Drag PG&E into the light

By Ann G. Daniels

Deadline: December 13 and keep the pressure on –

Dear readers, as we go into yet another damn PG&E power shutoff we hope that wherever you normally read our blog posts has power and that you are safe and warm and illuminated. And speaking of illuminated – it’s about time we shed some light on why we’re having to do without electricity in this highly technologically advanced State in this highly technologically advanced country, don’t you think? 

On November 13, 2019, the California Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to do just that. The plan is to prevent catastrophic fires in the future, and to call PG&E to account for their behavior to date – behavior that has led to depriving millions of Californians of power while not preventing wildfires. All of the state’s utility companies must report to the CPUC by December 13. And the CPUC has already imposed “sanctions,” which are actually instructions to comply with procedures to improve its approach to planned power outages.

What you can do:

In the context of the ongoing investigation of PG&E, tell our state legislators you want PG&E to be thoroughly investigated, punished as appropriate, and made to put their customers and California residents, rather than their shareholders, first. Tell them:

  • Support and insist on a thorough investigation of PG&E, including their: 
    • Causing wildfires through failure to maintain their infrastructure
    • Failure to work with local governments
    • Failure to communicate properly and coherently with their customers
    • Unnecessarily, dangerously and repeatedly depriving customers of power while still failing to prevent fires from their equipment
  • Support legislation that adequately protects California residents and PG&E consumers, by, among other things:
    • Imposing specific requirements on utilities to protect the public from wildfires
    • Removing barriers to municipalization
    • Providing a pathway to energy security
    • Providing access to relevant documents and information
    • Protecting consumers from financial hardship while shareholders benefit
    • For more information on this subject, see the letter concerning AB 1054 that IEB signed on to in September, 2019.
  • Support actual sanctions for wrongdoing, not merely instructions for new procedures

What to say:

My name is ___________, my zip code is __________, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask ______ to support a thorough investigation of PG&E. Any investigation needs to include their role in the state’s wildfires, their failure to work with local governments, their horrible communication with their customers, and their putting us in the dark and at risk. I hope that _____________ will support sanctions for the things that PG&E has done wrong – not just a slap on the wrist or a list of things they need to change. We should be PG&E’s priority, and I hope _____ will do whatever it takes, including supporting legislation that protects California residents and PG&E consumers above PG&E shareholders, to make that happen.

Assembly:

  • Buffy Wicks: email; District: 510-286-1400; Capitol: 916-319-2015
  • Rob Bonta: email; District: 510-286-1670; Capitol: 916-319-2018
  • Rebecca Bauer-Kahan: email; Capitol (handles legislative calls): 916-319-2016
  • Bill Quirk: Capitol: 916-319-2020; District 510-583-8818

Senate: 

  • Steve Glazer, District 7 (Contra Costa): email; 916-651-4007; Orinda 925-258-1176; Antioch 925-754-1461
  • Nancy Skinner, District 9 (Alameda & Contra Costa): email; 916-651-4009, Oakland 510-286-1333
  • Bob Wieckowski, District 10 (Alameda & Santa Clara): email; 916-651-4010, Fremont 510-794-3900

Don’t know who your state representatives are, or have friends outside the East Bay? Find legislators and their contact info here: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/


Light bulb, photograph by Nguyễn Tự Khanh

Ann G. Daniels’ checkered professional background includes practicing law, reproductive rights advocacy, creating web content for nonprofits and educational organizations, and teaching adult and family literacy. She also designs jewelry, teaches knitting, and sings second soprano.

Newest food aid attack – making cold people go hungry

By Ann G. Daniels

Deadline: comments due December 2 –

If it feels like you’ve read something here before about the Grinch-in-Chief trying to cut back on food aid to this nation’s needy … it’s because you have. We’ve been writing about this time and time and time and time again, because they keep trying. So far, Congress keeps rejecting these efforts, but it’s obviously a priority of this administration. Now they’re at it again – and now it’s winter, and the new proposal will primarily affect people who live in places where it’s cold, so they can be both cold and hungry. You have until December 2 to submit your comments to try to keep this Dickensian plot twist from becoming reality.

