs by Andrea Lum

Don’t deport people getting lifesaving care

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services acknowledged the obvious this week: its decision to end the humanitarian “deferred action” program for immigrants receiving lifesaving medical treatment in the US would cost lives. Faced with growing public outrage – and likely not wanting such obvious blood on its hands – the White House announced on Labor Day that it’s reconsidering this terrible decision. We hope that the medical deferred action status program will be renewed, but it’s far from certain, and we need to keep the pressure up! This is literally a matter of life and death to at least one East Bay family, and to an unknown number of others here legally in the US for medical treatment – read on below to find out what you can do, and for the story of Concord’s own Isabel Bueso, and more.

What you can do:

1. Speak out, spread the word, share the stories. At this time our most powerful weapon is public pressure on the administration to revoke the decision to end the humanitarian medical deferred action program.  However you engage with people – in person, by email, phone, on social media – share this link to our article. We don’t often post petitions, but you should share this one: it was started by Isabel’s mother Karla, and nearly 80 thousand people have already signed! The petition includes a lot of valuable information about Isabel and her situation, and even has a useful link for you to tweet directly to Trump.

2. Thank our Members of Congress who are working on behalf of Isabel and other people affected by this cruel action (see below). Let them all know how important this issue is to you, and ask them to do everything possible to protect immigrants.

  • Read the powerful letter spearheaded by CA-11 Representative DeSaulnier and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley (news about the termination letters was first broken by Boston media). The August 30 letter to the heads of DHS, ICE, and USCIS, condemning the cruel action and raising critical questions, was signed by over 100 Members of Congress including Senators Feinstein and Harris and Reps. DeSaulnier and Lee.
  • Rep. DeSaulnier  and Senator Kamala Harris have been actively pursuing avenues that might allow Isabel and her family to remain in the US, including sending a letter asking Acting DHS Secretary McAleenan to reconsider the decision.
  • On September 3, Rep. DeSaulnier also introduced a private bill to allow Isabel to remain in the country.  The legislation, H.R. 4225, would provide Isabel and her family with permanent resident status so they can remain without fear of removal.
  • 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

3. Join one of the rallies in support of Isabel and other migrants, planned for this week:

  • The California Nurses Association has organized an Oakland rally to support Isabel outside UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital on Friday, September 6 from 12:30-1:15 PM.
  • Join students at CSU East Bay rallying on the lawn at Hayward City Hall on September 6 at 5 PM. Contact asipresident@csueastbay.edu for questions or volunteer opportunities.

640 Migrant Rights Rally hayward sept 6 flyer

More information:

Before the administration’s change of heart/attempt to prove that it actually has a heart, the Concord family of Isabel Bueso received notice that they could no longer stay in the US for the lifesaving treatment that Isabel receives here and cannot receive in the family’s home country of Guatemala. The family would have to leave within about a month, they were told, or face deportation. It’s not clear how many families got rejection letters of this sort, which cited no basis for the rejection and provided no means to appeal. It still isn’t clear whether Isabel – or any of the other families – can stay or must leave.

Isabel, a recent graduate of Cal State East Bay, has a rare illness, MPS-6, and was invited to our country from Guatemala with her family to participate in a clinical trial. For 16 years, she has received care at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, and this care keeps her alive; read UCSF’s statement on Isabel’s possible deportation. Isabel and her family pay for her care through private insurance, and they renew their visas every two years. Since this treatment isn’t available in Guatemala, ending the deferred action program means cutting off Isabel’s ability to receive the weekly treatment that is keeping her alive.

Rachel Maddow ran a heartbreaking segment on Isabel’s story, and celebrities have taken up her cause. But it shouldn’t take celebrities or members of Congress to point out the obvious: it’s beyond outrageous to deport people who are legally in this country for lifesaving medical treatment most of them can’t receive in their countries of origin.

 

Ann Daniels and Heidi Rand contributed to this article

Photograph of Isabel Bueso by Garvin Tso

Team IEB at the Port of Oakland

On July 25, a group of Indivisible East Bay members attended the Port of Oakland Board of Commissioners meeting to present concerns about Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportations at Oakland Airport. IEB attended in support of Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA) and Centro Legal de la Raza, and were joined by East Bay Alliance for Sustainable Economy (EBASE). Before the proceedings began, IEB Governance Committee member Ted Lam was interviewed by KTVU’s Alyana Gomez, and Lourdes Martinez from MUA and Amelia Cass from IEB shared their questions about how Oakland as a sanctuary city could support deportations. 

