What to do this week of April 19, 2020

by Apr 20, 2020What To Do This Week0 comments

179 weeks down, 28 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 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 1: Make a self-care plan.

Make a cuppa, grab a pen, and spend ten minutes with this worksheet.

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Action 2: Learn how to vote by mail in your state. [h/t Political Charge]

It’s possible to vote by mail in nearly every state. If the pandemic continues, secure voting by mail will become crucial. Check your state’s vote-by-mail rules today.

Bonus: Share this action on social media!

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Action 3: Be counted. [h/t League of Women Voters]

Take part in the census online, by phone, or by mail before June 1, to avoid the need for an in-person visit from a census worker (this protects you and census workers from COVID-19). Fair representation starts with a fair count to ensure that your state receives its allocation of federal resources, and appropriate congressional representation. States at risk of losing a district if the population is undercounted include AL, CA, IL, MI, MN, NY, OH, PA, RI, and WV.

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Action 4: Advocate for safe polling places for Native Americans. [h/t Brennan Center]

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

Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling because one of the unique forms of voter suppression experienced by Native Americans is a lack of polling sites on reservations for those who can’t vote by mail. The Native American Voting Rights Act of 2019, endorsed by nonpartisan human rights groups across the U.S., would provide for these sites. Can I count on [NAME] to co-sponsor H.R. 1694/S. 739? Thank you.

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Action 5: Check your state’s voter ID requirements and primary dates. [h/t Vote.org]

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

Check: The dates below and ensure that your normal polling place open (important due to rapidly changing coronavirus-related closures).

Bonus: Call up your friends in these states and remind them to vote in  upcoming primaries!

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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 6: Support safe shopping for SNAP recipients. [h/t Civil Eats]

Grocery shopping in person is a health risk, but only 11 states currently participate in the Department of Agriculture’s program to allow online SNAP shopping

Part 1: Email your governor (look up). 

Script: I’m writing to express concern for SNAP recipients who must risk their health (and their children’s) by shopping in person for food and supplies. I’m asking [NAME] to work with our state’s USDA Food and Nutrition Service regional office to expedite the online purchasing option here. Lives really do depend on it. Thank you. [In AL, IA, NE, NY, OR, WA, FL, ID, CA, AZ, and OH, thank your governor for your state’s participation]

Part 2: Email your two senators (look up).

Script: I’m writing to express concern for SNAP recipients who must risk their health by shopping in person for food and supplies, often with children along. I’m asking [NAME] to co-sponsor the Food Assistance for Kids and Families During COVID-19 Act (S. 3563), which would allow SNAP and WIC benefits to be used for grocery delivery and extend WIC benefits for children and postpartum women. Thank you. 

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Action 7: Speak up for the health of people currently incarcerated. [h/t Sentencing Project]

Contact: Your governor (look upand county sheriff (search “contact [county, state] sheriff”).

Script: As a resident of [NAME] County, I’m concerned that the confined spaces and poor hygiene in jails puts incarcerated people and corrections staff at risk for contracting COVID-19. If you have not already done so, I ask that you strategize with law enforcement colleagues and courts to quickly reduce the jail population and prevent mass illness and loss of life. Thank you. 

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Action 8: Call for additional pandemic protections.  [h/t Women’s MarchClimate Justice AllianceNational Council for Behavioral Health]

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

Script: I’m writing from [ZIP] because I care about the pandemic’s effects on everyday Americans. Specifically, I ask you to support the following in the next coronavirus bill: 

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Action 9: Show support for releasing children from ICE detention. [h/t MomsRising]

With the coronavirus an acute risk for people in crowded detention centers, it’s time to release children from ICE custody. Most already have family or community sponsors available to care for them.

Create a butterfly to represent release using folded paper materials or coloring pages

Share a photo of your creation on social media using the hashtags #familiesbelongtogether #safeandtogether #butterflyeffectmigration #COVID19 and tagging organizations like @momsrising, @effectmigration, @icegov, @cbp, @whitehouse, @ACFHHS, as well as your Congress members.

