What to do this week of December 15, 2019
176 weeks down, 47 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 equality.
Support the dignity of your rainbow of neighbors from every religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, and ability.
Action: Spread light this season.
Our team nominated this list of organizations doing good work in American democracy to spread light this season.
▢ Action: Advocate for children in need of adoption and foster care. [h/t National Center for Transgender Equality]
The current administration has introduced a rule that would allow agencies and organizations funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to discriminate against LGBTQ+ families and individuals. This would reduce the pool of qualified adoptive and foster parents, and prioritize discriminatory beliefs over the needs of the 400,000+ children in the foster care system.
Submit a comment: Through Every Child Deserves a Family by December 19th using these tips: 1) Introduce yourself. 2) State why you oppose the proposed rule based on your values and, if applicable, 3) Share a story about your experience with the adoption and/or foster care systems in the U.S.
▢ Action: Support healthy lunches for all students. [h/t Food Research & Action Center]
Call: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).
Script: Hello, I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling to express my support for the Universal School Meals Program Act. With one in seven children in America experiencing food insecurity in their homes, universal free meals can ensure that all children receive the nutrition they need for learning in a stigma-free environment. I would like [NAME] to end lunch shaming and co-sponsor S. 2609 / H.R. 4684. Thank you.
Submit a written comment in your own words: On Regulations.gov via the blue “Comment Now!” button by Monday, December 16th at 11:59pm ET stating why you oppose the proposed requirements based on your values and the points below.
- The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published its proposed fee schedule in November, revealing increases between 55-83% on existing fees for citizenship services, as well as the introduction of a new $50 fee to seek asylum in the U.S.
- The administration seeks to divert over $200 million of USCIS funding to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
- In recent years, USCIS case processing has slowed dramatically, due in significant part to the agency’s own inefficient policies. These fee hikes would charge aspiring Americans more money for continually declining service.
- Individuals currently protected by DACA would face even greater uncertainty as funding for their program is reallocated and renewal fees for protected status multiply.
- The proposed asylum fee would place a major burden on those who have already suffered tremendous hardship to reach our country, and directly contradicts our moral and constitutional obligation to provide sanctuary to those seeking it.
▢ Action: Support access to life-saving health care for those ICE has detained. [h/t Doctors for Camp Closure]
Call: Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, at the DHS Comment line: 202-282-8495
Call: Alex Azar, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services: 202-690-7000
Script: Hello, I’m calling from [ZIP] to express my disgust at Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) inexcusable arrests of doctors attempting to provide free flu vaccines to children detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) concentration camps. In addition to prioritizing intentional cruelty, denying life-saving vaccines to children being held in unsanitary conditions increases the risk of a major epidemic. In the past year alone, three children have died from the flu while in ICE custody. I urge [NAME] to allow Doctors for Camp Closure or some other healthcare organization to vaccinate detainees for the flu, in order to potentially save thousands of lives and prevent the spread of this virus within and outside of these detention centers.
▢ Action: Advocate for a path to legalization for farm workers who feed America. [h/t United Farm Workers]
Call: Sen. Lindsey Graham, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at 202-224-5972
Call: Dianne Feinstein, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee at 202-224-3841
Script: Hello, I’m from [ZIP] and calling because to support the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. This amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act would provide a majority of farm workers and their families with a path to legal citizenship, while reducing costs for growers. I would like [NAME] to use their role on the Senate Judiciary Committee to bring the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 for a committee vote. I believe we must support those whose labor feeds America. Thank you.
▢ Action: Advocate against dangerous and unlawful practices at the border. [h/t AILA]
Call: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).
Script: Hello, I’m calling from [ZIP] to express my continued concern about the expansion of the Remain in Mexico (RIM) policy, which denies vulnerable people their legal right to sanctuary in the U.S. Families and individuals are still being forced to wait in dangerous conditions, usually without legal representation, until they’re called to appear in an impersonal makeshift tent court that, unlawfully, does not allow public access. I expect [NAME] to take action to end RIM and, in the meantime, demand that these tent courts be opened to the public.
I value democracy.
With respect and collaboration, we work to create a nation that welcomes all people, expands freedoms, and upholds the Constitution. Each citizen must be able to freely, securely, and fairly elect those who represent their values.
▢ Action: Engage your elected officials during the upcoming congressional recess.
The congressional recess scheduled to begin December 16 isn’t a holiday break—it’s called a work period, and is intended to allow time for members of Congress to meet with their constituents (part of their job). Encourage them to hold town hall meetings during this time.
Call: The local offices of your two senators and one House rep: (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m a constituent from [ZIP]. Can you tell me when [NAME] is holding town hall meetings in [TOWN] during the December recess?
— If no meetings planned, add: It’s important for [NAME] to meet with their constituents. Can you let me know when they plan to hold the next town hall?
— If meetings planned: Thank you! I plan to be there.
▢ Action: Encourage college students home for the holidays to vote in the 2020 primary election. [h/t Campus Vote Project]
Young adults encounter many barriers to voting because they move more often than older adults, are less likely to have current identification, and are seldom contacted by traditional political campaigns. If you know any students, help them participate in democracy by telling them about the Campus Vote Project’s guides to student voting in every state.
