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

IEB meeting with Rep. DeSaulnier 8/5/19

August 5, 2019 meeting with Representative Mark DeSaulnier and Indivisible East Bay’s CA-11 Team. 

Present: Rep. Mark DeSaulnier and Shanelle Scales Preston, District Director for Rep. DeSaulnier 

Read our memorandum to Rep. DeSaulnier here.

  • Immigration (CBP/HHS/Flores Settlement
    • $4.6 billion in border aid without any accountability
    • DeSaulnier: there were long caucuses on this – Problem Solvers Caucus wouldn’t support the above aid
    • 45 plays to race – he is good at it
    • This is about accountability 
    • Russians trying to disrupt politics – get people to be divisive
    • Only accountability at this point is if judge finds e.g. Secretary of DHS in contempt
  • Election Security 
    • Republicans are used to suppressing votes – it is part of their culture – “this is what we do in the South/Midwest.”
    • Need an audit trail
    • Social media is most alarming – they prime traditional media through social media
    • What can Oversight Committee do:
      • We have to stay in it
      • Need to hold hearings and let the public know
      • They are trying to build staff up on all committees – particularly with Oversight. Noted that budget for Congressional staff has been slashed since Gingrich was Speaker.
      • Keep having hearings – asked us to let him know what ideas we have. Work with Indivisible National to share ideas with others
    • Can members of congress model the right policies:
      • Blue states can pilot – take pieces of HR1 and try it at the local level 
      • Rep. DeSaulnier: We can try it. Apply pressure strategically and make them know who is on their side – Groups like Indivisible should work in swing states to help message this
      • We have to worry about CA too – he is worried about registrars here too – ex: Fresno 
    • How can Rep. DeSaulnier use his committee assignments to be impactful:
      • Can do lots of little things to have great impact
      • He wants help with the language with regards to all of our smaller recommendations that can lead to greater impact
      • “There will be vehicles on Election Security because it is important.” (presumably referring to future legislation)
  • Impeachment Inquiry
    • Wanted his name on it, but feels that this is a choice of conscience
    • Understands why Speaker Pelosi is concerned about it
    • Democrats who are not behind it are worried it will be like Clinton
    • Need to bring people along – Pelosi: “With public sentiment anything is possible”
    • Should focus on 2020
    • House Judiciary Committee Chair Nadler is pushing to get leverage from judges, Pelosi proceeding through action on multiple committees.
  • White Supremacist Terrorism
    • (Affected the tone of what we discussed but we didn’t explicitly get to it)
  • FY20 Budget Negotiations
    • Supplemental has gone in
      • Will be assertive about how they spend the money
      • Supplemental appropriations are bills enacted after the regular annual appropriations act to pay for situations too urgent to wait until the next year. 
    • Is there going to be a lawsuit? 
      • Multiple ones – mostly from ACLU but they lack infrastructure to deal with this corruption
      • His staff will get more for us
    • Progressive and Hispanic caucuses unified on various prohibitions asked for in Memo

If you want more info about the CA-11 Team, contact co-leads Ted and Kristen 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

Meeting notes by IEB and CA-11 Team members Kristen, Toni and Ion

Photograph of Rep. DeSaulnier with Toni, Kristen, Janis, and Ion

IEB 7/16/19 Meeting with Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, AD-15

Meeting with Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, AD-15, on July 16, 2019

PRESENT: Buffy Wicks; Senior Field Representative Uche Uwahemu; one additional staff person and three interns; five IEB members.

This was Indivisible East Bay’s first solo meeting with Assemblymember Wicks, following our May 10, 2019 meeting with her and Asm. Rob Bonta. We gave Wicks and her staff our pre-meeting memo and our list of IEB Priority Bills (many of which are also bills of priority interest statewide). By now bills initiated in one chamber of the Legislature have passed to the other chamber, where they must pass by mid-September, so these were the bills we focused on. With a few exceptions, we did not cover other bills that have died, that have not been included in the Governor’s budget, or that have become two-year bills and will roll over into next year.