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Action 10: Advocate for the release of detained asylum seekers. [h/t United We Dream]

Call: The Houston ICE Field Office at 1-281-774-4816 (updated)
EmailHouston.Outreach@ice.dhs.gov

Script: Hello, I’m calling from [STATE] because I’m concerned about the safety of the people that ICE is currently detaining. With limited space and resources in detention centers making proper hygiene and social distancing impossible, and at least one confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in your facility, it is only a matter of time before this virus spreads to countless vulnerable detainees and staff. I am joining with thousands of medical professionals and human rights advocates to ask for the immediate release of all people from custody to their families, and a moratorium on all ICE raids during this global pandemic. Thank you.

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Action 11: Advocate for the wellbeing of detained children. [h/t KIND]

Call: The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) at 703-305-0289.

Or write: U.S. Dept. of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review, Communications and Legislative Affairs Division, 5107 Leesburg Pike, 18th Floor, Falls Church, VA 22041.

Script: Hello, I’m [calling/writing] from [ZIP] because I am appalled that immigration courts are still operating in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic. Forcing children, attorneys, and judges to appear in court⁠—and provide their own personal protective equipment—threatens lives. I am joining advocacy organizations in asking you to save lives by immediately following CDC guidelines and closing immigration courts during this public health crisis.

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Action 12: Call for adequate safety measures in ICE facilities. [h/t AILA]

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

Script: Dear [NAME], I’m writing from [ZIP] because the inaction of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding COVID-19 is unacceptable. I would like you to make a public statement calling for the closure of detention centers and immigration courts, access to counsel, and existing status protection for detained aspiring Americans during this time of crisis. Thank you.

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Action 13: Advocate for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for asylum seekers. [h/t VIA]

Email: Your two senators (look up).

Script: Hello, I’m writing from [ZIP] to express my support for the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019, which allows Venezuelan nationals to seek refuge in the United States due to the human rights violations committed by their government. Granting TPS to these asylum seekers would greatly reduce the backlogs within USCIS, reduce headcount in detention centers, and reduce the spread of COVID-19. Now that H.R. 549 has passed in the House, I am joining hundreds of organizations in asking you to support this legislation. Thank you.

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Acts of Gratitude

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

Thank Beth Ford, CEO of Land O’Lakes, for removing imagery from the brand’s label that was culturally insensitive towards Native Americans. [Share why respect for indigenous American cultures is important to you.]

Address: 4001 Lexington Ave N, Arden Hills, MN 55126-2998

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Thank Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Alcee Hastings (D-FL) for leading 93 Representatives to ensure the CARES 2 package includes significant aid for people experiencing homelessness because they are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. [Share why lending support to vulnerable communities is important to you.]

Addresses

EBJ: 3102 Maple Avenue, Suite 600, Dallas, TX 75201

AH: 2701 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Suite 200, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311

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Thank Reps. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), and Bennie Thompson (D-MS) of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs for their letter advocating for the right to seek asylum in the U.S. and holding the administration accountable for its anti-immigration agenda. [Share why protecting the rights of asylum seekers is important to you.]

Addresses

ELE: 3655 Johnson Avenue, Bronx, NY 10463

JN: 201 Varick Street, Suite 669, New York, NY 10014

BT: P.O. Box 610, Bolton, MS 39041

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Thank Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA), for agreeing to distribute $500 checks to aspiring Americans ineligible for federal stimulus checks in response to financial concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic. [Share why compassionate leadership towards all U.S. residents is important to you.]

Address: 1303 10th Street, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814

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Good news

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

National

  • U.S. court requires ORR and ICE to promptly release detained children to suitable sponsors amid pandemic.
  • Houseless Americans will be able to access pandemic-related Economic Impact Payments with the IRS’s new online tool for individuals who don’t file tax returns. 
  • Federal court rules that immigration enforcement officials must allow confidential telephone calls between aspiring Americans at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center and their attorneys in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Federal court blocks the administration’s rollback of school lunch nutrition guidelines.
  • U.S. court orders ICE to release 20+ aspiring Americans with chronic medical conditions from two Pennsylvania detention centers with confirmed COVID-19 cases.
  • The administration will not push for stricter work requirements for SNAP recipients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Eighteen members of Congress condemn the administration’s decision to remove the Mashpee Wampanoag’s lands from federal trust in a letter to Senate leadership.
  • Senators call for an investigation into the firing of Navy Capt. Brett Crozier after he raised concerns about a COVID-19 outbreak aboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt.

