The other impeachment – Brett Kavanaugh

By Ann G. Daniels

Deadline: Now, the Supreme Court’s already in session –

While we’re talking impeachment … which we do, a lot … did you know that although a US President hasn’t YET been removed from office after being impeached, federal judges have been? That’s right, we can impeach a federal judge, and it’s been done before. Brett Kavanaugh, serial perjurer, time’s up.

As Senator Kamala Harris recently said, Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings were “not a serious pursuit of truth or justice” – and the way to get such a hearing is through the impeachment process. 

Senator Harris has called on the House Judiciary Committee to open an impeachment inquiry, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley has introduced H.Res. 560, “Inquiring whether the House of Representatives should impeach Brett M. Kavanaugh.” House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler says the Committee is “too busy” impeaching Trump – we certainly don’t want to distract them, but we believe Congress can multi-task, and we want their attention. After all, the House didn’t get a chance to grill Kavanaugh before, since judicial nominees only come before the Senate – let’s tell them to step up and be counted when they have the chance.

What to do:

Here’s a basic message you can tailor for each of our Members of Congress:

My name is _______, my zip code is _______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I believe that Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings were an outrage, and I want Congress to begin impeachment proceedings to look into his perjury during those hearings. We deserve to have a Supreme Court that we can trust not to make a mockery of justice.

  • For Senator Kamala Harris, add: I want to thank Senator Harris for publicly stating her support for impeaching Brett Kavanaugh. Please keep it up!
    (
    email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • For Senator Dianne Feinstein, add: I hope Senator Feinstein will wholeheartedly support impeaching Brett Kavanaugh, and will publicly state her support as Senator Harris has done.
    (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • For Representative Barbara Lee, add: I want to thank Representative Lee for cosponsoring H.Res. 560. I hope she’ll continue to fight for impeaching Brett Kavanaugh.
    (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • For Reps. Mark DeSaulnier and Eric Swalwell, add: I want Representative ____ to cosponsor H.Res. 560, and I hope he will fight to impeach Kavanaugh as Rep. Barbara Lee is doing. We need the House to take action to make sure that the Supreme Court doesn’t become as corrupt as the White House.
    Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
    Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065 

Chișinău,” graphic by Tony Bowden

Ann G. Daniels’ checkered professional background includes practicing law, reproductive rights advocacy, creating web content for nonprofits and educational organizations, and teaching adult and family literacy. She also designs jewelry, teaches knitting, and sings second soprano.

 

Dis-Barred: Barr should be impeached

By Heidi Rand

Deadline: Start now and keep going – We didn’t have to call the Psychic Hotline to know that Bill Barr would be the Disaster-in-Chief’s Roy Cohn. As patriotic whistleblowers and intrepid journalists shine light on the Current (not for long we hope) Occupant’s abuses of power, also illuminated are his colluding toadies’ high crimes, and it’s time to reveal what Bill “Cover-Up” Barr has been up to.

The Constitution provides the same remedy to eject a law-breaking Attorney General: impeachment. What might a Barr impeachment inquiry focus on?

What you can do:

Call your Members of Congress. The House would initiate an impeachment inquiry, so contact your Representative to thank them each for speaking out against Barr: Rep. Swalwell (CA-15) has called for Barr’s impeachment; Rep. Lee (CA-13) has called for Barr to resign, as has Rep. DeSaulnier (CA-11) and:

What to say: 

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I urge Representative ____ to continue speaking out publicly about AG Barr’s corrupt abuses of power, and I want the House to open an impeachment inquiry into his conduct related to the whistleblower’s complaint, and the Mueller Report and intelligence investigations.

  • 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

Our Senators can speak out publicly about Barr’s corruption, can push for investigations, including as members of the Judiciary Committee. Senator Kamala Harris is speaking out to insist that Barr come back to Congress to testify under oath about the question she asked him at a May Judiciary Committee hearing — which he refused to answer — whether the White House had asked him to open an investigation of anyone.

What to say to Senator Harris:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for calling on AG Barr to return to testify to Congress under oath about your question to him at the hearing in May regarding whether the White House every asked him to investigate anyone. Please call for an impeachment inquiry into Barr’s conduct related to the whistleblower’s complaint and the Mueller Report and intelligence investigations.

Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Senator Feinstein released a statement on September 21 calling on Barr to transmit the whistleblower report and any guidance provided to the Director of National Intelligence to Congress as soon as possible. The former is moot, but Feinstein should continue to push for more information, and to speak out publicly about Barr’s abuses.

What to say to Senator Feinstein:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for your September 21 statement about AG Barr. Please continue to pursue your request that he provide information on any advice or guidance by the Justice Department to the Acting Director of National Intelligence about transmittal of the whistleblower’s report to Congress. And please call for an impeachment inquiry into Barr’s conduct related to the whistleblower’s complaint and the Mueller Report and intelligence investigations.

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

Do you live outside the East Bay, or have friends in other districts or states? Spread the word! Use this link to find contact info for all Members of Congress.

 

“NOT OK,” graphic by Lynn LaRocca, of Alameda4Impeachment

Heidi Rand fights the evil empire with skills gained as a Ninth Circuit staff attorney and civil rights lawyer, using words to resist, and to inform and inspire others to take action. She also wields a mean camera and knitting needles, though not at the same time.

Face to face with Sen. Feinstein’s state director

Our Q&A with Senator Feinstein’s new state director is coming up next Monday, September 23, and we’ve got plenty to talk about!

Since Senator Feinstein was reelected, many of us at Indivisible East Bay who track her see signs that she’s losing touch with her constituents and losing a sense of urgency about resisting the GOP agenda. From distancing herself from bold action to address climate change, to voting to send extra money to the border with no guardrails, to her underwhelming response to the new Kavanaugh evidence, it looks like she’s forgetting what we sent her back to Washington to do.

We know she’s capable of much more, but we need to push her!

Jim Lazarus, Sen. Feinstein’s current state director, wasn’t around in early 2017, or during the health care fight, or the Kavanaugh hearings, or the Blue Wave. He has no idea what the resistance is capable of, and his boss appears to have forgotten.

Let’s show both of them by turning out in force for this meeting, bringing our tough, thoughtful, probing questions, and a powerful call to resistance and action. Join us on Sept. 23 from 5:15 to 7:30 PM, at the Berkeley Public Library Main Branch.

A climate contingent plans to attend with banners, signs, and t-shirts of the organizations they’re representing. They invite others to meet in front of the Library at 5 PM to grab signs and coordinate questions. You can let Leana know at leanarosetti@gmail.com if you want to join them.

You can RSVP here (not required, but helps us plan), and whether or not you can make it, please call Sen. Feinstein today and say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask Senator Feinstein to Defund Hate in this year’s budget by cutting funding for ICE and CBP in the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill, prohibiting funding transfers to ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, and including provisions to protect migrants.

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

The meeting is free and open to the public. The Berkeley Main Library is at 2090 Kittredge Street (near downtown Berkeley BART, cross street is Shattuck Avenue). The meeting room is upstairs in the third floor administrative wing, and is accessible. Children are welcome.

IEB’s meetings with Members of Congress and their staff are run according to the Indivisible Guide, which tells us to treat our MoCs, their staff, and all event participants with civility and respect. We encourage people to be assertive and express your opinions – even your frustration, if that’s how you feel! – but please remember that these are intended to be venues for thoughtful discussion and community sharing. Tirades, hate speech, violent speech of any kind, and excessive profanity will not be tolerated. In addition, Congressional staff is not permitted to discuss electioneering, and it is our policy not to bring it up or ask questions they can’t answer. Anyone comfortable with this approach is welcome to come.

This meeting is scheduled in the evening, and in the East Bay rather than San Francisco, to make it more accessible for working people and families. We really hope to see you there!

Read our article about IEB’s most recent meeting with Sen. Feinstein’s staff in June 2019, and our article about the last Q&A discussion we had in Oakland with Sen. Feinstein’s former state director and field representative, in August 2018.

If you have questions, please email us at info@indivisibleeb.org

 

Tell our Senators: Keep ICE’s hands out of the cookie jar

UPDATED September 5, 2019

Under the US Constitution and federal law, it’s the responsibility of Congress and the President to create a federal budget and spending bills. The process is complex, but one thing is clear: federal agencies shouldn’t be able to decide, on their own, how federal funds get spent, or to take money that’s been allocated for another purpose. And yet, that’s exactly what has been going on – Department of Homeland Security is essentially taking hundreds of millions of dollars from federal agencies like FEMA and giving it to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to use for Trump’s racist, deadly immigration agenda.  They deceptively call it “reprogramming and transfer authority,” but we call it sleight of hand. Or theft. Relatedly, on September 4 it was revealed that states from Virginia to Arizona will lose millions in the administration’s plan to divert $3.6 BILLION from Pentagon-funded military construction projects to build a wall along the border.

