Border to border with love to defund hate

On September 10, volunteers gathered to assemble a giant pro-immigrant, anti-hate collage as part of Indivisible East Bay’s participation in Defund Hate Week. Coordinated by the Defund Hate Campaign, a group of immigration advocacy and immigrant-led organizations, the overarching goal was to put our Members of Congress on notice and remind them we will hold them accountable to fight the administration’s anti-immigrant agenda.

For our IEB event — one of over 150 organized! — we chose to create artwork comprised of messages about defunding hate and welcoming immigrants. Our plan – to collect the messages into a collage that we’d send to the border to be added to a Defund Hate petition addressed to Congressional Democrats. 

Our collage came together quickly as participants arrived and got to work.

Defund Hate collage party, organizers Amelia and Fionap, hoto by Ted Lam
Organizers Amelia & Fiona, at Defund Hate collage party, photo by Ted Lam

Submissions ranged from personal written messages to three-dimensional construction paper creations.

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Highlights included paper cranes originally collected to be placed on the gates of a migrant detention camp in Dilley, Texas, as part of a peaceful protest by survivors of Japanese internment camps and their relatives.

Defund Hate collage, photo by Fiona Woods
Defund Hate collage, photo by Fiona Woods

There were also great submissions from the staff of 1951 Coffee, the local non-profit cafe that provides barista training to the refugee community. There was so much art we had to add an extra panel to the original banner to fit everything!

In between creating submissions for the banner, we also wrote postcards to our Members of Congress in support of Defund Hate Week’s goals. We urged our MoCs to cut funding for ICE and CBP, to vote to reject bills that include funds transfers to ICE, and to support deportation alternatives while opposing dangerous “third-country agreements”. 

We mailed our banner on Weds., September 11, and it reached San Diego in time for the Defund Hate rally there on Friday — the culmination of Defund Hate Week.

A very special thank you to the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers for graciously allowing us to use their space to create our collage, and to all of the volunteers (including some highly creative kids!) who contributed beautiful submissions.

Join us for Defund Hate Week!

Immigrant families are under an all-out assault: from caging children and families at the border and refusing them access to basic necessities like showers and toothbrushes, to launching raids that rip people away from homes where they’ve lived for years or even decades. Fueled by racism, hatred, and fear, the Trump administration has continued to pursue these unpopular and harmful policies – and Congress has continued to fund each and every one. As an official member of the Defund Hate Coalition, Indivisible East Bay stands with immigrant families to focus our collective power on defunding hate. 

Now, IEB is collecting creative messages from Bay Area members and allies to put together into a collage which we’ll add to a Border to Border with Love Petition, addressed to Congressional Democrats, as it makes its way down the West Coast to San Diego. There, we’ll get together with Native, Indivisible and local leaders for a rally to #DefundHate. Join us in this project! And keep reading to find out about more activities going on during Defund Hate Week, September 9-13.

What you can do:

Create a message!

Create your own messages to add to our collage! This action is both about defunding hate (specifically Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection) and celebrating and welcoming immigration – feel free to focus your piece on either or both. 

The only requirements are that the piece must be:

  1. six inches or smaller and flat
  2. made of paper or an equally light substance
  3. On-message: pro-immigrant and anti-hate!

Possible messages might include how immigration enforcement affects you personally, or our demands for Congressional action. For example:

  • Cut funding for ICE and CBP
  • Vote NO on any Department of Homeland Security funding bill that doesn’t prohibit funding transfers to ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (see our article)
  • Vote NO on any DHS funding bill that doesn’t cut ICE and CBP funding to fiscal year 16 levels
  • Require the DHS Inspector General to monitor detention and enforcement spending and report to Congress 
  • Support alternatives to detention: close the camps and end immigration detention 
  • End the “remain in Mexico” policy and dangerous “safe third country” agreements

For more complete guidelines and talking points, look here and here

Spread the word:

Better yet, do this with your friends and families! Create cards with like-minded coworkers during lunch, or bring some paper and markers to your book club or your kid’s soccer game. Be sure to collect contributors’ email addresses on a separate sheet so we can send everyone a photo of the final product!

