What to do this week of March 1, 2020

by | Mar 2, 2020 | What To Do This Week | Comments

172 weeks down, 35 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 1: Speak up to prevent housing discrimination. [h/t National Fair Housing Alliance]

Submit a comment in your own words on the Federal Register by March 16 to support retention of the current Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule requiring that jurisdictions receiving federal funds follow processes to ensure non-discrimination and work against segregation in housing. 1) Introduce yourself. 2) Share a story of how you or a loved one are impacted by fair housing policy and/or why you support it based on your values. 3) Review this article and personalize the points below. (Scripted comments are not counted.)

    • The proposed new rule barely mentions discrimination and conflates the idea of “fair housing” with “affordable housing,” thereby removing protections against housing discrimination and segregation.
    • It removes the requirement for community participation and engagement on fair housing issues, further disenfranchising the communities the AFFH rule is meant to help.
    • It eliminates the requirement to analyze the local conditions that contribute to housing discrimination and segregation.
    • It threatens policies, such as those around rent stabilization policies and environmental protections, that can promote housing stability and safety.
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Call: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).

Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP] to express my concern that so many nonviolent criminals are serving life sentences, 80% of them people of color. The Second Look Act (H.R. 3795/S. 2146) would appoint federal judges to consider petitions for sentence reduction after individuals have served at least 10 years, restoring people to communities and saving considerable resources. Can I count on [NAME] to co-sponsor this bill?

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Action 3: Speak up to protect people and ecosystems. [h/t Hip Hop Caucus]

Write or call: North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, 20301 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-0301; (919) 814-2000; to ask that he revoke a key certificate and cancel the North Carolina leg of the Atlantic Coast pipeline that would transport fracked fuel through WV, VA, and NC.

Review this article and cite your values to convey a message in your own words:

    • The pipeline would disproportionately harm low income, African American, and Indigenous communities (especially the Lumbee community in Robeson County, the largest community of Native Americans east of the Mississippi River), many of whom have been excluded from important decision-making processes.
    • Living near pipelines and infrastructure (such as compressor stations) has been documented to cause a variety of health issues including skin, gastrointestinal, respiratory, neurological, and psychological problems.
    • There are also grave concerns about maintaining historic tribal artifacts, and harm to wetlands, rivers, farmland, forests, and wildlife.
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Action 4: Advocate for legislation that challenges racial and religious discrimination. [h/t RAICESMuslim Advocates]

Call: Your one House rep (look up).

Script: Hello, I’m calling from [ZIP] to express my continued support for the NO BAN Act, which challenges the current administration’s authority to enact or expand on travel bans that specifically target majority-Muslim countries. We cannot allow any branch of government to create policies based on discrimination and bigotry, especially with no evidence of a threat to national security or public safety. I would like [NAME] to co-sponsor H.R. 2214 and vote in favor of the bill when it comes to the House floor.

Bonus: If your representative has already co-sponsored this bill (check here), reach out to say thank you.

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Action 5: Demand an end to unethical therapy practices in asylum cases. [h/t Never Again Action]

Write or Call: Alex Azar, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2707 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20528-0525; 202-690-7000; and Chad F. Wolf, Acting Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20201; (call via DHS comment line) 202-282-8495.

Script: Hello, I’m [writing/calling] from [ZIP] because I’m deeply concerned about the way Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is using therapy against young aspiring Americans. The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is actively violating patient confidentiality by sharing notes from detained children’s mandatory therapy sessions with ICE officials, who then use them as a tool during immigration proceedings, twisting recollections of traumatic life events to cast a negative light on the children’s asylum cases. I am joining the American Psychological Association, National Social Workers Association, and American Counseling Association in condemning this unethical practice, and in calling for its immediate discontinuation.

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Action 6: Advocate for a fair and reliable immigration court system. [h/t Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project]

Call: Or write your two senators and one House rep (look up).

Script: Hello, I’m calling from [ZIP] to express my support for an immigration court that operates independently from the Justice Department. Our current system encourages biased and rushed decision-making processes, undermines due process and judicial independence, and subverts the rights of aspiring Americans to a fair hearing. I would like [NAME] to join the American Bar Association, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Federal Bar Association, and National Association of Immigration Judges in calling for an independent immigration court. Thank you.

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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: Support voting rights for Native Americans.

Call: Your one House rep and two senators (look up).

Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling because I’m dismayed by the unique forms of voter suppression experienced by Native Americans. The Native American Voting Rights Act of 2019, endorsed by nonpartisan human rights groups across the U.S., would help dismantle barriers to voting for these citizens. Can I count on [NAME] to co-sponsor H.R. 1694/S. 739? Thank you.