ELECTIONS / VOTING RIGHTS:

A unifying theme of our selection of voting rights bills is supporting the major goals of the federal bill H.R.1, the For the People Act: expanding voting rights, campaign finance reform, and strengthening the government’s ethics laws. H.R.1 is an omnibus bill because the most effective changes work in tandem to complement each other. Wicks stated that she cares about voter rights and supports a variety of approaches. She was open to the idea of an omnibus bill and even suggested that she might look at authoring such a bill next session. We also discussed:

  • ACA 6, which expands voting rights to people on parole to re-enfranchise over 50,000 Californians. IEB is working with the community co-sponsors of ACA 6, including Initiate Justice, All of Us or None, and our community partner Open Gate. This is now a two-year bill. It still needs to be voted on in this Assembly this year, but will not reach the Senate until next year. Because it is a constitutional amendment it will require a two-thirds vote to pass. We asked Wicks to become a co-author, and she said she would be happy to.
  • We thanked Wicks for supporting AB 1217, which requires issue advertisements to disclose the top three funders. The bill is now in the Senate. SB 47 is another important bill for transparency, requiring ballot initiative signature gatherers to disclose the top three funders. We asked her to become a co-author. 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE:

  • Wicks supported AB 32, which prohibits the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from entering into or renewing contracts with private for-profit prisons. The bill, which is now in the Senate, has a long list of community co-sponsors, including California StateStrong; and one opponent, the CA State Sheriffs’ Association.
  • Wicks supported AB 1185, establishing a sheriff oversight board, on the Assembly floor (the bill is now in the Senate). However, more needs to be done in this arena – right now, there is no term limit on sheriffs. In response to IEB’s asking if she would consider introducing a constitutional amendment to switch from elected to appointed sheriffs or introducing a bill allowing counties to set term limits for sheriffs and district attorneys, Wicks responded that she is interested in an approach that would change the requirement that a person have a law-enforcement background in order to run for sheriff. She told us that either she or Sen. Nancy Skinner will author a bill to do that. 

STATE BUDGET:

  • Wicks joined us in being glad that Medi-Cal was expanded to include some undocumented immigrants (SB 29), but disappointed that it didn’t include seniors because of stated budgetary concerns.
  • Likewise, we were disappointed that the budget did not expand the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) program to include holders of Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, though we’re glad the income threshold was expanded.

IMMIGRATION/LOCAL COOPERATION WITH ICE:

  • Just before the meeting, we learned that Oakland Airport has been one of the top airports used by ICE in California. Wicks said she had also been unaware of this. When we asked if she had any thoughts on what might be done to end that cooperation, she said that the Governor has a broader ability to do things and we may need to get to him.
  • Since our meeting, IEB testified at the Port of Oakland commissioners meeting on July 25. In response, the Port said in the coming weeks, they are committed to developing recommendations and a definitive response to the events that occurred. 

ENVIRONMENT:

  • Wicks agreed with AB 1276, a state-specific “Green New Deal” aimed at addressing the climate crisis in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, technology and infrastructure, as well as economics, education, and civil rights. She specifically supported resilient infrastructure with AB 1698 (infrastructure investment and financing).
  • SB 200, which Wicks voted for, establishes a fund to secure access to safe drinking water. It was signed into law by the governor on July 24th.

EDUCATION:

  • Wicks co-authored SB 37 with Sen. Nancy Skinner to increase the tax rate on large corporations in order to fund child care, public schools and higher education. Though it didn’t pass the Senate, she emphasized that the need for it remains. She supports Prop. 13 reform (the Schools and Communities First initiative will be on the ballot in 2020) but noted that it only provides $11 billion towards the $50 billion she believes is required to fund schools.
  • Wicks voted in support of bills that reformed how charter schools are formed and operated: AB 1505, which passed both houses of the Legislature; AB 1506, which did not; and SB 126, which has already been signed into law. She stated that she believes there are good charter schools but that more accountability is needed.