What you can do:

Submit comments before December 2 by going to the comment site at https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=FNS-2019-0009-0001. If that doesn’t work, go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FNS-2019-0009 and click the blue button that says “COMMENT NOW.” You can look at other people’s comments here for ideas for what to say, and you can also get ideas from the bullet points below, but please use your own words – duplicate comments may be discarded. 

More info:

It’s a little convoluted, but here’s the bottom line: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) regulations provide food aid based on income, and income is determined based on, among other things, expenses – including how much people spend on heating and cooling. For decades, rather than make people actually show how much they spend, states have provided month by month estimates that the Agriculture Department has taken into account. Under the new proposal, the Agriculture Department would instead “standardize the methodology for calculating standard utility allowances … The new methodology would set … the heating and cooling standard utility allowance (HCSUA), at the 80th percentile of low-income households’ utility costs in the State.” In other words, the new plan will get rid of states’ ability to determine, and have flexibility in determining, what it costs to keep from suffering from cold or heat, because the administration thinks that under the current plan too many people are getting help.

How this breaks down – some ideas you can use in your comments:

  • The proposed plan would cut benefits for 19% of households on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps, while increasing benefits for 16%. 
  • The average loss in benefits would be $31 a month. The average gain would be $13 a month. Households could lose as much as $75 per month, or gain up to $33.
  • Almost 8,000 households would lose benefits entirely. 
  • Cold northern states would be most affected by the proposed change to how heating costs are calculated. In other words, people who will be cold during the winter will now also go hungry.
  • The food stamp program kept over 3 million people out of poverty in 2018.
  • The proposal would save $4.5 billion from the SNAP program over five years, or less than $1 billion per year on average. The SNAP program cost $68 billion in 2018 alone – in other words, the proposed change would cause a lot of suffering to save a fraction of the cost. 

Photograph “Hungry, Broke, Cold and Old” by Travis Wise

Ann G. Daniels’ checkered professional background includes practicing law, reproductive rights advocacy, creating web content for nonprofits and educational organizations, and teaching adult and family literacy. She also designs jewelry, teaches knitting, and sings second soprano.

Stephen Miller must go!

By Heidi Rand

Deadline: Right away, stop the hate –

Thanks to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s November 12, 2019 Hatewatch report revealing over 900 emails from White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller to Breitbart editors in 2015 and 2016, we’ve gained valuable if horrifying insight into Miller’s hate-filled mind. Miller is the architect behind the administration’s cruelest anti-immigrant policies, including Trump’s Muslim travel ban and family separation policy. The emails are ugly — Miller repeatedly espouses white nationalist beliefs and vilifies communities of color and immigrants — but we owe it to those communities to not look away.

Quickly following the release of the emails, civil rights groups called for Miller to be fired, and lawmakers called for him to resign. On November 14, leaders of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressional Progressive Caucus called for Miller’s resignation in a joint statement, including this:

It’s clearer than ever that Stephen Miller is a far-right white nationalist with a racist and xenophobic worldview. His beliefs are appalling, indefensible, and completely at odds with public service. . .  .  As documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Stephen Miller has embedded himself in white nationalist doctrine for years, including promoting racist propaganda from fringe sites like VDARE and InfoWars. And as the chief architect of the Muslim Ban and cruel family separation policies, Stephen Miller has spent the last three years turning his bigotry into policy — with President Trump’s blessing.

As of November 15, Huffington Post reported that it had contacted the offices of all 435 members of the House of Representatives to ask whether Miller should resign; more than 80, all Democrats, said he should. Of our three East Bay Representatives, only Barbara Lee (CA-13) appeared on the list. However, Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) spoke out publicly on November 19, and HuffPo will likely issue an updated list. And on November 21, more than 100 House Members, including Lee and DeSaulnier, signed a letter to Trump, formally requesting that Miller be removed. We are surprised that Eric Swalwell (CA-15) is not on HuffPo’s list, and that he did not sign the November 21 letter — and to date we have not found any public statements by Swalwell, or by Senators Feinstein or Harris, demanding that Miller resign or be fired.