In the current budget process, the House of Representatives has passed a good DHS Appropriations bill, which sets overall spending limits by the agency. The House bill (1) puts some limitations on how ICE/Customs and Border Protection can spend its money, and (2) rescinds the DHS Secretary’s ability to move money from any part of DHS (such as FEMA) to CBP and ICE Enforcement and Removal. 

Now it’s the Senate’s turn. Senators Feinstein and Harris both signed a letter to the Senate Committee on Appropriations supporting reduced funding for the administration’s immigration and detention agenda, and opposing ICE’s reprogramming and transfer authority. But they need to hear from us, because there will be pressure for the Senate to come up with a bipartisan bill. Tell our Senators you want reduced funding for ICE and CBP, and an end to ICE’s “reprogramming and transfer” authority. Also: Indivisible’s “Defund Hate” week of action is September 9-13, and we have lots going on: check out our article and plan to join us and our partners for crafting, calling, rallying, and more!

Read on for a call script and contact info; and below that, for more information and resources.

What to do:

1. Contact our Senators, tell them you want reduced funding for ICE and CBP, and an end to ICE’s “reprogramming and transfer” authority.

What to say:

My name is _________, my zip code is _________, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank the Senator for opposing the administration’s horrible immigration agenda, and also opposing ICE’s reprogramming and transfer authority. I hope the Senator will work for a DHS appropriations bill like the one passed by the House. We need a bill with protections for immigrants and an end to using all of DHS as a slush fund for immigrant detention, deportation, and abuse.

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

 

2. Check out Indivisible National’s “Defund Hate” campaign and mark your calendars for their September 9-13 Week of Action. If you text Defund Hate to 977-79, Indy National will send you the latest updates on our plan for the Week of Action, including telling you when events are registered near you. And be on the lookout for IEB and partners’ action items coming your way!

3. Spread the word! Got friends outside California? Send them this link so they can contact their Members of Congress.

 

More information: 

As if the administration’s immigration policy weren’t devastating enough in terms of the threat to life and health, last year, just as hurricane season was about to start, ICE raided $10 million from FEMA (the agency responsible for coordinating disaster response efforts). This year they’re raiding $155 million from FEMA and a total of over $270 million from agencies dealing in safety. And remember when Trump declared a national emergency so he could build his wall? That money he wanted – billions of dollars – was to be transferred from other agencies to which Congress had budgeted it. That, in a nutshell, is how “reprogramming and transfer” is happening – Congress budgets money for things that are not Trump’s immigration and detention program, and then he and DHS sneak in or bully their way in and take it anyway.

This ability to steal money that isn’t theirs lets ICE make a mockery of Congress. Congress appropriates money to the various parts of the government? Meaningless! Congress tells ICE to decrease immigrant detention to a specific level? Not happening – ICE thinks it’s above the law.

This budget cycle the Democratic House of Representatives is working to put a stop to these shenanigans with an appropriations bill for DHS that approaches the problem from several angles, such as:

  • Prohibits construction of border barriers, except with funds appropriated for that purpose.
  • Prohibits funding transfers to ICE Operations and Support for Enforcement and Removal Operations.
  • Prohibits ICE from removing sponsors of unaccompanied children based on information provided by the Office of Refugee Resettlement as part of the sponsor’s application to accept custody of the child.
  • Limits future detention facility contracts or renewals from having an indefinite period of availability. 
  • Ensures access by Members of Congress to detention facilities.

California’s Senators have spoken out in favor of curbing funding for ICE and CBP and in favor of “language limiting the DHS Secretary’s ability to transfer funds for the purpose of detaining immigrants.” While not as strong as the House version, that’s pretty good. But the appropriations process is about to heat up in the Senate, and at this point in the proceedings there will be pressure on the Senate to come up with a bipartisan bill – meaning that it’s going to take support from us to keep our Senators fighting to keep ICE’s hands off money we don’t want them to have.

Bottom line: If we don’t want the administration to keep stealing millions of dollars that we need for health and safety and other critical issues that Congress has budgeted it for, we need to act NOW.