▢ Action: Help your local college welcome student voters in 2020. [h/t Voter Friendly Campus]
Check to see whether your local college is listed as a Voter Friendly Campus. If no, send a note encouraging campus participation in the program. If yes, send a letter to the school’s president thanking them for supporting civic engagement.
Acts of Gratitude
Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.
Thank the Courageous Asylum Officer who recently resigned in protest of the current administration’s racist immigration policies. [Share why you appreciate people who live their humanitarian values despite personal cost.]Address: c/o Sen. Jeff Merkley, 121 SW Salmon Street, Suite 1400, Portland, OR 97204
Thank Art Acevedo, Houston Police Chief, for using his platform to advocate for the needs and rights of people protected by the Violence Against Women Act and for sensible gun safety laws. [Share why you appreciate the support of law enforcement officers who prioritize citizen safety over politics.]Address: Houston Police Department, 1200 Travis Street, Houston, TX 77002
Thank Geoff Babb, AdvenChair inventor, for expanding access to the outdoors for people who use wheelchairs. [Share why you appreciate removing barriers to more joy and adventure.]Address: The Onward Project LLC, 20841 SE Westview Dr., Bend, OR 97702
Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look. #GoodNews
- Senate passes a bipartisan bill to permanently fund historically black colleges.
- House passes a package of bills restoring certain protections of the Voting Rights Act.
- House passes the Esther Martinez Native Languages Programs Reauthorization Act, which provides tribal nations the critical resources needed to ensure Native languages continue to be spoken for generations.
- DOJ Inspector General’s report concludes that the FBI’s investigation into the president’s 2016 election campaign and its ties to Russia was evidence-based and not politically biased.
- The Cherokee Nation opens the largest tribal outpatient health facility in America in Tahlequah, OK.
- Federal court temporarily blocks DHS from implementing unlawful restrictions to USCIS citizenship applications, which would affect low-income applicants.
- Federal court blocks the administration’s plan to divert $3.6 billion in military funds to pay for a physical barrier at the U.S.-Mexico border.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs offers couples retreats to help former service members communicate effectively with their loved ones through the challenges of PTSD and other life stressors.
- Rep. Duncan Hunter resigns from Congress after pleading guilty to misusing campaign funds.
- CA launches its first statewide mental health line, providing non-emergency emotional support for those struggling with mental and emotional well-being.
- NJ police officers arrest fewer people for low-level crimes since the state eliminated its cash bail system.
- WA: Raquel Montoya-Lewis (Pueblo of Isleta) is appointed to the Washington State Supreme Court, becoming the first Native American to serve on the Court.
- Charlottesville, VA city council votes to remove a statue offensively depicting Sacagawea, Lemhi Shoshone.
- Las Cruces, NM Mayor Ken Miyagishima, along with the leaders of nearly 100 other cities, urges the administration to rescind a new cap on the number of people seeking refuge allowed into the U.S.
- Honolulu passes a bill banning most single-use plastics.
- Human Rights Campaign’s annual Municipal Equality Index finds LGBTQ-inclusive cities in traditionally conservative states across the U.S.
- Merriam-Webster announces that the personal pronoun “they” is the 2019 word of the year.
- Wedding planning sites Zola and Brides pledge to stop promoting plantations as wedding venues.
- LEGO will make all its bricks from biodegradable hemp plastic by 2030.
Groups and organizations
- Doctors for Camp Closure pledge to return daily to a CBP detention camp until they are permitted to administer flu vaccines to children detained there.
- A scientific study from the Forum of International Respiratory Societies finds that cutting air pollution can reduce harmful health outcomes substantially within weeks.
- Tribal Steward Program introduces young people to land conservation and restoration in northwest tribal communities.
- College students across the country protest campus recruiting events by tech companies with ICE or CBP contracts due to those agencies’ abuse of aspiring Americans.
- Athena, a coalition of dozens of grassroots groups, organizes against Amazon’s digital surveillance practices and dangerous warehouse conditions.
News with heart
- Charlotte Nebres is cast as Marie in the New York City Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, becoming the first black performer in the role for the ballet company.
- Greta Thunberg is named Time’s Person of the Year for her work in global environmental activism.
- Chicago Public School students who start learning English in kindergarten go on to academically match or surpass their peers by middle school.
- A restaurant owner arrested by ICE is released on bail.
- The Trotwood-Madison high school football team wins their state championship, bringing their community together in celebration after tornadoes ravaged the city last May.
- Kennedy Center Honor recipient Linda Ronstadt uses her celebrity platform to speak out against the Secretary of State for his enabling of the president’s misconduct.
- Justine Dupont breaks the surfing world record for biggest wave ever ridden by a woman.
- Asma Shuweikh defends Jewish children from anti-Semitic abuse on the London subway.
- Samaria Rice and ACLU create the Tamir Rice Safety Handbook, a guide in Tamir’s honor to lead children through the stress of police interactions.
- 5-year-old Michael’s entire kindergarten class attends his adoption hearing.
- See more good news at Women in the World, Small Victories, Good Black News, and What Went Right.
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