Drop off pieces for the collage:

  • Any time (during open hours) before noon on Tuesday 9/10, leave your pieces in our drop box at the Rockridge branch of 1951 Coffee at 6021 College Ave, Oakland.
  • Any time (during open hours) before noon on Tuesday 9/10, leave your pieces in our drop box at Sports Basement Berkeley, 2727 Milvia St, Berkeley
  • Bring them to our special event on September 10 in Oakland (see below)!

Defund Hate Week Events:

  • Come to our main event: Tuesday, September 10, 5:30-7:30 PM at IFPTE Local 21, 1440 Broadway, Suite 610, Oakland, CA – we’ll be assembling the collage, writing postcards, and learning about other actions we can take. RSVP appreciated, but not required; we’d love to have you help out at the event, too!
  • Find us at Oakland Pride on Sunday, Sept. 8 (details and RSVP). 
  • Call your Member of Congress on the Defund Hate Call-In Day, September 9. Call script and details here.
  • Participate in Indivisible SF’s Defund Hate National Week of Action event, Friday September 13 in the plaza near the Ferry Building in SF.

Defund Hate

And also… 

  • Want to help us get this project to its destination? Please consider chipping in a few dollars toward priority shipping costs. You can donate cash at any of our events, or use our secure ActBlue online donation site.
  • A huge thank you to our partners and the organizations helping us make this project happen:
    • 1951 Coffee, founded in 2015, is a non-profit specialty coffee organization that promotes the well-being of the refugee community in the United States by providing job training and employment to refugees, asylees, and special immigrant visa holders while educating the surrounding community about refugee life and issues. You can support them by buying a cup of coffee in their cafes, buying or gifting their merchandise and whole bean coffees online, donating to support their services like the Barista Training Program, or volunteering at one of their open houses.
    • Sports Basement, Berkeley is hosting one of our drop boxes, and has hosted so many of our other meetings. If you shop there, please mention IEB and thank them!
    • And thank you to the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Local 21 for letting us use their space to assemble our collage.

Fiona Woods, Ann Daniels and Amelia Cass contributed to this article

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:

 

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.

 

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

Fight DHS expanded “expedited removal” program

By Sylvia Chi

Deadline: Submit comment by September 23, 2019 –

In July 2019 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it would expand the expedited removal program. Expedited removal is a fast track process that allows low-level immigration officers to quickly deport certain non citizens who are undocumented or have committed fraud or misrepresentation. The expansion makes hundreds of thousands more people vulnerable to deportation without due process rights such as a hearing before a judge or the right to a lawyer. The nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute estimates that 260,000 to 440,000 undocumented immigrants are subject to expedited removal under this policy change. Previously, DHS could only use the expedited removal process for those detained within 100 miles of the border for less than two weeks; DHS now seeks to expand the program to apply to any undocumented person, regardless of location, who can’t prove they’ve been in the United States continuously for two years.

According to the Notice filed in the Federal Register, this expansion went into effect on July 23, 2019, and public comments on the change will be accepted through September 23, 2019. Read our instructions below on how to make your comments opposing this change.

What you can do:

Leave a comment on this form on the Federal Register website by September 23, 2019

What to say:

We’ve given some suggestions, but to make your comment as effective as possible, please write in your own voice and describe this policy’s effect on your own life and community. (Multiple comments with the same language may be discarded.) For more ideas, read the comments other people have filed.

  • I oppose the expansion of expedited removal.
  • Expedited removal violates the Fifth Amendment Due Process rights of people in the interior of the United States who have been living in the country for extended periods of time, who are entitled to meaningful process before removal from the country.
  • Expedited removal violates sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act and Administrative Procedure Act which provide that individuals have the right to counsel in removal proceedings and in compelled appearances before an agency.
  • Expanding expedited removal increases the likelihood of racial discrimination and abuses of power by immigration and border officials.
  • This expansion contributes to the Trump Administration’s campaign to marginalize immigrants and sow fear and confusion in the immigrant community.
  • This process increases the likelihood that a person who isn’t supposed to be subject to expedited removal, like a U.S. citizen, will be removed by mistake.

More information:

Unlike the normal deportation process, the expedited removal process does not allow for a hearing before an immigration judge, access to an attorney, or chance to appeal. Under expedited removal, you may be stopped and made subject to this process anywhere in the United States. Without the right to prepare and collect evidence, you must prove to the immigration officer’s “satisfaction” that you have been in the country for two years or otherwise have the legal right to be in the country. In effect, Americans – and especially, people of color – will be subject to “de facto pop-up trial[s]… using only the things in their pockets” as well as illegal stops by border officials. 

