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

Speak out CA: we are a sanctuary

Deadline: NOW and ongoing – On the eve of launching his re-election campaign, the Threatener-In-Chief announced that the administration would “begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in.”

Leave aside for a moment that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may or may not have been about to launch such an effort; and that if they were, Trump just blew their cover. How would such an operation work? The answer, say people who’ve looked at ICE staffing, budget, and past history of deportations, is that ICE could not possibly achieve anything like this goal.

That’s not the end of the discussion, though. We need to make sure that Trump doesn’t try to commandeer state and local forces to assist any federal effort. As the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed, under SB 54, the California Values Act – also known as California’s “sanctuary state” law – “California has the right … to refrain from assisting” federal immigration authorities. Various cities and counties in the East Bay have also declared themselves to be sanctuary jurisdictions.

In other words: Trump can’t pull this off without help. Let’s make damn sure that California and the East Bay don’t provide the help to make it happen.


What you can do:

Tell our state and local elected officials you want them to stand by the sanctuary laws, and against the Trump administration’s storm trooper tactics.

On the state level, Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra have expressed support for the state’s sanctuary laws. Tell them you want them to issue a statement that California will continue to enforce its law and refuse to assist ICE/CBP enforcement.

  • Governor Gavin Newsom: email; 916-445-2841
  • Attorney General Xavier Becerra: attorneygeneral@doj.ca.gov; 800-953-5335 [select English or Spanish, then press 0]

Locally, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf made a name for herself by warning the city’s immigrant community about threatened raids in 2018, and has said she’ll “continue to stand for” Oakland’s values – although she hasn’t said what that means. Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin has also previously spoken out against Trump’s callous immigration policies. 

Tell them you want them to stand by what they’ve said and ensure that no local funds or resources are used in cooperation with ICE/CBP:

Don’t live in Oakland or Berkeley? Other East Bay locations are also sanctuary jurisdictions, or have local elected officials who’ve expressed strong opposition to the administration’s immigration enforcement. Wherever you live, tell your local government that you want them to speak out and to refuse to cooperate with the Administration’s anti-immigrant, fear mongering policies.

Photograph, “California Governor Signs ‘Sanctuary State’ Bill“, by Marco Verch

Make the candidates speak out

Deadline: through June 26, and even after – Do you have a favorite Presidential candidate yet? Do you know where the candidates stand on the big issues – and if you do, do you know it from their own statements?

Many of the candidates, to our dismay, haven’t taken a stand or enunciated a plan on some of the major issues facing us: climate change, endless war, women’s or LGBTQ+ rights, and more. We know: you’d probably vote for Godzilla over the Current Occupant. But we’re betting you’d rather make a more refined decision.


What you can do:

Let’s call (or email, or tweet, or your platform of choice) them on it.

Step one: Check what they say – or don’t say.

Below you’ll find a list of some of our top priorities – not meant to be exclusive! – and a list of the candidates’ websites. Do some cross-referencing. Start with your own favorite candidate, if you have one, and move on to others from there: What do the candidates say about your key issues, in how much detail, and how easy is it to find? A general rule for candidates’ sites: the easier something is to find on a site, the more important it is to the candidate.

Step two: Tell the candidates what you think.

To say what we all know: Candidates have been known to change their positions based on pressure. Are you pleased with the priority they’re giving your issues and what they’re saying? Thank them. Have they failed to address an issue? Demand that they address it, and tell them what you hope they’ll say. Have they taken a position you don’t like? Tell them. Especially tell the candidates if their position, or lack of a position, makes the difference between you supporting them, opposing them, or considering supporting someone else. After all, it’s all about getting your vote!

We’ve made it easy for you to contact the candidates. Click on their names in the list below to get to their campaign websites, which have ways you can contact them; we also list their campaigns’ facebook pages and twitter accounts.

Step three: Get your friends involved.

Got friends who don’t like the Current Occupant? Of course you do! Invite them to join you in the research. Encourage each other to speak up. You don’t even have to favor the same candidate to all support the work of pushing the candidates to take positions you want on the issues you care about.

And use your own social media. Try this cool tool from Indivisible National: you record a video telling the presidential candidates what you want to hear from the debate stage, and they’ll format and subtitle it and send you a link that you can spread by email and on your social media.

Step four: Let us know how it’s going!

We’d like to know who you’ve contacted on what issues, and if you hear back from them. Email us at info@indivisibleeb.org


Our (non-exclusive) list of priority issues, in alphabetical order:

  • Climate change
  • Cybersecurity
  • Economic justice
  • Education
  • Election security
  • Endless war
  • Healthcare
  • Immigration
  • Impeachment
  • Incarceration
  • Judiciary
  • LGBTQ+ rights
  • Reproductive rights
  • Science and technology
  • Social justice
  • Voters’ rights
  • Women’s rights


The
candidates, in alphabetical order (their names are links to their campaign websites).

 

Graphic “Debate picture” by Blok Glo

 

 

Next Stop Hunger Games?

