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

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.

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.

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

Leading Lights for Liberty

On July 12, 2019, thousands of people in hundreds of cities across the country gathered to protest the inhumane conditions faced by migrants, as part of Lights for Liberty: A Nationwide Vigil to End Human Detention Camps. Indivisible East Bay proudly joined the wide coalition of groups presenting Lights for Liberty events, and IEB members joined other events where they lived.

Berkeley:

Along with Together We Will-Albany Berkeley and El Cerrito Progressives, IEB co-hosted a large protest on the University Avenue Pedestrian Bridge over I-80 in Berkeley. Here are a few great photographs by Wes Chang, of Pro Bono Photo; you won’t want to miss the rest of his amazing photos at this gallery.

 

Castro Valley:

Lights for liberty vigil, Castro Valley, photo by Andrea Lum
Lights for liberty vigil, Castro Valley, photo by Andrea Lum

The Castro Valley vigil took over all four corners of Redwood Road, with about 100 participants chanting, singing songs and making their voices heard. In addition to acknowledging the tragedy at the border, the event was combined with Transgender Visibility Night Members to raise awareness about human rights. Indivisible East Bay joined members of the Castro Valley Democratic Club, Eden Area Interfaith Council, and representatives from Rep. Swalwell’s office for an energetic and memorable event.

– by Andrea Lum

Richmond:

Many CA-11 team and other IEB members joined the large vigil at Richmond’s Civic Center, organized by former Richmond city council member Ada Recinos, the Latina Center, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia’s office, and others. The crowd chanted, sang, and listened as speakers – including refugees and elected officials – decried the human rights violations by the administration, and called for everyone to resist and take action.

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Photographs by Wes Chang, of Pro Bono Photo, and IEB members Andrea Lum and Heidi Rand

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

 

Tell Big Business: No Cruelty for Profit!

By Alice Towey

It’s no secret that conditions at border detention facilities are dangerous and inhumane. Reports detail overcrowding, degrading treatment, and lack of access to food, sanitation, and medical treatment. The situation is even more dire for children who are separated from their families, locked in cages, and left without proper care. Denied basic essentials like soap and toothbrushes, these children are at risk of severe health issues, and may suffer lasting trauma as a result of their imprisonment. 

The conditions are shocking, but some CEOs can’t see past the chance to make a buck. Numerous companies have shown themselves willing to profit from human misery, continuing to do business with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in spite of the human rights violations. 

Fortunately, not everyone at these companies is willing to look the other way, and hundreds of employees have shown their moral courage by standing up for what’s right. On June 26, 2019, hundreds of employees of home furnishings company Wayfair staged a walkout to protest the company’s contract to furnish a youth detention center in Texas. Similarly, last year over 600 Salesforce employees signed a letter asking their CEO to “re-examine” the company’s contracts with CBP. 

It’s time for us to stand up as well, to tell the leadership of these companies that we see them and we will hold them accountable. Make no mistake – we want immigrant children to have beds, but we want them to have beds that aren’t in a cage. The end goal is to close the camps and release people who are exercising their basic human right (protected by international law) to seek asylum. Help apply pressure by letting these companies know that you’re watching and that you won’t tolerate their complicity in human rights abuses.

What to do:

Contact the companies doing business with ICE and CBP. Here are a sample message and below that, contacts for several corporations that have active contracts with ICE and CBP. Please email them to ask them to stop profiting from human misery. 

What to say: 

Please use as these message points but rewrite them, choose among them, reorder them to create your own message. Most companies discount or even disregard numerous emails that come in with the same or overly similar language.

If you email, be sure to include your name and your city and state.

  • I’m writing to ask that your company take immediate action to show its support for basic human rights. 
  • I understand that [COMPANY NAME] has active contracts with ICE and/or CBP, the two federal agencies involved in separating children from their families, terrorizing immigrant communities, and detaining people in inhumane conditions on the southern border. 
  • If your company has any involvement in enabling the US government to pursue a racist, inhumane policy to separate children from their parents and house them in what amount to cages and internment camps, I implore you to stop that involvement right now. 
  • At this moment in US history, we cannot rely on our elected representatives to do the right thing. 
  • Be a leader, take the moral high ground and lead the way. 
  • Don’t put profits over morality.
  • Please be on the right side of history and end your company’s involvement in these horrifying practices. 