In the past, due to its abbreviated process and lack of accountability, the expedited removal process has been rife with errors, leading to the erroneous removal of U.S. citizens, green card holders, and others not eligible for expedited removal. Expedited removal also does not sufficiently protect asylum-seekers, since immigration officers have been known to improperly pressure individuals into withdrawing their asylum requests, or simply fail to ask if the individual fears persecution upon return to their home country. In addition, under expedited removal, immigration officers do not need to consider defenses against removal which would apply in immigration court.

The American Civil Liberties Union and American Immigration Council, on behalf of Make the Road New York and other organizations, have also sued to block the change. Even if the policy is blocked or rolled back, the proposal is still effective as another example of the Trump Administration’s campaign to spread fear among immigrant communities.

Sylvia Chi is an Oakland-based attorney and activist.

Photograph: Immigration Reform Leaders Arrested in Washington DC, by Nevele Otseog

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)”

A Matter of Life, Death, and the Rule of Law

Somewhere in Northern Mexico, an exhausted nine-year-old girl stumbles. She’s traveling with her maternal grandmother, her legal guardian since her mother died, but they don’t have a paper explaining that, so if they are separated at the border, she will never be reunited with her family. She’s already walked 1,100 miles, but she’s still hundreds of miles away from the U.S. border and finding out what trauma awaits her there.

But the administration isn’t satisfied with baby jails, toddlers separated from parents and forced to appear alone in court, or families who, the administration now says, won’t be sufficiently ID’ed to be reunited for two years. On April 7, Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) resigned at the request of the Baby-Jailer-in-Chief. Kevin McAleenan, whom Trump tapped for acting Secretary, has a terrible record. As head of Customs and Border Protection, McAleenan defended his agency’s use of tear gas on children and families. He also repeatedly broke the law to implement Trump’s travel ban, and ignored the death of a seven year-old girl in CBP custody in his Congressional testimony. In a broad purge, Trump also forced the resignations of the head of the Secret Service, the director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, the DHS General Counsel, and the DHS undersecretary for management, and withdrew his nominated Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying he wanted the agency to go in a “tougher” direction. It’s hard to imagine what that could even be, in a civilized country.

What to do:

Trump will nominate a replacement DHS Secretary who will need Senate approval. Tell our Senators, NOW: Don’t approve anyone with a history of promoting, tolerating, or overlooking human rights abuses of any kind. We need someone far better than Nielsen — not someone even worse! Senator Kamala Harris was the first Senator to call for Nielsen to resign in a July 2018 statement, and she continues to speak out strongly against the family separation policy, including tweeting on April 8: “The next DHS Secretary must unequivocally denounce this abusive policy. We deserve better.” Senator Dianne Feinstein, however, has only expressed sympathy for the “thankless” task performed by Nielsen and the “hope” that McAleenan will be “able to propose and implement more sensible, humane and bipartisan solutions to the problems we face” — a hope that appears to have no foundation in reality.

What to say:

For Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Senator Harris for speaking out against the family separation policy that former DHS Secretary Nielsen oversaw. I hope that when the nominee for Nielsen’s replacement is in confirmation hearings, Senator Harris will do everything possible to prevent the confirmation of anyone with a history of promoting, tolerating, or overlooking human rights abuses of any kind. We need someone far better than Nielsen — not someone even worse!

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

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m concerned that Senator Feinstein has spoken sympathetically about former DHS Secretary Nielsen and Acting DHS Secretary McAleenan, and hasn’t spoken out about the abuses they have perpetrated. I hope that when the nominee for Nielsen’s replacement is in confirmation hearings, Senator Feinstein will do everything possible to prevent the confirmation of anyone with a history of promoting, tolerating, or overlooking human rights abuses of any kind. We need someone far better than Nielsen — not someone even worse!

More info:

Kirstjen Nielsen presided over implementation of the administration’s April 2018 “zero tolerance policy” to deter migrants, separating families and caging the children to deter others from seeking asylum. She then lied to Congress about it, saying, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” Thousands of children have been separated from their parents, and the government has missed several court-imposed deadlines for reuniting families, conceding that it has failed to keep records and claiming that as a result it may take over two years to reunite them—or will never reunite them, in the case of refugees traveling with legal guardians.