Six of the speakers present addressed the Port of Oakland’s relationship with ICE: Ted requested a response from the Port about how deportation flights could have been authorized and who signed the contract, and Amelia followed up with a recommendation to bring in community groups who could advise on how to move forward. Ms. Martinez and Rosario Cruz from MUA described how ICE has terrorized the community they serve and asked the Port to renegotiate contracts to ensure they align with Oakland’s sanctuary city values. Divya Sundar from EBASE also reiterated the need for the Port to honor the sanctuary commitment. 

In response to the public comments, the Port’s Director Danny Wan stated that as an immigrant himself, he understands the concerns of the community. The Port had begun investigating the situation three days prior, when they were first made aware of the deportations. Wan said that “Port employees have not participated in or actively aided deportations” and that the Port is looking into “how and why the flights are taking place.” At the close, another Port commissioner stated that the item might be placed on the agenda for open discussion at a future meeting. IEB was able to submit both our formal statement and that of Centro Legal to be entered into the record.

The next Port of Oakland meeting is scheduled for September 12, 2019. As new developments arise, we will keep you informed of possible actions as we continue to support our partners who are experts in the field.

Photo by Ted Lam

Ted Lam, Paula Schmidlen and Fiona Woods contributed to this article.

 

 

There’s no ICE in SANCTUARY

Like most people in the East Bay, we in Indivisible East Bay were shocked to learn that Oakland Airport has been the site of thousands of deportations. Hidden in Plain Sight: ICE Air and the Machinery of Mass Deportation,” the extraordinary report by the University of Washington’s Center for Human Rights, reveals that almost 27,000 people were deported through Oakland Airport between 2010 and 2018. IEB spoke to the report’s authors in consultation with Centro Legal de la Raza and the Asian Law Caucus, and we learned that it gets even worse: 6,080 of those removals were potentially problematic. 313 of those deported still had pending immigration proceedings, 13 were removed despite having deferred action or some other benefit that should have blocked their deportation, and 5,754 of them underwent forms of deportation such as expedited removal, with no chance to appear before an immigration judge. And on July 22 2019, the White House expanded fast-track deportation regulations, meaning even more people nationwide will be deported without due process protections.

Both Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and the Port of Oakland, under whose jurisdiction the airport falls, have said that they had no prior knowledge that these flights were occurring. Mike Zampa, spokesperson for the Port of Oakland, issued the following statement:

The Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport understand community concerns over this issue. We have been, and will remain in compliance with sanctuary city laws. No Port or Airport employees were part of any immigration investigation, detention or arrest procedures in connection with possible immigration law violations.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement claims that the deportation flights out of Oakland stopped in October 2018, but there is no guarantee that they will not resume in the future. And while the Port states that they are in compliance with Oakland’s sanctuary city laws, it is unclear what that means – or what changes they will make in the future to “strengthen (their) commitment to the sanctuary city policy,” as Mayor Schaaf reported. To further complicate matters, while the members of the Port of Oakland Board of Commissioners are appointed by the mayor of Oakland, and the Port maintains it’s a public agency and steward of public assets, it is not clear how the Board holds itself accountable.

We have some ideas.

If you’re a resident of Oakland, call Mayor Libby Schaaf’s office at 510-238-3141 or email officeofthemayor@oaklandnet.com:

My name is ________, I’m a resident of Oakland and a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m asking Mayor Schaaf to hold the Port of Oakland accountable in their response to the deportations that occurred at the Oakland Airport.  If the Port is truly committed to the sanctuary city policy, they should be transparent in how that is upheld and maintained.

In addition, IEB members are planning a presentation to the Port of Oakland itself, complete with a series of asks concerning public transparency, detailed information about the Port’s current and past relationship with ICE, and a request for an investigation into how the airport has handled past deportation flights, including any rights violations that may have occurred. We’ll keep you up to date!

Photo credit: Entrance to Oakland Airport BART Station, by Weegee010

Laugh Out Loud on Aug. 17 with IEB

Have you heard the great news? Brian Copeland and Charlie Varon are turning up for Indivisible East Bay in a big way. They, like us all, have been quietly going insane while our country descends into chaos. Like true artists, they’ve channeled their frustration into a comedy, “The Great American Sh*t Show,” a series of monologues about their experience during the T#$%P era.

Smart, funny, provocative and at times, unexpectedly deeply moving, this is theater as a welcome dash of hope in dark times and a much needed call to arms. Created by three of the most accomplished solo theater artists in the Bay Area. GASS is four beautifully crafted and oh-so-timely monologues. This may be the perfect piece of theater for our times.  By Robert Hurwitt  – Former San Francisco Chronicle Theater Critic

The best part of the news? IEB will receive $20 for every ticket purchased in advance for the Saturday August 17, 7 PM show at the Castro Valley Center for the Arts  if you use the code “Indivisible.” Buy your tickets and choose the best seats here. You can read a description of the show here and listen to this recent KPFA interview with Brian and Charlie where they talk about how the monologues developed.