Who’s making a buck off human misery:

Wayfair: In spite of the walkout mentioned above, Wayfair management insists it will fulfill a $200,000 order from BCFS, a government contractor that manages detention centers. 

Microsoft: ICE uses Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform for handling data. Microsoft had a $19.4 million contract with ICE as of 2018. 

Deloitte: $103 million in contracts with ICE, including $4 million which directly involve “detention compliance and removals.” 

Salesforce: CEO Marc Benioff apparently “struggled” with the decision to keep a contract with CBP, but keep it he did

General Dynamics: General Dynamics contracts with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. In fiscal year 2017, General Dynamics had $15 billion in government contracts and had faced $280.3 million penalties for 23 misconduct cases since 1995. 

More ways you can help!

Want to do more? This July 3, 2019 Sludge article lists dozens of nonprofit shelters and some companies that are profiting from detaining and transporting migrant children – contact them as well.

Alice Towey is a Civil Engineer specializing in water resource management. She lives in El Cerrito, where she and her husband are active in Indivisible CA-11 United.

Photograph © Office of Inspector General Report July 2, 2019 “Management Alert – DHS Needs to Address Dangerous Overcrowding and Prolonged Detention of Children and Adults in the Rio Grande Valley (Redacted)”

Lights for Liberty

Deadline: July 12 (but don’t stop there!) – The struggle for liberty didn’t end on July 4 (as if we ever thought it would …) On July 12, 2019, thousands of people across the country will pour into the streets and into their own front yards to protest the inhumane conditions faced by migrants as part of Lights for Liberty: A Nationwide Vigil to End Human Detention Camps.

Indivisible East Bay is proud to join the wide coalition of groups presenting Lights for Liberty events! We will co-host an event on Friday July 12 from 8 to 9 PM with Together We Will-Albany Berkeley and El Cerrito Progressives. Gather at the University Avenue Pedestrian Bridge over Interstate 80, Berkeley. Please bring a candle for the vigil – we will have a few. Large signs are preferred so cars on the freeway can read them until it gets dark. Signs should reflect the inhumane conditions of refugees, detentions, and camps. After dark, we will light our candles against this darkness in our country.

The vigil will occur on the pedestrian crossing over I-80, not on University Avenue. Parking options: there’s a dirt parking lot on West Frontage Road, just south of University Ave. From there, you can walk or roll up to the pedestrian bridge. There’s also a little parking on the east side of I-80, near the Berkeley Animal Services building.

Can’t make our event? You’ve got a LOT more choices of events in the East Bay and San Francisco (most on Friday, July 12, a few on Saturday, July 13). Find a local event here and keep checking as more are being added. Or organize one of your own!

Graphic by Lights for Liberty

Show UP for immigrant justice!

Updated July 3, 2019: We had a great, spirited protest in El Cerrito on June 29 – nearly 200 people showed up to chant, sing, hold signs and banners, and take direct action to fight for immigrant justice. El Cerrito mayor Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto also spoke about El Cerrito’s Sanctuary City status, reaffirming that “families belong together.”

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There are many ways you can keep fighting — see the section below, “More Ways You Can Help.” 

Deadline: ongoing – Raise your voice LOUD AND CLEAR for immigrant justice! Join members of Indivisible East Bay, El Cerrito Shows Up, El Cerrito Progressives (ECP), and many others, from noon to 2 PM on Saturday June 29, 2019, at our protest in El Cerrito – part of the nationwide call for events by Immigrant Justice Now (formerly Families Belong Together). RSVP here, and please spread the link!

From “zero tolerance” to the detention of over 15,000 refugee children, current immigration policies are cruel, inhumane, and unjustified, and we MUST reject them. Families and individuals fleeing dangerous conditions have the right to seek asylum in our country. It has been nearly a year since we rallied and marched in over 60 cities to protest family separation, and things have only gotten worse. We have to keep the pressure up!

We’ll gather at the west entrance to El Cerrito Plaza, outside the Daiso Store at the busy intersection of San Pablo Ave. and Carlson Ave. Join us in songs, slogans, and solidarity! We’ll hold a peaceful, family-friendly, visible direct action, with signs and banners to bring this issue to life for passersby and drivers. We’ll also hand out info on actions people can take. Bring a sign – check out this chant list for ideas.

More ways you can help:

Read our recent articles about immigration: