What to do this week of February 2, 2020
168 weeks down, 39 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.
Note: Every action on the AoC Checklist is now *clickable*. Help us track our collective impact by clicking any action you complete within two weeks of the publish date, and we’ll count it in our monthly tally.
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.
Call: Your one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m calling (again) from [ZIP], to express my opposition to the administration’s travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries. Before the president adds more countries to the list, Congress must pass the NO BAN Act (H.R. 2214). It not only ends the current ban, it also prohibits religious discrimination in our immigration policies and imposes needed checks on executive decisions in this area. I ask that [NAME] co-sponsor this legislation immediately and vote for its passage.
Action 2: Support expanded voting access for vulnerable communities. [h/t ACLU]
Call: Your two senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP], because I believe all Americans have the right to participate in our democracy. Voter turnout in the 2018 midterms reflected a nearly 5% gap between disabled and non-disabled voters, often due to inaccessible polling places. Many elderly people and non-native English speakers also experience barriers to voting. I’m asking [NAME] to co-sponsor the Accessible Voting Act of 2020 (S.3206), which will provide resources to address these issues at the state and local levels.
At a Martin Luther King Day observance in Columbus, OH, police arrested two people protesting the 2018 police shooting of a black teenager.
Write: Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther
Script: In your own words, using this template, ask him to request dismissal of criminal trespass charges against Dkeama Alexis and Mia Santiago.
Address: Columbus City Hall, 2nd Floor, 90 West Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43215.
Action 4: Advocate for asylum seekers’ lives. [h/t Freedom for Immigrants]
Call: ICE Field Director William Joyce at (504) 599-7800
*Calls may not go through, so consider writing the above at 30-35 Hackensack Avenue, Kearny, NJ 07032
Call: Deputy ICE Field Director Caridad Cephas-Kimbrough at (504) 599-7889
Script: I am calling to make two demands regarding the LaSalle Detention Facility asylum seekers who are hunger striking to reclaim their dignity and basic freedom. First, stop subjecting them to force-feeding or force-hydration, a human rights violation that defies medical ethical guidelines and basic decency. Second, release them immediately to receive urgent medical attention and be with their loved ones while their legal asylum cases are proceeding. Thank you.
Submit a written comment in your own words: by Monday, February 10th at 11:59pm EST on Regulations.gov via the blue “Comment Now!” button, 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 a new fee to seek asylum in the U.S.
- The administration seeks to divert over $200 million of USCIS and other DHS 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 6: Stop feeding corporate profit by criminalizing people seeking safety and a better life. [h/t Detention Watch]
Write: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m writing to express my frustration at extending federal private prison contracts in Texas for another 10 years with my tax dollars. If these contracts are approved, it will further link Texas to an already bloated and deadly detention system. Detention of immigrants strips people of their dignity, is expensive, and unnecessary to ensure court appearances. I demand [NAME] votes no on extending contracts for both the South Texas Detention Complex, the T. Don Hutto Detention Center, and the Houston Processing Center. Thank you.
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 and fairly elect those who represent their values.
Action 7: Register and vote in your state’s 2020 presidential primary election. [h/t Vote.org]
Arizona: Register by mail, in-person, or online by February 18 for the March 17 primary election (registered Democrats only; no Republican primary). Any registered voter can request a mail-in ballot, and early voting is available.
California: Register by mail or online by February 18 for the March 3 primary election. Any registered voter can request a mail-in ballot if the request is received by February 25, and early voting is available (dates vary by county).
Florida: Register by mail, in-person, or online by February 18 for the March 17 primary election. Any registered voter can request a mail-in ballot by March 7, and early voting is available March 7-14.
Idaho: Register by mail or online by February 14 for the March 10 primary election, with same-day registration available at polling places. Any registered voter can request a mail-in ballot by February 28, and early voting is available in some counties February 24-March 6.
Illinois: Register by mail by February 18 or online by March 1 for the March 17 primary election, with election-day in-person registration also available. Any registered voter can request a mail-in ballot by March 12, and early voting is available February 6-March 16.