What you can do now:

Thank Representatives Lee and DeSaulnier for calling for Miller’s removal, and urge our other Members of Congress to do so as well, ASAP.

What to say if your Representative is Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) or Barbara Lee (CA-13):

My name is ___, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Stephen Miller represents white nationalism and supremacy, violent extremism, and hate, and it’s long past time for him to be removed from the White House. Thank you for publicly stating that he should resign. Please continue to demand that he should resign or be fired. 

What to say if your Representative is Eric Swalwell (CA-15); and for all Californians, to Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris:

My name is ___, my zip code is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Stephen Miller represents white nationalism and supremacy, violent extremism, and hate, and it’s long past time for him to be removed from the White House. Please join many other Members of Congress in demanding that he resign or be fired. 

  • 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

Do you live outside California, or have friends or family in other states? Check whether your Rep. is included in HuffPost’s list. You can find contact info for your Members of Congress at https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials. Or call the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121, ask to be transferred to your MoCs, and say this:

My name is ___, my zip code is ______. Stephen Miller represents white nationalism and supremacy, violent extremism, and hate, and it’s long past time for him to be removed from the White House. Please join many other Members of Congress in demanding that he resign or be fired. 

After you contact your MoCs:

We don’t often list petitions, but these would be effective if you want to add your name:

  • The SPLC petition reads: “Stephen Miller clearly believes that immigrants of color are a danger to our country and should not be allowed in — a white supremacist idea that’s become the Trump administration’s policy. He has no business in the White House.”
  • Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s petition demands Miller’s immediate resignation.


Photograph “Stephen Miller, Trump’s Refugee-Refusing, Baby-Snatching Policy Chief” by Mike Licht

Heidi Rand fights the evil empire with skills gained as a Ninth Circuit staff attorney and civil rights lawyer, using words to resist, and to inform and inspire others to take action.

Support immigrants’ path to permanent residency

By Heidi Rand

Deadline: Act NOW & join Nov. 19 rally – 

Join immigrants and their allies in fighting for a pathway to permanent residency for over a million longtime U.S. residents who are at risk of losing their legal status under the Trump administration’s attacks on programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).

The El Cerrito City Council will hear and vote on a proclamation titled “In Support of Protections from Deportation and a Path to Permanent Residency for Beneficiaries of DACA, TPS and DED” at its November 19 meeting in City Council chambers, 10890 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. The meeting begins at 7:00 PM. Read the entire draft proclamation at this pdf link. The City Council’s agenda is available at this link.

Local community organizations El Cerrito Progressives, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, and NorCal TPS Coalition will hold a rally/vigil outside City Hall before the meeting, from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. Come hear local speakers tell their stories and explain how we can all work to keep families together and our communities intact. El Cerrito Mayor Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto is also slated to speak at the beginning of the rally. Come even if you live outside of El Cerrito! TPS Coalition has been working with several cities on the issue; you can read the Berkeley City Council’s 10/15/19 resolution, “Protect from deportation and a path to permanent residency for beneficiaries of DACA, TPS, and DED,” at this pdf link.  

What you can do now:

Even if you can’t make it to the rally and hearing, both the El Cerrito and Berkeley resolutions include a call to action you can take now!

The resolutions endorse the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6), which the House passed on June 4, 2019, to “provide protections from deportation and offer a well-earned path to permanent residency to hardworking people who have played by the rules for decades.” The Moscow Mitch McConnell-controlled Senate, however, has not acted, so we need to urge Senators Feinstein and Harris to do all they can to get the Senate to pass similar protections and a path to permanent residency, and to take leadership in fighting for protections from deportation and a path to permanent residency.

What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code  is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please do all you can in the Senate to fight for protections from deportation and a path to permanent residency for longtime residents, including pushing for a similar bill to H.R. 6, which the House passed on June 4, 2019. I’m counting on Senator ____ to be a leader in fighting against the Trump administration’s racist anti-immigration policies.

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

Do you live outside California, or have friends or family in other states? Use this link to find contact info for your Senators: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials. Or call the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121, ask to be transferred to your Senator, and say this:

Hello, my name is ____ and my zip code is _____. Please do all you can in the Senate to fight for protections from deportation and a path to permanent residency for longtime residents, including pushing for a similar bill to H.R. 6, which the House passed on June 4, 2019. I hope Senator ____ will be a leader in fighting against the Trump administration’s racist anti-immigration policies.

Want to learn more? The Berkeley City Council resolution is fully annotated with articles and sources. And for more info about how to get YOUR local city or town government to consider a similar resolution, email Karl Kramer at NorCalTPS@gmail.com 

Heidi Rand fights the evil empire with skills gained as a Ninth Circuit staff attorney and civil rights lawyer, using words to resist, and to inform and inspire others to take action. 

“Support a Pathway for Permanent Residency,” flyer by El Cerrito Progressives

November AMM: potluck, postcards, more!

Event date: All Members Meeting Nov. 24

Don’t miss Indivisible East Bay’s November All Members Meeting! The party’s happening in the Community Room, on the first floor at Sports Basement, Berkeley, on Sunday, November 24, from 1 to 3 PM. And we do mean party — as is our tradition, we’ll have a potluck, so please bring food or drink to share if you can (though we’ll ask you to leave alcohol at home, as Sports Basement, our host, doesn’t allow it). If you plan to attend, please RSVP here. And bring friends — this is a fun, low-key way to introduce them to IEB! 

We’ll celebrate the good news out of the Virginia and Kentucky elections, recap our Virginia electoral work and strategy, and start to look ahead to our plans for the 2020 election. We’d love to hear your thoughts as we shape our plans and priorities on these topics. 

AMM 2020 electoral work survey, photo by Heidi Rand
AMM 2020 electoral work survey

And it wouldn’t be an AMM without direct action! We’ll write postcards for Reclaim Our Vote, a non-partisan organization working to register voters of color in states where voter suppression is high. Our cards will go to voters in Texas to remind them that their voter registrations may have lapsed. We’ll also write VoteForward letters to likely Democratic voters, including registration forms and short personal statements about why WE vote. And we’ll continue our work to create and record a model impeachment hearing  – more info on this here. This time, we’ll be holding a participatory side activity to act out and record parts of the hearing. If you’re interested in participating, bring a suit jacket, if you have one!

So: food, good fellowship, and action — what more could you want? Oh yeah, we’ll still have some IEB rainbow design t-shirts for purchase!

New IEB rainbow tshirts
IEB rainbow t-shirts

IEB’s All Members Meetings are on the fourth Sunday of every month unless a holiday interferes. Note we’re NOT having an AMM in December, but mark your calendar for the first one of ’20 — that’s January 26, 2020. In the meantime, please join us online where we do our planning and organizing — email info@indivisibleeb.org for an invite. 

Photographs by Heidi Rand

 

 

 

 

Menashi: Unfit to sit

By Ann G. Daniels

The bad news: Steven Menashi, nominated to the super-important Second Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, thinks it’s “obvious” that Western culture, government, science, etc. is superior to everything else, especially everything Muslim; was a top legal advisor on Betsy DeVos’ plan to protect for-profit colleges that ripped off their students; and has denounced feminists, LGBTQ+ rights, and diversity efforts. The good news: he’s so bad that even Sen. Susan Collins has said she’ll oppose him, and his supporters in the administration and the Senate repeatedly had to postpone the Senate Judiciary Committee vote on his nomination before the Committee passed the nomination 12-10 on party lines on November 7. The bad news: now the nomination proceeds. And while we don’t yet have a date for the next vote, and trying to predict what the Senate will do is a little like trying to predict the future by reading chicken entrails, we have to be ready.