Resources:

 

Ann G. Daniels’ checkered professional background includes practicing law, reproductive rights advocacy, creating web content for nonprofits and educational organizations, and teaching adult and family literacy. She also designs jewelry, teaches knitting, and sings second soprano.

 

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

Counter White Supremacists’ Terrorism

Even FBI agents are finally saying it: domestic terrorism poses “a threat to the American people and our democracy.” It isn’t news that there has for years been a “resurgence in radicalization and recruitment” in right-wing extremism. It also isn’t news that this cancer has metastasized wildly since the election of the Current Occupant of the White House, who told the world that he felt there was no threat from white nationalism after the Christchurch mosque massacre – the massacre that inspired the El Paso racist massacre just days ago. For years, the government has had their priorities exactly backwards, according to some experts: 

Citing figures from the Anti-Defamation League, [Rep. Jamie] Raskin noted that from 2009-2018, far-right extremism was responsible for 73% of extremist murders, while international terrorism was responsible for 23% of terrorism deaths. “The FBI has testified the bureau allocates its resources almost exactly backwards than the problem would suggest,” Raskin said. “Devoting 80% of field agents to stopping international terrorism including Islamic extremism and only 20% to stopping domestic terrorism including far right and white supremacist extremism.”

And it gets worse: 

The Trump administration has systematically cut back on resources used to address threats from domestic extremists even as the FBI has reported a 30-40% rise in domestic terrorism cases just since October.

What you can do:

Our government needs to put its resources in the right places: not toward putting kids in cages, but toward investigating and addressing the very real problem of white supremacist violence in this country. Tell our Members of Congress:

My name is ___________, my zip code is ___________, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m worried about white supremacist violence in this country. In the most recent mass shootings by white supremacists, they published manifestos to spread their ideology. I want Senator/Representative ___________ to push for additional funding for the Countering Violent Extremism program to focus on white supremacists and their radicalization. I also hope Senator/Representative ______ will do everything possible to fight this administration’s support for racism and racist violence, including investigating political pressure on law enforcement to ignore white supremacist extremism.

  • 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

 

Bring Back the Senate for Gun Control

What a shame Congress can’t do anything to stop this country’s epidemic of mass shootings and deaths by white supremacist gun violence. Except, oh wait, they can. And they have. Or rather, they would. Except Mitch McConnell won’t let them.

The House of Representatives passed two gun control bills in February 2019: H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would require background checks for private gun sales (think online sales and gun shows); and H.R. 1112, which would extend the waiting period from the background check system before a sale can proceed, from the current three days to ten days. Normally, the bills would now go to the Senate and be referred to the appropriate committees. Instead, McConnell placed them on the Senate calendar, which sounds good but isn’t, it actually means they’re just … sitting there, while more people die.

In addition, the Senate has before it S. 42, introduced in January 2019 and cosponsored by both Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, which would prohibit a firearm transfer between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check. The bill is in the Judiciary Committee, which both of our Senators sit on – and which is chaired by Lindsey Graham, whose support for gun control is limited to talking about “red flag” laws, which allow local law enforcement officials to temporarily seize guns from people who may pose a risk to themselves or others.

Meanwhile, mass shootings go on. And on. And the Senate is in recess, with the GOP offering its usual thoughts and prayers.

Senators Feinstein and Harris have both called for the Senate to act:

The House has already passed a universal background check bill that would make it harder for dangerous people to buy guns. The Senate could return to Washington this week and vote on that bill, but Senate Republican leaders continue to say no.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, August 4, 2019 

The Bipartisan Background Checks Act passed the House in February—but it hasn’t even received a hearing in the Senate. It’s past time to take action. To Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans, I say: have some courage. Let’s vote.

Sen. Kamala Harris, August 5, 2019 

Amen, and amen.

What you can do:

1. Call Sens. Feinstein and Harris. It may not seem like they need your call since they’re already doing the right thing, but remember: the NRA will always mobilize its membership and you can be sure that our Senators are hearing loud and clear from gun control opponents. They need to hear from US!

What to say:

My name is ____________, my zip code is _________ and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Senator _________ for supporting gun control legislation. The Senator is right: the Senate needs to reconvene, now, to vote on H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112. Trump is cheering on white supremacist violence and Mitch McConnell is enabling it by refusing to let the Senate vote on these bills. Also, I hope the Senator will use her position on the Judiciary Committee to do everything possible to pass S. 42.