Michigan: Register by mail or online by February 24. Same-day registration is available for the March 10 primary election. Any registered voter can request a mail-in ballot by March 6, and early voting is available through March 9.
Minnesota: Register by mail or online by February 11. Same-day registration is available at polling places for the March 3 primary election. Any registered voter can request a mail-in ballot, and early voting is available through March 2.
North Carolina: Register by mail by February 7 or in-person by February 29 for the March 3 primary election. Any registered voter can request a mail-in ballot by February 25, and early voting is available February 12-28.
Utah: Register online by February 25 for the all-mail March 3 primary election. Mailed ballots must be postmarked March 2 or earlier, but election-day registration and mail-ballot drop-off will also be available at polling places on March 3.
Bonus: Remind friends in these states with upcoming primaries to vote!
Action 8: Keep foreign interests from interfering with our elections. [h/t Brennan Center]
Call: Your one House rep and two senators (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m calling (again) from [ZIP] because I believe online political ads should be subject to the same disclosure requirements as TV and radio ads. The Honest Ads Act would mandate such disclosure, and would ban foreign entities from secretly buying political ads to interfere in our elections. Can I count on [NAME] to co-sponsor S. 1356 / H.R. 2592, which already has strong bipartisan support? Thank you.
Action 9: Support online voter registration in your state.
If you live in: AR, ME, MI, MS, MT, NH, NC, ND, SD, TX, WY: Contact your two state legislators (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m calling from [ZIP] to support online voter registration. Can I count on [NAME] to help [STATE] join 39 other states and the District of Columbia by introducing a bill like New Jersey’s recent S. 589 that would allow eligible voters to register to vote online? Thank you.
If you live in any other state, consider donating to Spread the Vote to support their voter-registration efforts nationwide.
Acts of Gratitude
Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.
Thank Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) for working to increase voting accessibility for all Americans, especially disabled, elderly and indigenous people, and those with limited English proficiency. [Share why you appreciate strengthening the integrity of the vote.]
BC: 2000 Market Street, Suite 610, Philadelphia, PA 19103
AK: 1200 Washington Avenue South, Room 250, Minneapolis, MN 55415
Thank Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), and Veronica Escobar (D-TX) for calling on USCIS to abandon a pilot program collecting DNA from aspiring Americans. [Share why you value respecting the human right to privacy.]
RT: 7700 2nd Ave., 4th Floor, Detroit, MI 48202
JC: 727 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., #B-128, San Antonio, TX 78206
VE: 3011 Yandell Dr., El Paso, TX 79903
Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look. #GoodNews
- Senate passes the Broadband DATA Act, which will improve the accuracy of broadband maps and lead to high-speed internet access in more rural areas.
- Federal court finds aspiring Americans have a right to in-person access to their attorneys before and during non-refoulement interviews with CBP.
- Federal court rules ICE violated federal law by refusing to release documents about people who are not citizens and orders ICE to comply with the Freedom of Information Act.
- More than 140 lawmakers in the House and Senate sign a statement against a “harmful and unjustified” administration proposal that could see thousands lose their disability benefits.
- House files an amicus brief against proposed SNAP work requirements.
- Senate Judiciary Committee agrees to hold off on hearings and votes on judicial nominees for the duration of the presidential impeachment trial.
- AZ: Court rules that Arizona’s ban on mail-in ballots is illegal and unconstitutional, finding it intentionally discriminatory towards people of color.
- MO Supreme Court upholds a decision forbidding the Secretary of State from publishing information indicating photo identification is required to vote.
- NJ passes a law ending prison gerrymandering; when the state next redraws its legislative districts, it will count incarcerated people at their most recent residence.
- PA court rules that families detained by ICE at Berks have the right to participate in a legal challenge to the facility’s childcare license.
- RI’s public pension fund will no longer invest public money in for-profit prison companies or companies that manufacture assault weapons for civilian use.
- RI: Gov. Gina Raimondo signs an executive order committing the state to be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity by the end of the decade.
- SC election officials change a rule requiring voter registration applicants to submit their full Social Security numbers.
- WI: Gov. Tony Evers signs an executive order creating a nonpartisan commission to draw new legislative maps in 2021.
