Abuses Alleged at Richmond ICE Facility

No access to bathrooms, only to plastic bags. Hours-long lockdowns. Federal immigration detainees at the West County Detention Facility have documented these and other complaints in a September letter signed by 27 inmates to Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), a group that monitors jails where immigrants are detained.

Complaint filed by immigration detainees

The Contra Costa County Sheriff – whose office has a $6 million-a-year contract with ICE to operate the immigration detention center – is investigating the allegations of mistreatment raised by the detainees.

The allegations were publicly revealed in a San Francisco Chronicle article on November 2, and the newspaper has further investigated the story:

You can also read detainees’ demands to improve conditions at the West County Detention Facility, released by the East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition.

The reports have raised concerns among state elected officials. Reportedly, Representative Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) has scheduled a tour of the jail on November 27, and State Senator Nancy Skinner has urged California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a letter to probe conditions at the jail.

What you can do:

Please call your elected officials and say:

Hi. My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m with Indivisible East Bay. As the SF Chronicle has reported, immigration detainees at the ICE facility at West County Detention Center in Richmond are alleging abuse and mistreatment. Please move quickly to conduct a thorough, independent investigation to insure that their rights are upheld and that conditions do not put their health at risk.

Call State Attorney General Xavier Becerra and ask him to investigate, as Sen. Nancy Skinner has reportedly asked him to do. Public Inquiry Unit: (916) 210-6276 or (800) 952-5225

Other ways to help:

  • Nancy Burke, of Courageous Resistance / Indivisible El Sobrante & Richmond, is organizing a meeting with the sheriff who runs the West County Detention Center to bring the community’s concerns to her attention. The meeting will focus on 10 points of concern about conditions at the facility. Please contact Nancy by email or phone: (510) 932-9267 if you have questions or you’re interested in attending the meeting.
  • Save the date to help support CIVIC (the group to whom the detainees sent the letter) in their work to end the isolation of West County immigration detainees. Artists for Humanity invites all to an afternoon of music, poetry, and dance, January 28, 2018, 2:30 to 5:00 PM at Ashkenaz in Berkeley. The benefit concert (asking for a sliding scale donation) will create a revolving bail fund to be used by West County detainees to reunite with their families and gain legal representation. Email for more information.

No Saturday Night Massacre 2017

Word leaking from the White House is that Trump is losing his shizzle as Special Counsel Robert Mueller & Team close in on the president and his friends & family in pursuing the Russia investigation. The October 30 bombshell unsealing of the 12 count indictments against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates, and an eye-popping guilty plea by Trump’s former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI has ratcheted up the pressure.

Some Republicans are trying to diminish, obstruct or outright kill the investigations into Trump’s Russia ties. A resolution was introduced on November 3 to remove Mueller, and Fox News and other right wing media are pushing for firing. Meanwhile, Democrats have introduced legislation to protect Mueller or bolster the investigation, including Rep. John Conyers’ (D-MI) Special Counsel Integrity Act (H.R. 3771).

There’s much you can do:

  • Call your MoCs and say: My name is ___, I’m a constituent from [zip code], and a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please do all you can to combat Republican efforts to obstruct Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, and to support Democratic efforts to protect it. Thank you.
  • Send an e-letter: Join the Action Network’s online letter-writing campaignRead more details and use the easy form to have letters sent to your MoCs.
  • Hit the streets if Mueller is fired!  MoveOn is calling for emergency Nobody is Above the Law rallies nationwide if Trump fires Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Search by zip code to find an event. At this time, local rallies set for San Francisco and Walnut Creek.

Stayed tuned for further news!

Make Peace, Not War

Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in 2001 in reaction to the 9/11 attacks. Since then, thousands of American troops have been killed and injured and hundreds of thousands of civilian lives lost in the Middle East. It took an ambush in Niger (and fumbled condolence phone call) to get Congress to schedule a hearing on the 60-words long authorization that has enabled presidents to launch more than 37 military campaigns in the past sixteen years.