HOUSING:

Housing is a major focus of Wicks’ legislative interest. She stated that we need 3.5 million units of housing at all income levels and at higher density levels and noted the need for housing at moderate income levels, where costs are too high but people do not qualify for assistance. She is a co-author of:

  • AB 724, which was intended to create a registry of rental properties (though it did not pass the Assembly).
  • AB 1482, which would prohibit rent gouging and eviction without just cause.
  • SB 50, which provides incentives for streamlining approval of housing development.

POVERTY:

We didn’t discuss poverty with Wicks because she is already very strong on the issue. We had several priority bills on issues of poverty and hunger, and she has either authored or voted for all of them:

FUTURE WORK:

Wicks asked that we stay in touch going forward. She is developing bills for next year’s session that she would like our feedback on and support with, touching on a number of topics, including housing, hunger, privacy concerns, and reproductive rights.

By IEB Governance Committee members Toni Henle and Ion Y

Toni Henle is retired after a career in policy work at non-profits focused on workforce development. She is a member of the IEB Governance Committee, co-lead of Outreach to Organizations and a member of the Indivisible CA-11 team.

There’s no ICE in SANCTUARY

Like most people in the East Bay, we in Indivisible East Bay were shocked to learn that Oakland Airport has been the site of thousands of deportations. Hidden in Plain Sight: ICE Air and the Machinery of Mass Deportation,” the extraordinary report by the University of Washington’s Center for Human Rights, reveals that almost 27,000 people were deported through Oakland Airport between 2010 and 2018. IEB spoke to the report’s authors in consultation with Centro Legal de la Raza and the Asian Law Caucus, and we learned that it gets even worse: 6,080 of those removals were potentially problematic. 313 of those deported still had pending immigration proceedings, 13 were removed despite having deferred action or some other benefit that should have blocked their deportation, and 5,754 of them underwent forms of deportation such as expedited removal, with no chance to appear before an immigration judge. And on July 22 2019, the White House expanded fast-track deportation regulations, meaning even more people nationwide will be deported without due process protections.

Both Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and the Port of Oakland, under whose jurisdiction the airport falls, have said that they had no prior knowledge that these flights were occurring. Mike Zampa, spokesperson for the Port of Oakland, issued the following statement:

The Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport understand community concerns over this issue. We have been, and will remain in compliance with sanctuary city laws. No Port or Airport employees were part of any immigration investigation, detention or arrest procedures in connection with possible immigration law violations.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement claims that the deportation flights out of Oakland stopped in October 2018, but there is no guarantee that they will not resume in the future. And while the Port states that they are in compliance with Oakland’s sanctuary city laws, it is unclear what that means – or what changes they will make in the future to “strengthen (their) commitment to the sanctuary city policy,” as Mayor Schaaf reported. To further complicate matters, while the members of the Port of Oakland Board of Commissioners are appointed by the mayor of Oakland, and the Port maintains it’s a public agency and steward of public assets, it is not clear how the Board holds itself accountable.

We have some ideas.

If you’re a resident of Oakland, call Mayor Libby Schaaf’s office at 510-238-3141 or email officeofthemayor@oaklandnet.com:

My name is ________, I’m a resident of Oakland and a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m asking Mayor Schaaf to hold the Port of Oakland accountable in their response to the deportations that occurred at the Oakland Airport.  If the Port is truly committed to the sanctuary city policy, they should be transparent in how that is upheld and maintained.

In addition, IEB members are planning a presentation to the Port of Oakland itself, complete with a series of asks concerning public transparency, detailed information about the Port’s current and past relationship with ICE, and a request for an investigation into how the airport has handled past deportation flights, including any rights violations that may have occurred. We’ll keep you up to date!

