What to do this week of February 17, 2019
118 weeks down, 89 weeks to the presidential election.
The AoC Checklist features clear, well-researched actions for Americans who value democracy, equality, voting, and respect. To stay engaged through challenging times, we practice gratitude, self-care, and celebration.
I value democracy.
With respect and collaboration, we create a government for the people, by the people.
▢ Action 1: Defend democracy and oppose abuse of authority. [h/t Indivisible]
Call Monday: Your one House rep and two senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] concerned that after signing a Congress-approved funding bill, the president violated democratic norms by pushing through his personal agenda, claiming a national emergency. These are the actions of a dictator. I want [NAME] to do two things: First, support a resolution to terminate this false emergency and, second, a call for investigations into this abuse of power. Thank you.
▢ Action 2: Advocate for a fair, impartial judiciary. [h/t Leadership Conference]
Call: Your two Senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling to oppose the nominations of Michael Park, Eric Murphy, and Chad Readler to the federal bench. I support a judiciary that protects voting, health care, and civil rights for all. I’m asking [NAME] to vote against confirming these nominees.
I value equality.
Support the dignity of your rainbow of neighbors from every religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, and ability.
▢ Action 1: Speak up for your hungry neighbors. [h/t FRAC]
The Agriculture Department has proposed limiting states’ ability to waive work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, even when not enough jobs are available.
Write: A comment on the Federal Register by April 2, 2019.
Modify this script: I want my tax dollars to assist neighbors in need. I support a robust SNAP program because [share your reasons from SNAP strengths. I oppose new SNAP rules that would increase hunger and poverty in communities across the nation. Last fall, Congress rejected the work-requirement provision that would deny food to 755,000 hungry neighbors, many of whom work in low-wage, unstable occupations. State (not federal) government is best-qualified to determine when local employment conditions warrant a change to work requirements.
▢ Action 2: Support equality in the military. [h/t GLAD]
Call: Or write your two Senators and one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP] to affirm that anyone meeting military standards may serve, including transgender individuals. The president’s discriminatory ban weakens our country. Congress must act to reverse the ban. Can I count on [NAME] to co-sponsor the bipartisan S.373/H.R.1032?
I value voting as a foundation of a healthy democracy.
Each citizen must be able to freely and fairly elect those who represent their values. The actions below are part of our 16-point plan to bolster voting access before the 2020 election.
▢ Action 1: Support voting for people with disabilities. [h/t Brennan Center]
Call: Your two state legislators (look up) and state elections official (look up).
Script 1: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I support automatic voter registration, especially because it empowers citizens with disabilitiesto exercise their right to vote. Does [State] have current legislation to implement automatic voter registration?
[If yes,] I would like [NAME] to cosponsor and vote for it. [If no,] Can I count on [NAME] to represent all their constituents with disabilities by introducing automatic voter registration legislation?
Script 2 (for 16 states with AVR): I’m so glad that [State] has Automatic Voter Registration. Thank you for the work you do to increase voter participation, especially for our neighbors with disabilities. Have a great day!
▢ Action 2: Support voting participation for Americans with visual impairments.
The National Federation of the Blind supports enabling people with visual impairments to vote independently through its National Center for Nonvisual Election Technology and has supported legal challenges to voting systems that violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Donate: To the National Federation of the Blind online here or mail to 200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place, Baltimore, MD 21230
▢ Action 3: Support voters with disabilities.
Voters with disabilities encounter many difficulties when attempting to vote. In 2016, voting participation was 6% lower than the general population—that’s 2.2 million votes not cast. The American Association of People with Disabilities works to protect the voting rights of Americans with disabilities and encourages them participate fully in the political process.
Donate: To AAPD’s REV UP Campaign.
I value decency.
Call: the El Paso Processing Center at 915-225-0775.
Script: I am calling to make three demands regarding the hunger strikers: First, release them immediately and grant a stay of removal. Second, re-open their cases on account of subjecting them to force-feeding, a human rights violation. And, finally, stop their deportation proceedings immediately. Thank you.
▢ Action 2: Support the end of force-feeding asylum seekers. [h/t Freedom for Immigrants]
Write: DHS Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen.
Script: In our country, people have a constitutional right to protest. When ICE denies detained people access to medical care and legal representation, a hunger protest is a nonviolent way for the voiceless to be heard. According to Physicians for Human Rights, force-feeding—ICE’s response to this protest—is “unethical, cruel, and inhumane.” DHS must ban this practice nationally and immediately.