More good news, though: Senators Feinstein and Harris – both of whom voted no in the Senate Judiciary Committee – have already spoken out on this appalling nominee. And there’s a chance that Sen. Collins and other Republicans will cross party lines when the full Senate votes.

Senator Feinstein has expressed her concerns about Menashi’s “role at the White House” and his lack of disclosure about his work there, including on issues including family separation; and about his work under Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education’s efforts to reverse sexual assault protections, use federal funds to buy guns for teachers, and reverse attempts to crack down on deceptive for-profit colleges. She has also expressed deep concern over his racist statements, since a judge – especially in an area as diverse as that governed by the Second Circuit – must be impartial toward all who come before him

Similarly, Senator Harris has stressed that Menashihas refused to answer questions” about his work in the White House or whether he was “involved in Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Zelensky,” and she has also cited his work for Betsy DeVos on “predatory for-profit colleges.” She finds his nomination “Unacceptable.” 

We agree. As the NAACP so eloquently says: “Steven Menashi has a vile, offensive record … Under no scenario should he sit in Thurgood Marshall’s former seat on the Second Circuit and preside in the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse.”

What to do:

Please thank our Senators for speaking out on this unacceptable nominee, and urge them to stand strong and keep speaking out.

What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code  is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Senator _____ for speaking out with her concerns about Steven Menashi, and I want to urge her to keep speaking out. I trust she will vote NO on Menashi’s confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals and I hope she’ll do everything possible to persuade her colleagues to vote NO. Menashi has shown that he’s hostile towards Muslims, women, the LGBTQ+ community, lower-income families, and immigrants. He cannot be trusted to fairly decide matters before the court. 

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

Do you live outside California, or have friends or family in other states? Use this link to find contact info for your Senators: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials. Or call the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121, ask to be transferred to your Senator, and say this:

Hello, my name is ____ and my zip code is _____. Please vote NO on Steven Menashi’s confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Menashi has shown that he’s hostile towards Muslims, women, the LGBTQ+ community, lower-income families, and immigrants. He cannot be trusted to fairly decide matters before the court. 

 

Ann G. Daniels’ checkered professional background includes practicing law, reproductive rights advocacy, creating web content for nonprofits and educational organizations, and teaching adult and family literacy. She also designs jewelry, teaches knitting, and sings second soprano.

“Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse”, photograph by Ken Lund

 

 

Election Security Day of Action, Plus John Oliver

Deadline: November 13 Day of Action –

We’ve written before about the state of our elections and the security, or rather the profound lack of security, of our voting machines. We’ve told you about foreign interference and the desperate need for money to actually secure our votes. We’ve mentioned that there is $600 million authorized for securing our voting machines if only it can get past the Senate, and we’ve asked you to take action on this.

But – we’re not John Oliver. He wants to ask you the same thing and he has a very funny but very serious take on voting machines. Here’s just a sampling of what you can learn from watching him explain the rickety and unstable edifice that elections in America are built on:

Having fun yet? If you have 20 minutes, you’ll be glad you watched the whole thing. Then come back here, or just read on for the important part, when we tell you what you can do about these problems.

Back? Good.

Our election systems are in dire need of upkeep and real security, and the money to make that happen is currently blocked in Congress. We need to persuade the Senators standing in the way that these funds are critical to our national security and our democracy, and that this money must be disbursed with rules in place to make sure it’s actually used to make sure we can vote without interference.

This message is not getting out, but you can amplify it to make sure it’s heard before the budget process ends for the year on Thursday November  21.