But a Congressional hearing doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods; hawks want to expand the scope of the authorization and if they prevail, it’s round infinity in the dead end war on terror. We must all demand a repeal of this blank check for the President, and Congress has to do its job. Hiding behind 4-star generals was not what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they wrote that Congress had the power

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

With a dangerously out-of-touch and unstable Commander in Chief, we can not continue to be complicit when even those charged with oversight can’t keep track of where our military is deployed, let alone explain why!

For 16 YEARS our own Representative Barbara Lee has fearlessly pushed to revisit this dangerously overbroad war authorization. Let’s give her our full support and demand a full repeal.

Please call Senators Feinstein and Harris, and Representatives DeSaulnier and Swalwell, and say:

My name is _____, I’m a constituent from [zip code], and a member of  Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask [ ] to support a full repeal of the Authorization of Military Force passed by Congress after 9/11. The 16 year old AUMF is a blank check to wage war. Giving this President such latitude is a risk to national and global security. His disregard for our military service-members and their families (evidenced by his reaction to the ambush in Niger), civilians caught in the crossfire, and provocative statements to other foreign powers show that he is incapable of the responsibility of leading a nation at war.  Please call for repeal of 2001 AUMF.

Call to Restrict First Use of Nuclear Weapons

Seems obvious, right? With tiny tweeting hands on the trigger, the time is now to ramp up Senate support for S.200, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act, and H.R.669, the companion bill in the House of Representatives written by Rep Ted Lieu of California.  Both bills would ban a presidential nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress. If it passes by a veto proof margin (i.e. doesn’t need POTUS signature to become law), soldiers or whoever are in command, can disobey and face no consequences, thanks to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Senator Feinstein and Representative Lee were early supporters of these bills. Please thank them and ask them to get their colleagues on board. Ask Senator Harris and Representatives DeSaulnier and Swalwell to support the legislation as well.

Tell your MoCs:  

My name is _____, I’m with Indivisible East Bay from [zip code]. I support the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act and I want you to fight for its immediate passage. The President should not be able to launch a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress. Thank you.”

And please encourage your friends and family in other states to get their MoCs to co-sponsor and fight for S.200/H.R.669. We must all work for this legislation as though our lives depended on it – because one day soon they might!

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email)
(415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

Sen. Kamala Harris (email)
(415) 355-9041 • 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

Are you on Twitter? Representative Ted Lieu is a master tweeter, follow and RT him: @tedlieu.

Don’t Forget Puerto Rico!

The administration throws paper towels, says that loss of life and infrastructure isn’t really a crisis, and then makes a jaw-dropping attempt to simply remove unflattering statistics from the FEMA website about the lack of access to water and electricity in Puerto Rico. The territory is still in the grip of a humanitarian crisis. The deadline for people to apply for aid from FEMA will probably run out before electricity and phone service is restored; the governor has begged Congressional leadership for more aid. The Jones Act waiver has expired, meaning that food and supplies will once again become unaffordable. Tell our members of Congress to push for relief for our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico!

Extend FEMA Deadline

You’ve likely heard that nearly all of Puerto Rico was without power after Hurricane Maria made landfall on September 20. According to the Department of Energy as of October 18 power has only been restored to 19% of the island. In addition, cell phone service is extremely limited. Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 9.09.24 PMThe Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is telling residents to apply for disaster relief on its website or over the phone, which is impossible for nearly all of them. Further, FEMA has a strict 60 day deadline for emergency assistance applications. That means that by the time the island has fully restored power, it will be far too late for our fellow citizens to get the aid they need and deserve.  

Please contact your MoCs today! What to say:

“My name is _____, I’m with Indivisible East Bay from [zip code]. I’m calling to ask that you support extending FEMA’s strict 60 day deadline for aid applications for Puerto Rico. With nearly 90% of the island still without power and very limited cell phone service, it will be impossible for most people to meet the deadline.”