After public outcry and a series of adverse court decisions, the zero-tolerance policy was rescinded by executive order, but family separations have continued. Even more troubling, because refugees keep coming, the Scofflaw-in-Chief now wants immigration officials to stop following U.S. statutes and court orders and instead to close the southern borders to asylum—or to close it entirely, to everyone, with the resulting enormous economic disruption. At the border recently, he instructed agents to refuse to follow court orders and to say instead, “sorry, Judge, I can’t do it.” He reportedly fired Nielsen because she opposed his requested actions as counterproductive and against the law and applicable court orders.

The new DHS Secretary must be required to commit to follow — and must actually follow — applicable statutes and court orders, not just the whims of the President. By the time she reaches our borders, it would be good if the nine-year-old Guatemalan girl still found a country with the rule of law.

Photograph: “Women Disobey protest against US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy separating children and families at the US/Mexico border,” copyright Sarahmirk

Tell our MoCs: no raiding the budget for wall funding

Our Members of Congress have been consistent opponents of Trump’s efforts to increase militarization of our country’s southern border. But on February 14, all of them other than Senator Kamala Harris voted for H.J. Res. 31, providing $1.375 billion for border “fencing,” rejecting Democrats’ demands to limits on funding for immigrant detention funding for ICE, and – perhaps most dangerously – setting no bounds on Trump’s ability to take funds granted to the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the Army Corps of Engineers, and use those funds instead to build his border wall.

Please thank Senator Harris and put the others on notice that now that we’ve won the House, control of immigration detention funding is not something to compromise on. Read on for more info; call scripts and contact info below.

We get it – no one wanted to be responsible for another government shutdown. But as we said in our action blog post last week, the threat of shutting down the government if H.J.Res. 31 failed was a false choice, and our MoCs should not have caved to the administration’s bullying. And we can of course hope for the best but we are sincerely disappointed if any of our MoCs who voted for this plan actually believe that this administration will “ensure … the humane treatment of immigrants.”

We are thankful this is the first time since ICE was created In 2002 that a new spending bill didn’t increase its funding and that “the deal” only affects Customs and Border Patrol funding at ports of entry. But we are done settling for stopping things from getting worse. We elected a Democratic House of Representatives to make things better and going forward we expect our representatives not just to rein in, but also to cut spending on harmful immigration enforcement.

The semi-good news is that there’s always something down the road, and in this case it’s a short road. In less than three weeks, the president’s Office of Management and Budget will release the president’s budget. We expect plenty of horrible funding requests on all sorts of issues, including requests for yet more “border security” and yet more detention funding. We want our MoCs to reject these, and we want them to go further – we want them to revoke “reprogramming and transfer authority” for all agencies that Trump is commandeering for this war on immigrants and asylum seekers. Specifically, we want our MoCs to vote to prohibit Trump from taking money allocated to the Department of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense, or any other agencies, and using it for his wall and inhumane immigration policies. Congress must seriously examine why there is so much slop in the system that these agencies can have billions – in some cases over $6 billion – that can be reprogrammed and transferred, in defiance of Congressional appropriations authority.

What you can do: Contact your Members of Congress

For Sen. Kamala Harris (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for voting against H.J.Res. 31. I’m very disappointed that so many Democrats agreed to a spending deal that didn’t cut funding for detention beds and didn’t limit DHS’s ability to use money Congress designated for other purposes as a slush fund for its harmful immigration enforcement policies. I hope Senator Harris stands firm and works to make sure that next year’s bill does both those things.

For Sen. Feinstein and all three Reps:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m very disappointed that the Democrats agreed to a spending deal that didn’t cut funding for detention beds and didn’t limit DHS’s ability to use money Congress designated for other purposes as a slush fund for its harmful immigration enforcement policies. I want ______ to work to ensure that next year’s bill does both those things.

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

 

No Boots No Beds No Wall

Action Deadline – ASAP: Tell Your MoCs to Reject a Budget Deal that Expands ICE and Funds Trump’s Border Wall

As the clock ticks down to another government shutdown, negotiations on the federal budget funding deal continue, with Senate leaders saying on February 11 that they reached a tentative agreement including $1.375 billion for border “barriers,” including 55 miles of new fencing. Unacceptably, the deal also excludes Democrats’ demands to limit immigrant detention funding for ICE. House Democrats must stay strong and reject any additional funding that will allow Trump to tear more families apart.