- New York City Council determines stores in NYC must accept cash, making shopping accessible to those who are unable or unwilling to use other forms of payment.
- Cincinnati passes legislation requiring landlords to offer accessible alternatives to lump-sum security deposits.
- San Francisco ends the use of money bail by prosecutors as a condition for pretrial detention.
- Darlene Lombos is elected leader of the Greater Boston Labor Council, becoming the first woman and first person of color to head the council in its 62-year history.
- Edgar Torres Gutierrez is awarded $18,750 in a settlement with the city of Laguna Beach after being held by local police for ICE despite his status as a DACA recipient.
- Contra Costa County, CA’s Hazardous Materials Commission creates a board position specifically to advocate for communities facing environmental justice issues.
- Microsoft pledges to become 100% “carbon-negative” by 2030 by removing more carbon from the environment than it emits.
- The Guardian refuses advertising from oil and gas companies, becoming the first major global news organization to outright ban ads from companies that extract fossil fuels.
Groups and organizations
- Eagle Rock, CA church pays off $5.3M in medical debt for thousands of low-income households.
- New York City Bar Association calls on Congress to launch an investigation into Attorney General William Barr, saying his public remarks threaten “public confidence in the fair and impartial administration of justice.”
- Hundreds of Amazon workers publicly protest the company’s lack of sufficient action against the climate crisis.
- AILA, in partnership with the city of San Antonio, will hold a free citizenship workshop on February 1.
- The Puentes Libres project connects people seeking asylum who have been forced to wait in Mexico with lawyers in the U.S. via teleconferencing.
- Migrant Justice Platform proposes radical changes to immigration policies, including a moratorium on all deportations, detentions, checkpoints, and raids; immediate legal status for all aspiring Americans living in the U.S.; and decriminalization of border crossings.
- Coalition of 90 community rights organizations demands the release of all transgender people from ICE custody, citing the unique harms detention causes transgender aspiring Americans.
- The Archdiocese of Dubuque provides affordable legal services for aspiring Americans through Catholic Charities’ Immigration Legal Services.
- AILA hosts a National Day of Action on March 5 in Washington, D.C. to advocate for USCIS accountability, immigration court reform, and due process for aspiring Americans.
- All 16 of Texas’ Catholic bishops condemn Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to refuse to resettle people seeking refuge in the state in 2020.
- Violet Protest launches a project to send 50 handmade textile squares to each and every member of Congress in support of core American values.
News with heart
- Hennepin County, MN deputies now hand out vouchers to help pay for repairs instead of fix-it tickets.
- Nine parents who recently reunited with their children in the U.S. will have their asylum cases reheard a year and a half after being separated and deported under administration policy.
- Manuel Amaya Portillo, an asylum seeker with a severe physical disability that put his life at risk in Honduras, is released from ICE detention to join his sponsor family.
- An aspiring American sent to Tijuana under the administration’s so-called “Remain In Mexico” policy wins her own asylum after arguing her case in court without access to an attorney.
- Voters are less likely to vote for a candidate who endorses the administration’s ban on travelers from five Muslim-majority countries, according to an ISPU poll.
- Access to puberty blockers significantly reduces the risk of suicide among transgender youth, according to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Curtis Flowers is granted bail following his conviction being overturned by the Supreme Court after six prior trials.
- An institution that worked to systematically discredit childhood sexual abuse survivors officially dissolves.
- U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell by 2.1% in 2019.
- Astronaut Christina Koch sets a record for longest spaceflight by a woman.
- 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers is the first woman and the first openly LGBTQ coach to head to the Super Bowl.
- Alyssa Nakken joins the Giants coaching staff as an assistant coach, becoming the first woman to hold a coaching position in Major League Baseball.
- Seventeen-year-old high school student Wolf Cukier discovers a new planet three days into his NASA internship.
- With her past and present students supporting her at the ceremony, teacher Annmarie Small becomes a U.S. citizen.
- Fiona Apple will donate two years’ worth of royalties from her hit song “Criminal” to immigration rights group While They Wait.
- See more good news at Women in the World, Small Victories, Good Black News, and What Went Right.
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