What you can do about it, by next week:

Secure Our Vote, which hosted a similar event in September, is planning a Day of Action on Wednesday November 13 to draw attention to this vote and to the Senators voting on it. You can:

  • Join an existing rally scheduled near you on November 13.
    • There’s a visit at Senator Feinstein’s office at 1 Post St., Post & Market, San Francisco, at noon.
    • RSVP to join any other rally by clicking on the Sign Up Now link below it.
    • Remember: even a few people showing up will matter!
  • Sign up to host a rally outside Senate offices on November 13.
    • You don’t have to figure out how to do it! When you sign up they’ll send you detailed instructions and support. You can also watch this very useful video (one hour) explaining how to host.
    • These don’t have to be large rallies! Even a dozen people appearing to ask about election security at each Senate office helps push this process into the light.
  • Sign up for a drop in visit with your Senators on November 12.
  • Encourage people you know to attend rallies scheduled near them.
  • Call your elected officials about election security funding, starting NOW, to build up pressure on them leading to November 13. Use the hotline at 833-413-5906 – it walks you through all the steps and makes it very easy.
  • Learn more about what you need to know to make elections safe at Secure Our Vote’s Election Security Organizing Worksheet. This is, for better and for worse, an ongoing fight. The questions they teach you to ask are critical to understanding how to help elections be safe in your districts and states.

Photo of John Oliver by Steve Jennings for TechCrunch

November 2019 debate watch party

Deadline: RSVP now, space limited –

Friends don’t let friends watch the presidential debates alone! Join Indivisible East Bay’s CA-11 Team on Wednesday, November 20, at 5:30 pm in the Scene Room of the El Cerrito Rialto Cinema, at 10070 San Pablo Ave. a few blocks from El Cerrito Plaza BART station. We’ll watch the debate, discuss the merits of the Democratic presidential candidates, enjoy food and refreshments from the theater, and learn from each other how to make sure the eventual nominee gets elected.

We’re keeping this event small so we can talk amongst ourselves (and fit around the table), but that means we need you – and your friends – to RSVP! All are welcome, not just those who live in the CA-11 district.

Got questions about the event? Want to know about IEB’s CA-11 Team and its work? Want to see what we do at our monthly meetings when the candidates aren’t debating? You can read more about the team at this January 2019 article. And contact the team at IndivisibleCA11@gmail.com or if you’re on Slack, contact @Ted Lam or @KristenL and join the moc_team_ca11 team. Want an invite to join Slack? Please drop us a line at info@indivisibleeb.org

Graphic “Debate picture” by Blok Glo

Fight forced DNA collection

By Heidi Rand; Ann G. Daniels contributed to this article

Deadline: Submit your comment by November 12, 2019 –

The Trump Department of (In)justice has unveiled yet another plan that targets the vulnerable immigrant community: this time, a rule to require the Department of Homeland Security to forcibly take DNA from immigrants in detention centers. The proposed regulation changes current implementation of the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005, removing the DHS Secretary’s discretion to opt out of taking DNA from migrant detainees “because of operational exigencies or resource limitations.” DNA taken from asylum seekers and other detained migrants, with or without consent, would be added to a massive FBI database.

The 2005 Act allows DNA to be taken from both U.S. citizens and non-citizens, with one crucial difference: U.S. citizens must be arrested for or charged with or convicted of a crime, while non-citizens – immigrants – need only be detained by a federal agency, under either civil or criminal authority. In other words: DNA can be forcibly be taken from immigrants in detention even if they’re not charged with any crime.

Speak out to decry this intrusive plan that could affect more than 740,000 people every year. Your voice is needed – to date fewer than 100 comments have been filed. Read on to learn how to make your comment.

What you can do:

Leave a comment on this form on the Federal Register website by November 12, 2019

What to say:

We’ve got suggestions, but multiple identical comments may be discarded, so make your comment as effective as possible by writing in your own voice and emphasize what’s important to you, or describe how the policy would affect your own life and community. You can get more ideas from the comments other people have filed.