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Action 8: Expand polling places on college campuses. [h/t Alliance for Youth Action]

College students face special challenges when it comes to voting. The Alliance for Youth Organizing, through their +1 the Polls project, helps college students organize to establish new polling sites on college campuses nationwide.

Donate: To the Alliance for Youth Organizing here.

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Action 9: Encourage high school students to register to vote. [h/t When We All Vote]

Call: Your local high school.

Script: Hi. I’m a resident of [TOWN] and I want to encourage your 18-year-old students to register to vote. When We All Vote’s Prom Challenge will be awarding $5000 each to 20 high schools that come up with creative ways to integrate voter registration drives with their senior proms. Can [SCHOOL] apply by the March 13 deadline? Your future voters thank you.

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Action 10: Register and vote in your state’s 2020 presidential primary election. [h/t Vote.org]

Check: Voter ID requirements in your state (also available in Spanish). 

Bonus: Remind friends in these states with upcoming primaries to vote!

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Action 11: In Super Tuesday primary states, participate in democracy.

If you live in AL, AR, CA, CO, ME, MA, MN, NC, OK, TN, TX, UT, VT, or VA, this is your challenge on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday of this week: Do some or all of the actions below and share them everywhere you can. Achieving a balanced Congress brings our country’s leaders one step closer to accountability. Assuring that good candidates are on November’s ballot begins with the primaries. This only happens if we vote.

    • Offer a ride to the polls. Post on social media, email, or send a text: “Hey, I’m going to the polls on Tuesday to vote. Let me know if you want a ride.”
    • Mini-canvass. As you go about your day, ask the people you meet if they’re going to vote. Peer pressure motivates. Celebrate if they already have.
    • Get a sample ballot to check out candidates’ records
    • Check your state’s ID requirements
    • Check today that your name hasn’t been purged from voter rolls and that your information is accurate.
    • Check that your polling place is open and in the same location
    • Know what to say if you are turned away. If you’re registered but turned away at the polls, you have a legal right to a provisional ballot. Ask for and complete it.
    • If you are denied a provisional ballot—or you have other voting problems—contact:
        •  English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)
        •  Spanish/English: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682)
        •  Asian Languages/English: 1-888-API-VOTE (1-888-274-8683)
        •  Arabic/English: 1-844-YallaUS (1-844-925-5287)
    • If you have a choice, use a hand-marked paper ballotThis is the least hack-prone voting method.
    • Double check your ballot. Review any paper ballot, touchscreen, or printout. If you vote straight ticket on a machine, double check that all the candidates in the lineup are correct before completing the process. Any errors? Edit where possible or ask for help.
    • Bonus: Join When We All Vote’s texting team. If you want to remind people to get to the polls on Tuesday, this is an easy way to do it. Sign up here.

As you complete the actions above, please share them to empower others.

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Acts of Gratitude

Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.

Thank Dave Leach, CEO of Greyhound Lines, Inc., for committing to due process for all passengers by requiring that ICE agents produce warrants before boarding buses. [Share why you appreciate protecting all customers’ civil liberties.]

Address: P.O. Box 660362, Dallas, TX 75266

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Thank Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey for pausing a municipal ID program to ensure it won’t be inappropriately used to target immigrants. [Share why you value protecting our communities.]

Address: 350 South 5th Street, Room 331, Minneapolis, MN 55415

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Thank Reps. Katie Porter (D-CA) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) for protecting children’s lives by investigating car booster seat manufacturer Evenflo for putting young children in danger. [Share why valuing children’s lives over profit is important to you.]

Addresses: 

KP: 2151 Michelson Drive, Suite 195, Irvine, CA 92612

RK: 1701 East Woodfield Rd., Suite 704, Schaumburg, IL 60173

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Thank Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor for her recent dissent regarding the administration’s unprecedented use of the Supreme Court to allow contested and pending legal matters to proceed in lower courts before they are finally decided. [Share why you value an independent Supreme Court.]

Address: 1 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20543

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Thank Rosebud Episcopal Mission (West) Rev. Dr. Lauren R. Stanley for advocating that all children be accepted for who they are with powerful testimony that helped stop discriminatory state legislation from proceeding. [Share why you appreciate leaving decisions about gender-affirming medical treatment to youth, families, and their medical caregivers.]

Address: P.O. Box 256, Mission, SD 57555-0256

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Thank singer-songwriter and entrepreneur Rihanna for amplifying the importance of voting. [Share why you appreciate using a personal platform to amplify our obligation to be active, compassionate citizens.]