Photo credit: Entrance to Oakland Airport BART Station, by Weegee010

Leading Lights for Liberty

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

Berkeley:

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

 

Castro Valley:

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

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

– by Andrea Lum

Richmond:

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Immigration Roundtable with Rep. Swalwell

On July 8, Andrea Lum and LeAnn Kanowsky of Indivisible East Bay attended CA-15 Representative Eric Swalwell’s roundtable discussion on the situation at our border and immigration detention centers. Eden United Church of Christ hosted the event, and representatives from Indivisible Livermore, Tiburcio Vazquez Health Center, other religious organizations, and legal aid agencies who provide services to immigrants were invited to participate in the hour-long discussion. Swalwell’s goal was to share his recent experience visiting the detention centers, discuss how we can help those in need, and collect information to support legislation in Congress to improve treatment of those crossing the border and seeking asylum.

During Swalwell’s recent visit with several other members of Congress to Homestead detention center in Florida, officials refused to open, let alone distribute, boxes of donated soap and toothbrushes. He noted that no one from the delegation visit was allowed to enter the detention center, as the officials at Homestead cited a need for two weeks’ advance notice.

The legal aid advocates at the meeting confirmed that the situation at the border and at the detention centers is “chaotic” and that the attitude by the current administration has encouraged bad behavior by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Once detainees have established “credible fear” with CBP, the interview is supposed to end and ICE should be involved. However, the legal advocates stated that immigrants often report CBP continuing to probe for information, creating a hostile environment. In addition, indigenous immigrants who do not speak Spanish (such as Maya people from Guatemala and Honduras), are severely disadvantaged by a lack of translators and unaware of the need to assert fear as the first process of seeking asylum.

Swalwell said the House Judiciary Committee, of which he is a member, will soon hold hearings on how to hold ICE and CBP officials accountable for the inhumane and criminal treatment of those in custody and stated that going forward, the next administration may need to completely remake ICE in order to clean up the “poisoned pool” of its employees.

When asked what we could do to help, Swalwell said that the upcoming Lights for Liberty events are important for boosting awareness. The following organizations are also worthy of support:

  • Immigrant Family Defense Fund: Legal and community resources for families in Alameda County public schools
  • The Florence Project: AZ legal service provider for adults and children
  • Keep Tuscon Together: AZ project that assists community members being deported
  • County Rapid Response Networks need our support, and we need to encourage our County Supervisors to commit to providing long term funding to these organizations.

At the conclusion of the meeting, we met an immigrant mother and her three children who are awaiting arrival of their father who is still in custody even though he won his asylum case. The administration is detaining him pending appeal, in spite of federal regulations which prohibit this.

Photograph (top) (c) Rep. Swalwell’s office, from December 2018 Town Hall

The administration is causing the border crisis

This article was edited on July 17 to reflect updates since its original publication.

The administration is right about there being an immigration crisis, but it isn’t for the reasons they’re telling us: It’s because THEY created it. And they’re making it worse by quietly instituting new administrative policies that will make conditions worse for more people, and deny the right to apply for asylum to more people.

Tell your Members of Congress: Don’t let this administration get away with this. All of our MoCs care about this issue, and they all need to raise their voices and show leadership on these new and renewed threats. And one in particular – CA-15 Representative Eric Swalwell, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee – can do even more.

Read on for more background, and scroll down for call scripts and contact info.

Crisis #1: The Kids:

On July 1, advocates for immigrant children filed a lawsuit to block a new policy that would give US Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials the power to decide that children designated as unaccompanied minors should lose that status. The suit names the federal Department of Homeland Security and its acting secretary, Kevin McAleenan, as well as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and its acting director, Ken Cuccinelli as defendants, and seeks class-action status and a temporary restraining order.

Unaccompanied minors have special protections in asylum applications, including being granted an asylum interview rather than having to appear in court. In other words: under an unannounced policy change, officials will quietly be able to make it far more difficult for tens of thousands of children to apply for asylum, without the public ever knowing. (This, by the way, is why we need investigative journalism and better whistleblower protection laws…)

According to the LA Times:

Federal asylum officers have been rushing to process as many unaccompanied minor applications as possible before the change takes effect Sunday, USCIS personnel told The Times, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect against professional retaliation.