State

Local

  • Hartford, CT Public Library offers special programming on linguistics, civic integration, academics, and economic stability for new and aspiring Americans through their We Belong Here initiative.
  • Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot signs an order ensuring that aspiring Americans and people seeking refuge have access to COVID-19 relief provided by city.
  • Fund in Oakland provides financial assistance to aspiring Americans ineligible for federal coronavirus relief checks.

Corporate/business: 

  • Ocean State Job Lot donates food to Pawtucket residents.
  • USAA⁩ is returning $520M in auto insurance premiums to its customers. 
  • Cinespace Film Studios has dedicated 20,000 square feet of studio space to storing nonperishable groceries for struggling families.
  • Walt Disney World donates 200 lilies to Florida seniors for Easter.
  • LyftUp creates a network of more than 500 partners to offer access to free transportation for vulnerable communities, critical workers, and critical supplies. 
  • Events DC gives $15 million disaster relief fund to help restaurant and hotel workers and tax-paying undocumented immigrants who are ineligible for unemployment benefits or government assistance during shutdowns.
  • CFG Healthcare Systems provides COVID-19 tests to all people in the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark, NJ to curb its spread in close quarters.
  • The Four Seasons Hotel becomes a dorm to house hospital staff in NY.

Groups and organizations

  • new report addresses the lack of voter fraud in U.S. elections, especially in elections administered through vote-by-mail. 
  • ACLU lawsuit against ICE in PA results in court ordering all of their clients released to social distance at home.
  • World Central Kitchen and RESCUE launch a new delivery program to get fresh meals directly to asylum seekers and refugees in their homes in NYC. 
  • Rural Women’s Health Project creates a list of materials to inform community members who don’t speak English or Spanish of critical prevention/health information related to COVID-19.
  • Human rights advocates protest in cars outside immigration detention centers in Arizona.
  • The Esperanza Center in Anne Arundel Co., MD has set up a 500-language coronavirus hotline for immigrants.

News with heart

  • North Brooklyn Angels find a way to deliver more than 1,800 pre-packaged meals per week without endangering volunteers or the community they serve.
  • Local party goods retailer U.S. Party Company creates and donates 1,000 Easter baskets to Massachusetts communities.
  • Trans activist Lorena Borjas has a New York City street renamed in her honor.
  • Comedian and filmmaker Tyler Perry buys groceries for thousands of senior citizens in Georgia and Louisiana.
  • A group of Muslim physicians and a local Muslim nonprofit work together to donate and distribute personal protective equipment to hospitals across New England.
  • The number of pets fostered by volunteers increases dramatically while Americans stay at home due to coronavirus.
  • Landlord Mario Salerno cancels rent for hundreds of tenants amid pandemic. 
  • Original cast of Hamilton performs via video for 9-year-old Aubrey, who missed out on seeing the show in person due to COVID-19.
  • Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern reassures children that the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy are essential workers.
  • Sesame Street’s Elmo hosts a virtual play date with special guests to bring comfort to kids amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Bar owner Jennifer Knox removes $3,714 worth of bills stapled to the walls to distribute to her unemployed staff.
  • An anonymous donor gives every household in Earlham, IA $150 in gift cards for food.
  • The Globe Theatre streams a Shakespeare play for free every fortnight, as well as non-English language productions.
  • A new study shows that being able to have a gender-affirming ID is linked to lower rates of suicidal thoughts among transgender and nonbinary individuals.
  • More than 1,000 people pledge to donate their federal stimulus checks to aspiring American families. 
  • Over 3,000 people who have recovered from COVID-19 donate plasma for an experiment developing a potential treatment to help others heal from the disease.
  • Murder rates drop significantly due to stay-at-home orders.
  • Tenor Andrea Bocelli’s live-streamed Easter concert from Milan Cathedral reaches tens of millions of people.
  • New Orleans grocer Burnell Cotlon receives a large donation to offset his financial losses and secure his business after generously providing food and goods to customers on credit. 
  • Due to decrease in air pollution, the Himalayas are visible from cities in India during shutdown.

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

Housekeeping

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