Deadline: yes, right now – How many things are wrong with this picture? The administration continues to detain migrants and refuse to let them apply for asylum; takes children away from their parents and leaves them in vans in a Texas parking lot for nearly two days; allows the border patrol to confiscate migrant kids’ medicine; and now says there are so many kids in detention it can’t afford to take care of them, so it’s going to cut back on – or just completely cutactivities for unaccompanied children “that are not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety.” That includes things most humane people consider necessary, like legal aid, and others you could make a good case for, like English classes and recreation. Presumably the plan now is to let the kids sit in cages (or vans?) until it’s time for them to go by themselves to court, where they can’t speak or understand the language. Or maybe we’re headed straight for the Hunger Games?

To quote Rep. Barbara Lee:

By defunding English classes and legal aid, this administration is depriving child migrants of tools that are critical for navigating their asylum cases. But cutting recreation on top of that? This is cruelty for cruelty’s sake.

Rep. DeSaulnier has also criticized the administration’s heartless treatment of the children in U.S. custody; and Senator Feinstein has introduced a bill, which Sen. Harris has cosponsored, to protect immigrant children.


What you can do:

Call your Members of Congress NOW and tell them to scream bloody murder about this inhumane treatment of small, defenseless human beings, and to continue to do everything they can as legislators to protect all those crossing our borders.

What to say:

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want ____ to do everything in his/her power to keep this administration from spending my money to militarize the border, separate families, and treat migrants in custody inhumanely. The decision to cut services for unaccompanied minors is just the latest outrage. This needs to stop.

  • 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

 

“Abandoned soccer ball at refugee camp”, photo by Max Pixel

Help asylum seekers stranded at the border

By Erica Etelson

Do you want to help the asylum seekers at the U.S. border? Al Otro Lado (“On the Other Side”) wants YOU to spend a work week volunteering to help asylum seekers at the border in Tijuana. People with legal or medical skills or who speak Spanish are particularly needed, but ANYONE who wants to lend a hand is welcome, and there are a number of English-speaking asylum seekers in addition to those who speak Spanish. Tens of thousands of refugees from all around the world pass through Tijuana, and volunteers are needed to inform people of their legal rights (don’t worry, you’ll get trained in how to do this) and in helping them prepare for their asylum interview, as well as helping with child care, food preparation, data entry, and working in the medical clinic.

Volunteers are asked to arrive on a Sunday afternoon and stay through the following Friday. If you want more information or a first-hand account of what volunteering is like, please contact ericaetelson@gmail.com and/or visit alotrolado.org and fill out the volunteer application with your available dates.

Meeting with Feinstein staff March 2019

Indivisible East Bay met with Senator Feinstein’s state director Jim Lazarus and returning field representative Caitlin Meyer on March 14 in the senator’s San Francisco office. You can see our detailed pre-meeting memo here.

Our smaller-than-average delegation covered a lot of topics:

Climate Change: We told Jim that beyond the in-person interaction the senator had with young students in her office, we are disappointed that Sen. Feinstein — who we used to see leading on protecting our environment and addressing climate change — was dismissing this exciting new movement of energized youth activists by calling their ideas unrealistic. We asked her to support the Green New Deal resolution. We suggested that she doesn’t need to agree with every detail of their approach in order to celebrate their contributions and build up momentum to see how far this movement can take us toward our shared goal of a sustainable future. Jim said that he thought this perceived conflict was really mostly a communication issue and would be resolved as we move toward actual climate legislation. For example, the senator is currently working on carbon pricing legislation, which is not part of the current Green New Deal proposal but could complement it as part of the final legislation.

Immigration: We followed up on our repeated request that Sen. Feinstein visit the southern border and immigration detention facilities throughout the state — she says she wants to, but still has not — and we asked her to prioritize getting more funding in place for Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Afghan allies. There is a current backlog of 16,700 SIV-eligible individuals, including family members, and 4,400 applications are currently pending. In FY 2018, only 1,649 visas were issued, down from 4,120 in FY 2017.

Public banking: We asked the Senator to support public banking in California. Jim said it was an area that he hadn’t had many discussions with her about, but that he knew she supported local, accessible banking options like credit unions. He also expressed skepticism that public banking was the solution to the cannabis industry’s banking problems.

Census: We were glad to hear that Sen. Feinstein and her office have been very much on top of getting ready to make sure her constituents are all counted in the census. Caitlin told us that the office has been in touch with the Alameda County Complete Count Committee. We have a lot of hard to count populations here in the East Bay, such as immigrants and unhoused people.

And more: We also asked the Senator to:

  • work to fund desperately needed food stamps in Puerto Rico — she finally did the right thing on this after pressure from Sen. Schumer
  • cosponsor the EACH Woman Act (reproductive rights)
  • cosponsor The American Family Act (child allowance)—she hasn’t yet
  • hold a Town Hall—she seems as unlikely as ever to do so.