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

2. Support these organizations:

 

Graphic: “U.S. Senate To Increase Work Days” by Mike Licht

Join IEB’s Q&A in Berkeley with Sen. Feinstein’s State Director

Please join Indivisible East Bay and our co-hosts, Indivisible Berkeley, for a Q&A discussion with Senator Feinstein’s State Director Jim Lazarus on Monday September 23 from 5:15 to 7:30 PM, at the Berkeley Public Library Main Branch.

The meeting is free and open to the public. RSVP is preferred, but not required. The Berkeley Main Library is at 2090 Kittredge Street (near downtown Berkeley BART, cross street is Shattuck Avenue). The meeting room is upstairs in the third floor administrative wing, and is accessible. Children are welcome.

Meeting with our Members of Congress’ staff in person is one of the most effective ways to influence our representatives. Staff have told us that they find these public meetings particularly helpful in their work of reporting back to the senator what her constituents want. So please come and bring your questions and concerns for Sen. Feinstein’s state director to answer and/or pass along to his boss.

IEB’s meetings with Members of Congress and their staff are run according to the Indivisible Guide, which tells us to treat our MoCs, their staff, and all event participants with civility and respect. We encourage people to be assertive and express your opinions – even your frustration, if that’s how you feel! – but please remember that these are intended to be venues for thoughtful discussion and community sharing. Tirades, hate speech, violent speech of any kind, and excessive profanity will not be tolerated. In addition, Congressional staff is not permitted to discuss electioneering, and it is our policy not to bring it up or ask questions they can’t answer. Anyone comfortable with this approach is welcome to come.

This meeting is scheduled in the evening, and in the East Bay rather than SF, to make it more accessible for working people and families. We really hope to see you there!

Read our article about IEB’s most recent meeting with Sen. Feinstein’s staff in June 2019, and our article about the last Q&A discussion we had in Oakland with Sen. Feinstein’s state director and field representative, in August 2018.

If you have questions, please email us at info@indivisibleeb.org

 

IEB Meeting with Sen. Feinstein Staff June 2019

Meeting with Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Staff, June 20, 2019
1 Post St., San Francisco

From Sen. Feinstein’s office: Jim Lazarus, State Director; Abigail Ellis, Field Representative; two interns

Read Indivisible East Bay’s pre-meeting memorandum

TOPICS DISCUSSED:

  • Climate Change & Infrastructure: Climate change and rising sea levels (a consequence of climate change) affect infrastructure, including roads and bridges. We asked whether Sen. Feinstein is working to include climate change in infrastructure legislation; Jim Lazarus said not that he knew of, but that he’d let the Senator know about our concern.
  • Iran and the Middle East/AUMF Repeal & Defense Appropriations Bill: Lazarus expressed frustration that Sen. Feinstein has tried repeatedly to contact Secretary of State Pompeo, who hasn’t returned any of her calls. He said that Feinstein supports the nuclear treaty with Iran and does not support the US withdrawal from it OR the unilateral use of force without authorization from Congress. Ellis said that Feinstein supports the repeal of the 2001 AUMF; Lazarus continued that in political reality, there will be a defense appropriations bill, and it will probably include a compromise on the AUMF repeal.
  • ICE and CBP Detention Facilities/Border Supplemental Appropriations Bill: We presented background information and recommended that the Senator view the recent argument of a Justice Department lawyer before a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel that CBP needed the authority to deny children sleep as well as access to basic hygiene. Lazarus agreed to do this. Feinstein’s staff has visited the detention facilities, and she is extremely concerned about how the children are being treated; Ellis said that the facilities are exploiting loopholes, which the Senator wants to close via legislation. As far as her staff knows, her thinking on the role of ICE has not changed.
  • American Dream and Promise Act: We asked Sen. Feinstein to move to proceed to a floor vote on the bill. Lazarus asked if anyone asked Sen. McConnell, and we pointed out that by Senate rules, any Senator can make a motion for a floor vote.
  • Judicial Nominations: We have asked Sen. Feinstein to vote NO on the floor on Trump’s judicial nominations even if she votes YES in the Judiciary committee. According to her staff, she has to maintain relationships and cooperation with some Republicans: for example, when Sen. Feinstein might seek support from some Republican Senators for judicial nominations she favors, especially of nominees from California—or of other legislative goals she supports.
  • Election Security: The Senator is concerned about election security. We urged Sen. Feinstein (and other Democratic Senators) to push back on Sen. McConnell, and were skeptical of Lazarus’ explanation that the GOP opposes election-security legislation because it traditionally favors “local control” and fears possible overreach from federal government standards for elections.
  • American Family Act of 2019: We expressed disappointment that Sen. Feinstein still hasn’t joined 38 of her colleagues in cosponsoring this legislation to help families with children. Lazarus said he didn’t know of any concerns keeping her from cosponsoring and implied she might be exploring alternatives.
  • Investigations & Oversight: We expressed concern that the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are not obtaining adequate information about the Mueller investigations and the previous FBI counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in our 2016 election. Lazarus was unable to tell us what Sen. Feinstein is doing to ensure that the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which she is the ranking member, will finally obtain all the information it needs. 