Address: ℅ Amanda Silverman, 220 West 42nd St, 12th floor, NY, NY 10036

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Good news

Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look. #GoodNews

National

  • Federal court rules that the administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy is “invalid in its entirety,” and that people seeking asylum must be allowed into the U.S. while their cases are decided.
  • Congress passes the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act, which designates lynching as a federal hate crime, with bipartisan support.
  • Senate passes a binding resolution limiting the president’s ability to declare war on Iran without congressional consent.
  • Federal court rules conditions in overcrowded CBP holding cells in its Tucson sector violate the Constitution and bars the agency from holding people for more than 48 hours after processing.
  • House passes the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act, designating 1.3 million acres of public land as wilderness and adding 1,000-plus river miles to the Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
  • U.S. District Court rejects an administration rule change designed to strip Flores Settlement protections from aspiring American children and enable the government to detain them indefinitely.
  • Federal appeals court unanimously rules that Health and Human Services doesn’t have the authority to require some Medicaid enrollees to work in order to receive coverage.
  • Congressional leaders call for the immediate removal of Stephen Miller from his role as senior White House advisor due to his racist and xenophobic policy proposals.
  • Department of Justice seeks temporary restraining orders against firms engaging in predatory robocalls.

State

  • FL: Appeals court rules Florida cannot bar returning citizens from voting over unpaid fees.
  • MS: Appeals court strikes down a state ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, finding the ban unconstitutional.
  • NC: Appeals court blocks a state voter ID law, finding it would disproportionately negatively impact African-American voters.
  • ND enters into a binding consent decree with two Native American tribes, ensuring that tribal members can vote without an ID that shows a residential address.
  • NY state bans luxury property developers from installing separate doors for low-income tenants.
  • NY: 6,000 fewer people are in jail in the state than in January 2019, following the passage of bail reform measures.
  • UT enacts an environmental plan to reduce emissions affecting local air quality and the global climate.
  • VA: Gov. Ralph Northam signs a law granting parole eligibility for individuals who have served 20 years in prison and who were under the age of 18 at the time of their offenses.
  • A coalition of state attorneys general files an amicus brief against the administration’s illegal and contradictory policies toward people seeking asylum.

Local

  • LA County Board votes to eliminate many criminal justice fees and to forgive related debt.
  • 2,200 individuals residing in LA County jails are eligible to vote under a new program.
  • McFarland, CA residents prevent the conversion of two state prisons into immigration detention centers.
  • Hundreds of people convicted in San Diego of entering the country without documentation will have their cases overturned, and thousands more will have the chance to appeal their convictions.
  • Waco, TX City Council unanimously votes down a permit to convert a building into a detention center to hold aspiring American children.

Corporate/business

  • Greyhound will no longer allow warrantless checks of the immigration status of its passengers.
  • Financial firm Endeavour Capital exits the bail-bond industry under activist pressure.
  • Flikshop app connects incarcerated individuals to their loved ones with personalized postcards.

Groups and organizations

  • Spread the Vote creator Kay Calvin is featured in TIME Magazine along with other activists and organizations.
  • Former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts launches Black News network with the goal of providing broader perspective for the African-American community.
  • Fifty-four organizations call on Congress to establish an independent immigration court outside of the Department of Justice to guarantee due process for aspiring Americans.
  • HIAS website connects people granted asylum to resources such as health insurance, employment programs, and English classes.
  • Immigration rights organizations file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to obtain ICE records of civil rights violations and abuses before ICE destroys those records.
  • KinoBorder expands services and outreach with new Nogales aid center for aspiring Americans.
  • Al Otro Lado wins against DHS’s attempt to throw out class-action lawsuit against ICE over the cruel and inept medical treatment of detained people with disabilities.
  • The nonprofit Senior Planet sponsors workshops teaching older adults how to spot and fact-check misleading or false “news.”

News with heart

  • The New York Philharmonic commissions compositions by 19 women in honor of the 19th Amendment’s ratification 100 years ago.
  • Shellie Cole-Mickens provides safe, stable housing for formerly incarcerated women.
  • Lomi Kriel receives the Polk Award for National Reporting for revealing significant aspects of the administration’s immigration policy, including separation of children from their families.
  • Elementary school community raises money to buy custodian Robert Reed a new truck so he can comfortably drive to work instead of making a four-hour commute via public transportation.
  • MassArt opens a new contemporary art museum that is free to the public.
  • Jeff Bezos pledges $10 billion to combat the climate crisis.
  • Every bushfire in New South Wales, Australia is now under control.
  • Sabrina Ionescu is the first NCAA basketball player of any gender to reach the milestone of 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 1,000 assists in a career.

See more good news at Women in the WorldSmall VictoriesGood Black News, and What Went Right.

Housekeeping

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