 

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

December 2018 meeting with Feinstein staff

On December 10, 2018, Indivisible East Bay had our first meeting with Senator Feinstein’s new interim state director Peter Muller. We met field representative Abby Ellis in the senator’s San Francisco office and Peter, who is based in Los Angeles, joined us by phone.

While climate change is always a high priority for IEB and usually makes our meeting agendas in some form, it’s rarely at the very top of our memo — mainly because that space is generally filled by a reaction to the latest crisis coming out of the White House. So it was a promising sign of the power shift in DC that we started with a discussion of the Green New Deal (GND). Peter said that while Sen. Feinstein isn’t yet familiar with the details of the Green New Deal proposal, as far as he could tell she’s generally supportive of the program and would invest more time in learning about it once it’s a bit further advanced in the House.

We brought up the plan Feinstein supports to extend certain controversial provisions in the WIIN Act, a water bill which, among other things, diverts water south of the Delta. We shared our concerns that the extension of those provisions could result in harm the Delta ecosystem, but Peter said that Sen. Feinstein’s office has examined the matter carefully and doesn’t believe the provisions have been harmful so far or will become so if extended.

We also talked about asylum seekers at the California-Mexico border and those being detained (along with other immigrants) throughout the state. Sen. Feinstein still wants to visit the detention facilities herself, but doesn’t yet have plans to do so. Meanwhile, her staff has visited every facility in California in which immigrants are detained, as well as some in Texas. But it’s been hard to perform oversight, because the facilities know they are coming and are able to prepare. Sen. Feinstein continues to work on getting legislation ready to pass at the earliest opportunity. (First we need to elect more Democrats.) We asked her to prioritize addressing the seemingly unnecessary “metering” at ports of entry that is causing a humanitarian crisis in which asylum seekers are forced to choose between waiting in overflowing shelters in Mexico — with complete uncertainty about having their claims heard — or attempting dangerous, illegal crossings and turning themselves in at understaffed remote outposts. And meanwhile we asked her to look at ways she could collaborate with the House concerning funding for immigration enforcement, particularly with respect to making sure the executive branch spends the money in the way Congress intended.

We discussed delays in funding transit projects — Sen. Feinstein does her best to advocate for projects in California but doesn’t have much influence otherwise; Attorney General nominee William Barr — she shares our concerns about his civil rights record and biases; judiciary appointments — Republicans are happy with how this is going. so we are likely to see more of the same; and homelessness — she has a bill ready and is looking for a Republican co-sponsor.

Finally, we asked what the senator’s hopes and dreams are for working with our new blue House. Peter listed:

  • Immigration
  • Gun Control – Peter said that Sen. Feinstein saw a strong opportunity for a bump stock ban (which the White House announced only days later)
  • Environment
  • Homelessness
  • Immigration enforcement oversight
  • Appropriations – put more constraints on the administration
  • Health care
  • 2016 election investigation – help her better leverage her position on the Judiciary Committee

 

Find out what it’s like: Witness at the Texas Border

Just reading about the administration’s mistreatment of refugees at the U.S.-Mexico border is enough to bring people to tears: from family separation to unlawful prolonged detention to the death of a seven-year old girl while in Border Patrol custody. In response, most of us sympathize, we offer support, we protest.

Some do more, including local activist Tomi Nagai-Rothe, who spent two and a half weeks at the border volunteering with the Texas Civil Rights Project. Hear Tomi speak about her eye-opening and heart-wrenching experience as a “Witness at the Texas Border” at an event sponsored by the El Cerrito Progressives on Saturday, January 5, from 3 to 4:30 PM, at Berkeley Zion Presbyterian Church, 545 Ashbury Ave., El Cerrito.

Tomi will also delve into why, as covered in a detailed ACLU report, the entire argument for extending a wall along the border is built on a foundation of quicksand unmoored from factual evidence. In fact, studies show that border walls “do not make the U.S. safer or significantly reduce smuggling or immigration.” There will also be an opportunity to learn about new local initiatives to support immigrants.

Ready to do more?

It’s not too late to contact your Members of Congress and insist that they keep funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection in check by fighting for a budget with no new funding for the wall or border enforcement. Read our article for more information and call scripts.

And check out these organizations, which are doing good work and need your help:

Graphic by Tomi Nagai-Rothe

Comment Deadline 12/10 – Rule Change to Penalize Immigrants for “Public Charge”

A proposed new rule by the administration would penalize millions of tax-paying legal immigrants and their US citizen children for using benefits such as nutrition assistance and Medicaid. The proposed changes to the “public charge” rule would make it harder for legal immigrants to get permanent resident status or citizenship if they use specific services, tax credits or subsidies through the ACA.

Comment at >> THIS LINK <<

Our partners at CHIRLA provided this helpful one-pager explaining the issue but it’s critically important that you submit a comment at the link above by the deadline of December 10, 2018. [pdf-embedder url=”https://indivisibleeb.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Public-Charge-CHIRLA.pdf” title=”Public Charge CHIRLA”]. For additional background information and analysis on this proposed change, see this longer analysis by Protecting Immigrant Families.