  • The proposed rule violates human rights laws and raises significant privacy concerns for vulnerable populations, including asylum seekers, non-criminal detainees, those intending to immigrate, and non-immigrant visa holders and students.
  • The rule change brands migrants in federal custody as criminal, even if they aren’t in detention for any criminal activity or charged with any criminal activity, and gathers private information that can be used against them.
  • This rule unfairly treats asylum seekers and other undocumented immigrants like criminals, even if they have not been charged with any criminal activity. U.S. citizens can only have DNA taken from them if they’ve been charged with or convicted of a crime.
  • The proposed rule treats people seeking a better life or safety as threats to this country’s security.
  • This rule is an excuse to enable DHS to turn civil immigration detention into a proxy to strip these individuals of their privacy rights.
  • This is a waste of resources. As fingerprints and a thorough background check are already required, an additional invasive DNA check is unnecessary and redundant.

Finally, the ACLU is circulating a petition against this plan. You could also adapt their wording: 

Reject any policy change allowing the forced collection of DNA from immigrants in detention sites without their consent. This would hinder the privacy of immigrants and their families and set a dangerous precedent for the future, enabling mass government surveillance. 

 

Graphic: “DNA Double Helix,” National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health.

Heidi Rand fights the evil empire with skills gained as a Ninth Circuit staff attorney and civil rights lawyer, using words to resist, and to inform and inspire others to take action. She also wields a mean camera and knitting needles, though not at the same time.

Ann G. Daniels’ checkered professional background includes practicing law, reproductive rights advocacy, creating web content for nonprofits and educational organizations, and teaching adult and family literacy. She also designs jewelry, teaches knitting, and sings second soprano.

Join Tax the Rich campaign

By Nancy Latham

Help shift the public narrative on taxes and the economy!

For decades, one narrative on taxes and the economy has dominated: lower taxes are better than higher taxes. The wealthiest, claiming the title of “job creator,” make this argument most loudly. They argue that if their taxes go up, the incentives to create jobs weaken, and the economy as a whole will suffer. And then where would we be?

Possibly somewhere much better. As it is, declining taxes have brought growing inequality in their wake:

Source: Piketty, T., Saez, E., and Zucman, G. 2018. “Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics. Vol. 133, No. 2.

 

Source: Piketty, T., Saez, E., and Zucman, G. 2018. “Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics. Vol. 133, No. 2.

Things are great for those at the top, but not so much for the rest of us. It’s time to face the fact that half a century of anti-tax orthodoxy is wrong. Low taxes on corporations and the wealthy don’t encourage job creation. On the contrary, since the payoff is so high, low taxes encourage the rich to extract wealth from the economy, rather than to invest. 

In short, it’s time we all start to recognize that taxing the rich will be good for the economy: it will result in more investment and more widely shared prosperity. Taxing the rich is also extraordinarily popular among the general public. Even so – or perhaps in an attempt to fight these facts? – the elite narrative around taxes remains the same as it always was: tax cuts will boost the economy. This tired idea was trotted out for the 2017 Trump tax cut. Let’s give it a long overdue farewell. 

What you can do:

The Tax March Organization has been working to shift the narrative about taxes since early in 2019, with its Tax the Rich campaign. And they’re bringing the campaign to San Francisco! That’s your cue to join the Tax March in front of City Hall for a press conference to lift up the voices of local activists and experts, reminding policymakers that we can help the economy – and our communities – by taxing the rich. 

  • WHEN: Wednesday November 6, 2019 at 11 AM
  • WHERE: San Francisco City Hall
  • WHAT YOU DO: Sign up here, come and bring your friends, and help build a new narrative about the relationship between taxes and prosperity!

For more info about the Tax March organization, read our article about the group and the training it held in April 2019. If you’re not in the SF Bay Area, or can’t make it to the press conference, join our fight for economic justice by signing up here.

Graphs source: Piketty, T., Saez, E., and Zucman, G. 2018. “Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics. Vol. 133, No. 2.

Nancy Latham is on IEB’s Governance Committee, and is a passionate member of the Resistance. In her day job, she works with non-profits, foundations, and government agencies that support greater equity and justice through initiatives in youth development, education, housing, and community development.