Sen.Dianne Feinstein (email)
(415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

Sen. Kamala Harris (email)
(415) 355-9041 • 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

Inspiration:

Send More Aid

Puerto Rico’s governor has made it clear that – despite Trump’s delusional claims to the contrary – the aid that has been sent is not nearly enough to restore the territory. In fact, it isn’t enough to keep the crisis there from becoming worse. In a letter to Congressional leadership, he says:

We are grateful for the federal emergency assistance that has been provided so far. However, absent extraordinary measures to address the halt in economic activity in Puerto Rico, the humanitarian crisis will deepen …

Get the Jones Act out of the way

The Jones Act is a nearly century-old law under which only ships registered in the United States may carry goods and passengers from one United States port to another. Under the Jones Act, foreign vessels had to pay punitive tariffs, fees, and taxes to bring American goods to Puerto Rico, or they could reroute to Florida and offload to an American ship, an expensive procedure. These extra costs are passed on to the consumer, making prices there on U.S. goods exorbitantly high: under the Jones Act, food is twice as expensive in Puerto Rico as in Florida. A waiver of the Jones Act went into effect in late September, but it has expired. Tell your MoCs to push for getting the Jones Act out of the way so Puerto Ricans can get out of this crisis.

Congress: Renew CHIP Funding

Poor overworked GOP Congress, so busy trying to steal our health care and criminalizing 20-week abortions that it couldn’t find one little minute to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program.CHIP funding mapCHIP, a federal-state partnership, provides federal funds to cover low-cost health insurance for nearly 9 million uninsured children from low to modest-income families. If Congress doesn’t act, states will have to make tough decisions about their CHIP programs.

Please call your MoCs today! What to say:

My name is _____, I’m a constituent from [zip code]. Please support a bipartisan reauthorization of the CHIP program, and pass a clean reauthorization bill without policy riders that could delay the bill’s passage.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email)
(415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

Sen. Kamala Harris (email)
(415) 355-9041 • 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

Tell the governor: Sign AB 10, put menstrual products in schools

AB 10, which would provide period products to low-income schools, is on Governor Brown’s desk, with rumors that he may reject it. Please speak up!

Providing period products in schools may not sound like a big deal to you, but it can make the difference between girls being successful students or not. A single box of tampons can cost $7. Girls who can’t afford menstrual products may improvise with toilet paper, paper towels, or socks – or they may choose to miss school. When New York City ran a pilot program that provided free menstrual products, attendance rose 2.4%.

Please call (916) 445-2841 and say: “My name is __. I live in __. I want Governor Brown to approve AB10. Lack of access to menstrual products can keep students from attending school or can distract girls from their studies. AB10 will reduce one of the most shameful impacts of deep poverty among school age girls.”

Read this fact sheet for more about AB 10 and the need for free period products in schools. (And while you’re there, take a look at the enormous list of supporters, and the one opponent … and ask yourself why?)

Tell Your MoC: Get Puerto Rico the Aid It Needs!

Three and a half million Americans in Puerto Rico are struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Most of the island remains without power or water; some officials predict that the electric grid may remain down for up to six months. There’s no cell service. Roads have been washed away or blocked by debris. At least sixteen are dead, and that’s just what’s known; many parts of the island are inaccessible and many people have been unable to get in touch with their friends and families.

The government has declared a state of emergency, but aid doesn’t get anywhere by itself. (Paul Ryan says that Congress is working on an aid package that should be ready in a few weeks …)

The federal government has recently waived the Jones Act, a nearly century-old law under which only ships registered in the United States may carry goods and passengers from one United States port to another. Under the Jones Act, foreign vessels had to pay punitive tariffs, fees, and taxes to bring American goods to Puerto Rico, or they could reroute to Florida and offload to an American ship, an expensive procedure. These extra costs are passed on to the consumer, making prices there on U.S. goods exorbitantly high: under the Jones Act, food is twice as expensive in Puerto Rico as in Florida.