Let’s be clear: we don’t want another shutdown. But, as Indivisible National put it:

choosing between protecting immigrants and keeping the government running is a false choice—especially with Democrats in control of the House. This bill goes too far in fueling Trump’s deportation force, even if it technically doesn’t have funding for a concrete wall. Congress still has time to pass a clean, year-long continuing resolution (CR), that would keep the government open, and that wouldn’t expand Trump’s deportation machine any further.

Please tell your Members of Congress that we demand a bill that keeps the government open with NO new funding for:

  • Beds: In two years, Trump has dramatically expanded the number of immigrants being incarcerated. In President Obama’s last year in office, 34,000 immigrants were in ICE detention. Now the number is close to 50,000—far above the 40,500 for which Congress had authorized funding. How can ICE detain more people than Congress has authorized? Because DHS uses their transfer and reprogramming authority to effectively steal money from other programs, such as FEMA, to jail more immigrant families. It is Congress’s responsibility to end this financial shell game and add strict limits on DHS Secretary’s transfer and reprogramming authority.
  • Boots: Negotiators are considering giving Trump more Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents. Don’t be fooled. HSI agents are ICE agents — and funding for HSI agents is funding for Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. ICE HSI agents conduct highly militarized worksite raids. The National Immigration Law Center has a great resource with more information on HSI agents here. Congress must NOT increase HSI’s funding — it must cut it and prohibit HSI from arresting workers, while conducting this type of “papers, please” enforcement. 
  • Trump’s racist wall: Negotiators are currently considering including $1.375 billion for border wall funding, which will devastate local communities, as private land is seized using eminent domain, just so Trump can fulfill his hateful campaign promise to build his racist wall along the southern border. It’s critical to keep up the pressure on our Members of Congress and tell them NOT ONE PENNY for Trump’s hateful wall. There must also a policy rider to prevent Trump from using an emergency declaration to transfer and reprogram Defense Dept funding for wall construction. 

 

What you can do:

Call to Action: Ask your senators and House rep to reject any funding deal that expands ICE’s power, funds Trump’s border wall, and maintains DHS’s ability to “reprogram” money to ICE.

What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m asking ____ to reject the current working budget deal in favor of a bill that keeps the government open with NO new funding for increased detention beds, additional ICE agents, or Trump’s racist wall. Please don’t give in to threats of a shutdown and don’t let our country be held hostage. Please support ONLY a clean budget deal, and place strict limits on reprogramming and transfer authority!

Senators (please call both):

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

House of Representatives (please call your Rep only):

  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11_: (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13): (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15): (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

Hugs, not tear gas!

Outraged by the administration’s inhumane and illegal treatment of refugees seeking asylum at our southern border, the East Bay turned out in force on Saturday, December 1, 2018 at several hastily-planned protests called by the national group Families Belong Together.  

Governance Committee member and CA-11 team lead Ted Lam reports on the noon rally in El Cerrito:

Thirty people, including families with children, gathered at a busy intersection at El Cerrito Plaza at the Stop the Tears protest organized by El Cerrito Progressives’ Sherry Drobner. People held signs – including forming a human billboard spelling out STOP T-H-E-T-E-A-R-S – and enthusiastically chanted “Let them Pass, No Tear Gas” and “Refugees families under attack, This is illegal, Stand up and fight back!”

Stop the Tears protest in El Cerrito, photo by Ted Lam
Stop the Tears protest in El Cerrito, photo by Ted Lam

The pedestrians and motorists streaming by were very supportive, with many honking  in approval. The one-hour event passed too quickly but we felt good at speaking out loud and clear against the administration’s inhumane actions. 

Governance Committee member and volunteer team lead Andrea Lum reports on the San Leandro protest, which she organized with GC member and IEB treasurer Gina Clinton:

Stop the Tears protest in San Leandro
Stop the Tears protest in San Leandro

The day started off rainy and stormy but ended in cheers, honks and waves at our small but mighty protest on the corner of Memorial Park in San Leandro, As the sun came out, our trio was joined by a mother and son, and another person outraged by the tear gassing of families at the border. Seven people on a rainy Saturday – we call that a win!

Didn’t make it to a protest? There’s still much you can do to help fight. See our article with information, a call script, and contact info to make sure that your elected representatives speak out and do all they can.