Address: Department of Homeland Security, 3801 Nebraska Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20016
▢ Action 3: Oppose sending asylum seekers to Mexico. [h/t AILA]
Call: Your one House rep and two senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP]. For reasons both practical and ethical, I join with AILA in opposing the government’s so-called Migrant Protection Protocols. It is unreasonable to send people outside of the U.S. to Mexico during their immigration proceedings. This only “jeopardize[s] meaningful access to asylum and other humanitarian protections under our [nation’s] immigration laws.” I want [NAME] to end MPP. Let our communities support vulnerable people while their case is determined.
Address: Department of Homeland Security, 3801 Nebraska Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20016
▢ Action 4: Write a letter to Kimba in ICE detention.
Write: Kimba is one of many people our friend Susan K. visits at the ICE detention facility in Lumpkin, GA. Thanks to her, we’ve written to many people there in the past. This month, let’s all shine a light in Kimba’s life. Send a colorful postcard, hopeful stories in a sealed envelope, and/or kid’s drawings (marker, pencil, or crayon). Writing in Portuguese would be a treat, but English works. (This is a correction from an earlier request for French.)
Address: Kimba Pedro Ngana, A# 216267806, P.O. Box 248, Lumpkin, GA 31815
Deep breath innnnnnn… Deep breath ouuuuuuuut… Breathing is good for you!
Acts of Gratitude
Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.
Thank Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for calling for the defunding of ICE until it ends its abusive treatment of migrants and asylum-seekers. [Share why you appreciate opposition to ICE’s actions.]Address: 74-09 37th Avenue, Suite 305, Jackson Heights, NY 11372
Thank Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) for refusing to participate in “political theater” by recalling California National Guard troops from the U.S.-Mexico border. [Share why you appreciate actions that support immigration and oppose racism.]Address: 1303 10th Street, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814
Thank Mayor Eric Garcetti for ordering Los Angeles police to scale back vehicle stops after an LA Times investigation showed officers stopping African-American drivers at five times the rate of the general population. [Let the Mayor know why you value fairness in law enforcement.]Address: 200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look. #GoodNews
- Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Raúl Grijalva work to repeal minimum-wage and overtime-pay exemptions for farm workers with the Fairness for Farm Workers Act.
- The House Judiciary Committee acts on gun violence through hearings for the bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would require background checks for all firearm sales and most firearm transfers.
- Last year, American schools worked harder to increase participation in free and reduced school breakfast.
- The Supreme Court issues a temporary stay and blocks a law which would have left only one abortion provider in the entire state of Louisiana.
- Hope for future transgender trafficking cases: Christina Lopez, a transgender survivor of human trafficking, is released from ICE detention and granted a trafficking visa.
- States are investing in firearm violence prevention research to inform public health, criminal justice, and community development policy.
- WA: Begins to offer new parents 16 weeks of paid leave.
- VA has restored voting rights to more than 10,000 returning citizens in the past year.
- VA: The state senate unanimously approves a bipartisan commission to draw election district maps.
- OH Secretary of State Frank LaRose invites voters back by mailing voter registration forms to 270,000 Ohioans removed from state voting rolls due to six years of inactivity.
- An Indiana county will replace all its faulty voting machines in time for May primary elections.
- Philadelphia is training 300 prosecutors to minimize the risk of deportation for low risk and non-violent offenders.
- Tacoma (WA) teens model civility with hopes of leading the larger community in solutions-oriented political discourse.
- Communities along the United States-Mexico border resist federal narratives of life on the border.
Corporate, groups, and organizations
- TIME magazine releases its second special issue devoted to optimism, guest-edited by Ava DuVernay—only the second guest editor in 96 years.
- Gun safety groups’ 2018 midterm election expenditures exceed those of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun-rights groups.
- A Tulsa nonprofit reconnects kids with parents who are incarcerated.
News with heart
- A refugee shares his love for the America that welcomed him.
- Three brothers start an eco-friendly candle company and attract a major retailer.
- Eva Ramón Gallegos, a Mexican scientist, finds a cure to the Human Papilloma Virus.
- Last August, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, protested climate change outside the Swedish parliament building. This week, tens of thousands of European kids protested en masse, inspired by her example.
- See more good news at Small Victories, Good Black News, and What Went Right.
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