Crisis #2: The Crowds:

Seems the administration is happy to blame a lot of things – from family separations to inhumane conditions – on the fact that there are enormous crowds of would-be immigrants at the southern border. Turns out, the administration itself has created those crowds.

As NPR recently explained:

In May 2018, US Customs and Border Protection officials began a practice known as “metering” across the southern border. This means that officials are stationed at official ports of entry along the border to notify arriving asylum-seekers that US border crossings are full due to “limited processing capacity” and they will have to wait in Mexico until space becomes available. Previously, officials processed all asylum-seekers that showed up at crossings.

Thus, instead of being processed promptly at border crossings, families are forced to wait in Mexico in haphazard “camps” – or on the streets – where they are vulnerable to threats and exploitation. Some choose instead to cross the border between the ports of entry to seek asylum and are apprehended by the CBP patrol agents and brought to CBP field stations. There, children not traveling with a parent or legal guardian – or whose parents are arbitrarily deemed “dangerous” – are separated from adult family members. Ironically, even the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have called the situation at the border a “humanitarian crisis”, and it’s unlikely that anyone would seriously disagree. The union for federal asylum workers has brought a lawsuit claiming the “wait in Mexico” program is “fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our Nation.” 

People seeking asylum have a legal right to do so in the country where they seek to be. The administration insists they aren’t doing anything wrong: according to CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, “It’s not turning people away, it’s asking them to wait.” Just – not in the United States.

What you can do:

Tell all your Members of Congress:

My name is ________, my zip code is ________ and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’ve heard about about the new policy that would let USCIS officers strip migrant children of their status as unaccompanied minors and make it harder for them to apply for asylum. I want _____ to speak out against this and to do everything possible against all of the administration’s efforts to prevent people from seeking asylum in this country.

If your Representative is Eric Swalwell:

In Indivisible East Bay’s very recent meetings with Rep. Swalwell, he has expressed great concern for the plight of migrants, and strong opposition to the administration’s immigration policies. Rep. Swalwell sits on the House Judiciary Committee, which on July 9 announced that it is marking up a resolution “to authorize subpoenas for documents and testimony from current and former Administration officials relating to the Trump Administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy and other family separation policies and practices; detention of children and families; and discussions about or offers of presidential pardons to Department of Homeland Security officials or employees.” When you call Rep. Swalwell, also say:

I want to thank Rep. Swalwell for making this a priority issue. I’m happy that the House Judiciary Committee is investigating the administration’s immigration policies, and I want Rep. Swalwell to make sure that this investigation includes the new USCIS policy that will threaten the well-being of children seeking asylum, and the metering of migrants and asylum seekers at the southern border. I hope he’ll do everything possible to call to account those responsible for the terrible situations in the camps and to reverse the current inhumane policies.

MoC contact info:

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

 

Tell Big Business: No Cruelty for Profit!

By Alice Towey

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

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

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

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

What to do:

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

What to say: 

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

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

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

Who’s making a buck off human misery:

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

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

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

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

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

More ways you can help!

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

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

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

Lights for Liberty

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

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

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

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

Graphic by Lights for Liberty

Show UP for Immigrant Justice 6/29

El Cerrito Shows UP is calling on our community to be a voice of justice for immigrants. From “zero tolerance” to the detention of 15,000+ children, current immigration policies are cruel and unjustified, and must be loudly rejected. Families and individuals fleeing dangerous conditions have the right to seek asylum in the U.S. It has been a year since we rallied and marched in 60+ cities to protest family separation. Join Immigrant Justice Now as we take to the streets in cities everywhere June 29, 2019.

RSVP here: https://actionnetwork.org/events/show-up-for-immigrant-justice

Co-hosts are El Cerrito Shows UP and Indivisible East Bay