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.

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

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

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

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.

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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