But as Senators Feinstein and Harris have told the president, Puerto Rico needs more. It needs relief for the entire island, not just the parts covered by the existing disaster declarations. It also needs long-term relief that is not being planned for. Halfway measures won’t fix this problem.

Please thank Senators Feinstein and Harris and contact your members of Congress. 

SCRIPT: This is [NAME] and I’m a constituent in [ZIP]. Puerto Rico needs our help. I know that help is being given now, but there needs to be a long term relief and rebuilding plan that must include debt forgiveness. I disagree with the proposals for obscene amounts of spending for defense. I want us to nation-build Puerto Rico.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email)
(415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841

Sen. Kamala Harris (email)
(415) 355-9041 • 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


Our friends in Mexico City are recovering from a massive quake; and as Puerto Rico was recovering from Irma, it got hit with even greater force by hurricane Maria. Below are some aid agencies doing work on the ground to bring immediate relief to those affected by quake and hurricanes.

Some of the organizations based in Mexico may convert your donation into pesos, so be sure to check the currency.

Help Preserve All Votes

Voting is the bedrock of our democracy: if it can be broken, every other right we rely on can be taken away. Many IEB’ers are doing critical work registering voters and canvassing in swing districts. To make sure those hard-won votes are counted, we must improve the security of our elections.

Expert Jim Soper explains that “the foundation of election security is based on paper ballots and random hand counts of the ballots.” On August 24, the authors of California AB 840, originally intended to ensure a thorough vote audit, inserted last-minute amendments that exempt millions of vote by mail ballots from the manual tally.

Under the amended bill, approved by the California Assembly on September 15, 2017, no provisional ballots and only ballots counted before midnight on Election Day will be eligible for audit. Why does that matter? In 2016, about 4 million California ballots were still uncounted after Election Day.

What can you do?

First, please call Governor Brown’s office TODAY, and urge him to veto the bill.

  • Office number: (916) 445-2841 
  • What to say: My name is ____. I live at [zip code]. I’m opposed to AB 840 because it exempts millions of vote by mail ballots from the election audits. Please protect the election audits. I urge Governor Brown to veto the bill. Thank you.

Next? Sign up for the Second Annual Take Back the Vote National Conference. Over 30 nationally recognized election integrity leaders will convene in Berkeley to discuss the current crises in our elections. Among the speakers or guests are computer scientists, professors, lawyers, journalists and election officials as well as federal, state and local legislators. They’ll present their findings, answer questions, and organize a national effort to restore publicly verified democracy in the United States.

  • When: October 7 and 8, 2017; 10 AM – 6 PM both days
  • Where: South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis Street, corner of Ashby Avenue
  • More info and register here. Early bird discount: $40 for 2 days. No one turned away for lack of funds
  • Can’t make it? If you can afford, please donate. Volunteers and speakers are tireless but unpaid, and contributing their time.

Take Back the Vote

There’s more! ACLU’s People Power is launching a 50-state voting rights campaign. Kickoff events to campaign for voting rights tailored to each state are planned for October 1st. Find an event or sign up to host one! You’ve got more than 20 to choose from in the Bay Area.ACLU People Power voting launchFinally, want to work with IEB to organize around voting and election issues? Email us.

Sign it and then fix it, Jerry

Our State Assembly just passed SB 54, the California Values Act, and now it’s going to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for signature. It’s vitally important that the Governor sign this legislation to prevent the state’s resources from being used by federal ICE and deportation forces.

What to say:

It’s critically important the Governor sign SB 54. The California Values Act is the first of what I hope will be many efforts to focus California’s resources and efforts on protecting and serving Californians instead of on federal ICE and deportation forces.

Jerry should also consider taking a page from Governor Cuomo’s playbook and order state agencies to not ask about immigration status. Read more about SB 54 here.

Gov. Jerry Brown (916) 445-2841