 

– By IEB member Phil

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

 

Election Security IS National Security

Deadline: today and ongoing – If there’s one thing former Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been unequivocal about, it’s foreign interference in our elections – the subject of the entire first part of the Special Counsel’s Report, and a theme Mueller emphasized repeatedly in his May 27 statement

The Report lists many forms of election interference, but one challenge stands out: election security doesn’t get enough funding. The U.S. spends $650 to $700 billion on defense – that’s ¾ of a trillion dollars; $55 billion on homeland security; and $16 billion on cybersecurity in the defense department alone. Yet somehow we can’t manage to find more than $380 million to budget for election security, and we don’t even actually spend that. Election experts have been calling for more funding for years, but the calls have become much more urgent since the 2016 election made it clear how much of a threat we face.

The Mueller Report wasn’t news to those who’ve been paying attention: our intelligence agencies reported that Russia interfered in our 2016 elections as early as January 2017, and recently stated that Russia and China intend to do so again in 2020. To counteract these threats, a report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine calls for all local, state and and national elections to use only “human-readable paper ballots” by 2020, and security experts at Stanford listed 45 recommendations emphasizing the need for a multi-disciplinary nationwide effort.

This is as much an issue of national security as an armed threat. If we spend hundreds of billions on military expenditures and militarizing our borders but leave our elections undefended, we’re lowering the front gates while leaving the side doors wide open. Even worse, we do so knowing we were attacked in the past, are currently being attacked, and will be attacked in the future.

The House of Representatives is taking the issue seriously: the House Appropriations Committee voted for an appropriations bill with $600 million for election security to the proposed budget for 2020 (see page 70 of this PDF of the budget), and this money was part of H.R. 3351, the budget bill which the full House passed by a vote of 224 to 196 on June 26. The Senate is another story, however, repeatedly stalling election security bills.  

What you can do:

1. Contact your Members of Congress to urge them to treat election security funding as a national security issue.

What to say if your representative is Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) or Barbara Lee (CA-13):

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Rep. _________ for voting for $600 million for election security in the 2020 budget. I’d like them to speak out publicly to persuade the public and their colleagues that election security funding is an issue of national security.

  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661

What to say if your representative is Eric Swalwell (CA-13):

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m disappointed that Rep. Swalwell did not vote on H.R. 3351, which funds $600 million for election security in the 2020 budget. I’d like him to speak out publicly to persuade the public and his colleagues that election security funding is an issue of national security.

  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

What to say to our Senators:

  • To Senator Dianne Feinstein, on the Senate Appropriations and Intelligence Committees (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841:

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. The House Appropriations Committee has authorized $600 million for election security. I’d like the Senator to use her position on the Appropriations Committee to resist any attempts to remove election security money from the final budget, and also work to persuade her Senate colleagues that election security funding is an issue of national security.

  • To Senator Kamala Harris, on the Senate Intelligence Committee (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. The House has voted to authorize $600 million for election security in the 2020 budget. I’d like the Senator to work to persuade her colleagues that election security funding is an issue of national security.

2. Spread the word to people in other states, particularly those whose Senators are on the Senate Appropriations Committee (they will decide if election security funding remains in the budget) or the Senate Intelligence Committee (they’re in the best position to understand the details of foreign interference in 2016 and 2018).

Photo of Vladimir Putin by the Kremlin