Rallies, Rocking & Rainbows!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rock the Congress conference, photo by Andrea Lum

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photographs by Andrea Lum

Don’t deport people getting lifesaving care

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

What you can do:

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

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

  • Read the powerful letter spearheaded by CA-11 Representative DeSaulnier and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley (news about the termination letters was first broken by Boston media). The August 30 letter to the heads of DHS, ICE, and USCIS, condemning the cruel action and raising critical questions, was signed by over 100 Members of Congress including Senators Feinstein and Harris and Reps. DeSaulnier and Lee.
  • Rep. DeSaulnier  and Senator Kamala Harris have been actively pursuing avenues that might allow Isabel and her family to remain in the US, including sending a letter asking Acting DHS Secretary McAleenan to reconsider the decision.
  • On September 3, Rep. DeSaulnier also introduced a private bill to allow Isabel to remain in the country.  The legislation, H.R. 4225, would provide Isabel and her family with permanent resident status so they can remain without fear of removal.
  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

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

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

640 Migrant Rights Rally hayward sept 6 flyer

More information:

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

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

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

 

Ann Daniels and Heidi Rand contributed to this article

Photograph of Isabel Bueso by Garvin Tso

Rep. Swalwell’s community forum on ending gun violence & domestic terrorism

By Ward Kanowsky

Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) held a standing room only town hall meeting dedicated solely to the issue of gun violence at Hayward City Hall on August 7, 2019. During his opening comments at the “Community Forum on Ending Gun Violence & Domestic Terrorism,” Swalwell said he had just met with the heads of various law enforcement agencies, including local police departments, state operations, and the FBI, to discuss the threat assessment of gun violence primarily from white nationalist organizations, and the readiness of law enforcement. The feedback he received is that the threat level is high; he also has confidence that first responders in the law enforcement community are ready in the event of another shooting.

Notwithstanding this confidence, Swalwell emphasized that Congress needs to respond legislatively, and it needs to do so in the short term. Most importantly, he said that the background checks bill (H.R. 1112), which has passed the House, must be voted on by the Senate now, even if that means calling the entire body back into session from the current recess. (Read our recent article on this issue, with a call to action, here.) In response to a question from the audience about Senator Mitch McConnell blocking any efforts for such a vote, Swalwell called on one of the Senators now running for president to stand up and filibuster for a vote.

Other steps Rep. Swalwell urged to address ongoing gun violence are changes to laws on domestic terrorism and banning and buying back the 15 million assault weapons now in the hands of Americans. He noted that, with the recent tragedies in El Paso and Dayton and the NRA being “on the ropes,” the ban/buyback proposal continues to gain traction among the Democratic presidential candidates: former VP Joe Biden, Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg are all open to or have come out in support of such a program. [Editor’s note: see this August 10 ABC News article for more information about where the 2020 Democratic candidates stand on gun control; and Politico’s web page, currently updated to August 14, with candidates’ views on gun control].

During the hour-plus Q&A session, constituents and others were able to express their views and concerns on the issue of gun violence and offer additional ideas for reducing the number of shootings. A teacher bluntly stated that ”more kids are afraid of dying at school.” Swalwell acknowledged these fears and reiterated the importance of getting guns off the streets, as opposed to proposals like arming teachers that would make a bad situation worse. A student from Baylor University in Texas proposed raising the minimum age to buy guns, while another attendee suggested a federal tax on firearms. Swalwell was open to both of these ideas. In response to one constituent’s proposal that the Second Amendment be repealed, Swalwell disagreed, and said we need to do a better job of interpreting the Amendment.

Addressing gun violence was the signature issue of Swalwell’s brief run for president and it remains a top priority for him as a member of Congress.

If you have questions or want to participate with the CA-15 team, contact Ward on Slack at @ward or by email at wardkanowsky@gmail.com

Ward Kanowsky is co-lead, with LeAnn Kanowsky, of the Indivisible East Bay CA-15 Team.

Photograph of Rep. Swalwell by LeAnn Kanowsky

Let it shine: Thanks to Rep. Swalwell for backing GND

By Alan Marling

On March 7, Indivisible East Bay projected a big thank you – literally – to Representative Eric Swalwell for backing the Green New Deal. That night, a group of IEB members visited Hayward City Hall and a building downtown on Foothill Boulevard to shine their gratitude. The Green New Deal (GND) resolution, introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the House, and by Sen. Edward Markey in the Senate, is bold, intended to stop climate change and restart our economy with a just transition to a better future. Rep. Swalwell showed vision and leadership in backing the resolution, and IEB wanted to let him know that we have his back.

Projection is an exciting new form of free speech, painting buildings with light without causing any lasting change to them. You can see more political images and video projected around the Bay Area at this Resistance SF facebook page.

The group is on the lookout for more interesting places to project their thanks in CA-15, Rep. Swalwell’s district. Have ideas, or want to participate with IEB’s CA-15 team? Contact Ward on IEB’s Slack at @ward or by email at wardkanowsky@gmail.com.

Read our recent articles for info and background about the Green New Deal, and actions you can take NOW to support it:

Alan Marling is a local activist and writer who uses light to project resistance art.

Photographs by Charles Moehle, of Pro Bono Photography, and Alan Marling