That’s $20 from each ticket for pens, postcards, booth fees, the newsletterwebsite and everything else that goes towards keeping the progressive heart of IEB alive. We try to keep costs down (thank you for free meeting space, Sports Basement!), so we’re very grateful to Brian and Charlie for thinking of us.

Wear your Indivisible East Bay or other resistance t-shirt and join us next month for this night of therapy! And if you can’t join us but want to give a little something, you can keep the resistance going right here.

 

photo by Susan Rutberg

Immigration Roundtable with Rep. Swalwell

On July 8, Andrea Lum and LeAnn Kanowsky of Indivisible East Bay attended CA-15 Representative Eric Swalwell’s roundtable discussion on the situation at our border and immigration detention centers. Eden United Church of Christ hosted the event, and representatives from Indivisible Livermore, Tiburcio Vazquez Health Center, other religious organizations, and legal aid agencies who provide services to immigrants were invited to participate in the hour-long discussion. Swalwell’s goal was to share his recent experience visiting the detention centers, discuss how we can help those in need, and collect information to support legislation in Congress to improve treatment of those crossing the border and seeking asylum.

During Swalwell’s recent visit with several other members of Congress to Homestead detention center in Florida, officials refused to open, let alone distribute, boxes of donated soap and toothbrushes. He noted that no one from the delegation visit was allowed to enter the detention center, as the officials at Homestead cited a need for two weeks’ advance notice.

The legal aid advocates at the meeting confirmed that the situation at the border and at the detention centers is “chaotic” and that the attitude by the current administration has encouraged bad behavior by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Once detainees have established “credible fear” with CBP, the interview is supposed to end and ICE should be involved. However, the legal advocates stated that immigrants often report CBP continuing to probe for information, creating a hostile environment. In addition, indigenous immigrants who do not speak Spanish (such as Maya people from Guatemala and Honduras), are severely disadvantaged by a lack of translators and unaware of the need to assert fear as the first process of seeking asylum.

Swalwell said the House Judiciary Committee, of which he is a member, will soon hold hearings on how to hold ICE and CBP officials accountable for the inhumane and criminal treatment of those in custody and stated that going forward, the next administration may need to completely remake ICE in order to clean up the “poisoned pool” of its employees.

When asked what we could do to help, Swalwell said that the upcoming Lights for Liberty events are important for boosting awareness. The following organizations are also worthy of support:

  • Immigrant Family Defense Fund: Legal and community resources for families in Alameda County public schools
  • The Florence Project: AZ legal service provider for adults and children
  • Keep Tuscon Together: AZ project that assists community members being deported
  • County Rapid Response Networks need our support, and we need to encourage our County Supervisors to commit to providing long term funding to these organizations.

At the conclusion of the meeting, we met an immigrant mother and her three children who are awaiting arrival of their father who is still in custody even though he won his asylum case. The administration is detaining him pending appeal, in spite of federal regulations which prohibit this.

Photograph (top) (c) Rep. Swalwell’s office, from December 2018 Town Hall

We Love Virginia Voters

Deadline: Tuesday, June 11 –

As you know, Indivisible East Bay has committed to help flip four seats in the Virginia state legislature from Republican to Democratic this fall. Before we get there, though, there’s a critical Democratic primary next Tuesday, June 11 in Virginia’s 35th Senate district, where newcomer Yasmine Taeb is taking on party leader Dick Saslaw. Among other major issues: the influence of Dominion Energy, with which Saslaw has ties, and the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines, which Saslaw supports and Taeb opposes. Reclaim Our Vote has asked for our help in turning out the vote.

In partnership with the NAACP, Black Voters Matter, Mi Familia Vota and other organizations, ROV specifically reaches out to voters of color. For this phone bank campaign, the goal is to call this heavily Democratic non-white Hispanic and Asian district and encourage them to vote next Tuesday. In the last state election, fewer than 25,000 people voted out of more than 200,000 residents.

ROV is non-partisan and the calls to the Latino and Asian voters will inform them of the upcoming vote and let them know how the two candidates differ. No persuasion, just information.

What you can do:

This year, it’s crucial to remind Virginians that the SD-35 seat is worth voting for. ROV is asking you to commit to a total of 50 phone calls between today and next Tuesday’s election.  For more information and to get started, email rov@peopledemandingaction.org

And to receive latest updates on ROV postcard parties and phonebanking events, email andrea@indivisibleeb.org.

 

 

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

P.S. #44 was actually phonebanking in Virginia for this excellent photo!

 

April $hower$ Can Make it Rain

Thanks to the support of volunteers like you, Indivisibles across the country worked tirelessly to take back the House last November. This has allowed Democrats to use their new power in the majority to investigate the Trump administration’s corruption and push back on his racist border wall, all while advocating for democracy reform, a Green New Deal, protection for Dreamers and TPS recipients, and much more.

We run a lean Democracy machine here at Indivisible East Bay! We hold our meetings in free or low cost locations (shout-out to Sports Basement, the Finnish Hall, and Local Union 595), and we try to keep our postcard parties and other events economically accessible to all. But sometimes there are activities that are worth an investment —whether it’s tabling at a march or buying poster board, paints, and pens. So, every now and then we ask for a little help from our friends, to keep the pressure on, to continue to organize, build power, and fight back in 2019!

We’ve set a goal to raise $500 this month for upcoming actions, and Indivisible National has offered to match this goal, dollar for dollar — but only for support received in April. Help us reach our goal and meet this matching challenge by chipping in $20.19 (or an other amount) — your gift will go twice as far if you give today!

Here’s the link to make your donation — and thank you!

Your contribution will be directed to us through Indivisible Project, a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, which are not deductible for federal income tax purposes as charitable contributions.

Photo of Indivisible East Bay All Members Meeting by Heidi Rand

And then we were Two

Indivisible East Bay held its two year anniversary at our All Members Meeting on Sunday January 27, celebrating our successes and quickly diving into what comes next.

AMM, co-emcees Andrea and Ted
Co-emcees Andrea and Ted

To get us rolling, Governance Committee members Nick, Toni, and Linh outlined the importance of HR 1, also known as the For the People Act, and how we need to keep our Members of Congress focused on this important piece of legislation. As the first piece of business issued from the House, it puts to the forefront critical democratic reforms such as restoring the Voting Rights Act, reforming the campaign finance system, and keeping corruption out of the presidency.  Check this primer from Indivisible National and our IEB take on why it is so important and what we can do to keep momentum going.

AMM, Sunrise Movement presentation by Alex Morrison and Sylvia Chi
Sunrise Movement presentation by Alex Morrison and Sylvia Chi

Everyone heard the latest on the Green New Deal and the fantastic Sunrise Movement from two of its Bay Area members, Sylvia Chi and Alex Morrison. A youth-led movement (which also welcomes non-youths!), Sunrise aims to “stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.” In a very short amount of time, Sunrise has successfully led campaigns to get fossil fuel money out of politics and endorsed 19 successful candidates in the 2018 midterms. The goal post-midterms is to pressure all members of Congress, Congressional candidates, and presidential candidates to support the Green New Deal. You can view their informative presentation here.

We then broke for breakouts and birthday cake, and engaged in one of our favorite activities–writing postcards! We wrote to support Nasreen Johnson, the only Democrat running for Fresno County Board of Supervisors. If you missed out, never fear–join our postcard party at Sports Basement on February 10!

AMM, writing postcards to voters
Writing postcards to voters

Next month, join us on February 24 in beautiful Dublin, for our first CA-15-located All Members Meeting!

 

 

Won’t you take me to Cat Town?

By Andrea Lum and Wesley Chang

Since October 2,  Indivisible East Bay has been fortunate enough to hold phone banking events at the unique space of Cat Town, near downtown Oakland. This quirky venue is part café and part cat shelter and is definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in the area, especially (maybe only?) if you like cats.

The partnership developed from a need to find a free, quiet space (check) that was friendly to our progressive activities (check check) and might have a pawsitive effect on nervous phone bankers (meow and check). We are so grateful that Cat Town generously volunteered their space for us to use. It’s become so popular, we have had to close the registration twice in the past month!

Phone banking with Indivisible East Bay
Calmer calling amidst kitties. photo by Wesley Chang

On October 17, it was among a clowder of playful and friendly (and a tad skittish) cats that a group of volunteers gathered for their weekly phone banking. As the cats napped, climbed, and scurried about, volunteers worked on their laptops and phones, reaching out to potential swing voters in Nevada ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. The roaming cats were certainly a welcome diversion during breaks.  We may have provided a diversion to them as well.

Phone banking with Indivisible East Bay
Multi-tasking is an essential component of phone banking. photo by Wesley Chang

Many thanks to Ann Dunn and all the staff at Cat Town for their generosity in letting Indivisible East Bay use their beautiful space. If you follow Cat Town on Instagram, you might just find your next feline soul mate!

And a huge thank you to Pro Bono Photo for arranging the services of cat whisperer and photographer Wesley Chang for the fantastic photos!

It’s your turn! Please join us — sign up for as many phone banks or other Get Out the Vote events as you can from now until November 6. See our “Volunteer to Flip the G-D- Congress” list and calendar, and find out what you can do on the critical Last Weekend.