Four things you can do to stop SB4

The time has finally come–the Texas House of Representatives is going to debate and vote on SB4 on Wednesday.

SB4 is the so-called “sanctuary cities” bill that will undermine community policing efforts and will affect our neighbors, our workforce, kids in our schools, and the relationship between police and our communities. This doesn’t just affect the immigrant community, it impacts everyone who may be asked to prove he or she is a citizen.

Here are 4 things you can do to help stop this terrible bill:

  1. Call your Texas House rep and ask them to vote AGAINST SB4:
    “Hi, my name is ________ and I am calling to demand that the Representative OPPOSE Senate Bill 4 in any form. [My family / Texas students / Texas children] deserve/s to live without fear, and to live lives of dignity and prosperity. Please tell the Representative that Texans OPPOSE SB 4 and they must too.”
  2. Join Indivisible Austin’s emergency conference call TONIGHT at 8 p.m. with representatives from United We Dream and Workers Defense Project
    Dial-in Number: 1-(712) 770-8067
    Conference Code: 409542
  3. Join Texans from across the state at the Capitol on WEDNESDAY to fill the gallery–let our representatives know we’re watching
    There are several events scheduled at the Capitol on Wednesday:
    9am – TRUST Coalition press conference, WEST Steps of the Capitol (*location changed from South to West steps*)
    10am – Person to Person Outreach for Representatives Going Into the House Chamber
    6pm – Prayer Vigil in the Rotunda
  4. Call, text, or email your friends and family members in other parts of the state and ask them to do #1!
    Here’s a target list of Texas House reps who need to hear from their constituents! Our representatives in Austin are on the right side of this issue, but there are reps across the state who need phone calls.

We have ONE LAST CHANCE to stop SB4 and protect immigrant families in our state. Please join us in rising to the challenge to #StandIndivisible and give it all we can!

April 25: Emergency Conference Call on SB4: “Sanctuary Cities” Bill

Our next conference call is on the night before the full Texas House votes on SB4, the “Sanctuary Cities” bill. We are lining up guest speakers, including Jose Garza of Workers Defense Project and Chris Valdez and Karla Perez Ramirez of United We Dream. Watch this space for more detail.

WHAT: Indivisible Austin Conference Call

WHEN: Tuesday, April 25 at 8 p.m. CT

HOW: Call 1-(712) 770-8067 / Conference Code: 409542

Facebook event

About Karla Perez Ramirez

Karla is the statewide coordinator for the United We Dream UndocuTexas campaign and a beneficiary of DACA. She is a second year law student at the University of Houston Law Center and Board member of United We Dream. English/Spanish.

About Chris Valdez

Chris works with United We Dream on Texas communications, is a court-appointed special advocate through Child Advocates in Harris County and is based in Houston. English dominant/Spanish proficient.

About Jose Garza

Jose Garza, Executive Director, Workers Defense ProjectJose Garza is Executive Director of the Workers Defense Project. Jose, who started at WDP in January 2016, is a native Texan who has devoted his career to the fight for working families and immigrant families. His homecoming to WDP is inspired by a “deep belief that this state can be a place where working families can get ahead.” (Barragan, AAS)

Jose started his career in Washington, D.C., where he worked for Congressman Ciro Rodriguez, attended law school at Catholic University, and worked for a federal district judge. He returned to Texas for the first time in 2006 to work on the border as an assistant public defender at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, and then as an assistant federal public defender in the Western District of Texas.

In 2010, Jose returned to Washington, D.C. to serve as the Deputy General Counsel for the House Com­mit­tee on Education and Labor. He went on to work as Special Counsel to the National Labor Rela­tions Board, and most recently he served Secretary Tom Perez as a senior policy official at the U.S. Department of Labor. Garza brings extensive experience working with local, state and national labor organizations to build opportunity for working families and immigrant families.

 

SB4 “Sanctuary Cities” Update

Short version:

This is an URGENT call to action. Call, email, fax, tweet at, and post on Facebook to your state senators, tell them you oppose Senate Bill 4, and urge them to vote against it. The bill aims to eliminate so-called sanctuary cities and counties, where local officials decline to participate in federal immigration enforcement efforts. Essentially, this bill turns local law enforcement into a deportation force. Want to fight Trump’s agenda of hate? In Texas, this is where the fight is.

Use this tool to find out who represents you in each district

Longer version:

On February 2, despite 16 hours of overwhelming public testimony against the bill, the Texas Senate State Affairs committee provisionally approved the bill in a 7-2 party line vote, sending it to the full Senate for a vote next week.

Of course, Trump exploited a myth of “immigrant criminals” to fire up his base, and this is key to the GOP’s narrative. More Mexicans are leaving the U.S. than coming.

Abbott is trying to sell this bill as being “in the interest of keeping Texans safe.” This is absurd.

Sanctuary cities that may choose to house refugees are not providing safe haven for Trump’s imaginary criminals. These are women and children fleeing abusive relationships who want a better life for their children. These are college students. 

Essentially, what this bill does, is turn local law enforcement into a deportation force, and it will affect folks who just want to meaningfully contribute.

From the Statesman:

“Under the bill, police chiefs and sheriffs would be prohibited from discouraging officers from inquiring about subjects’ immigration status, county jails would be forced to cooperate with federal requests to extend the detention of inmates suspected of immigration violations, victims of crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants in sanctuary jurisdictions could sue local governments, and the state would withhold grant money from local jurisdictions that don’t comply with the bill.”

Senate Bill 4 is Governor Greg Abbott’s way of trying to stir up his base, by riding the wave of anti-immigrant, racist xenophobia Donald Trump has made central to his brand of hateful, cowardly fear-mongering.  Essentially, it is an attempt to punish any city for failing to cooperate in mass deportations. The bill cuts state criminal justice grants, money that funds services for veterans, parents struggling with drug addiction and victims of family violence.

Aside from being wrong-headed and needless, the kind of aggressive deportation Abbott proposes would absolutely wreck the state economy. Agriculture, construction and biotech, all crucial to the state economy, rely on immigrant labor.

In Texas, it’s crucial that we bring the fight against hatred into our local and state government races. Together we can turn the tide.

Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick are trying to jam this measure through, so we have to act, NOW.

If you’re not sure who represents you, use this tool.

Get your state senator’s info. Call, fax, Facebook, and Tweet at them to oppose Senate Bill 4. If you call their office and they oppose Senate Bill 4, then voice your support. They need to hear from you as well.

Use social media over the weekend. These are the hashtags to target: #SB4Bad4TX, #stopSB4, #noSB4, #txlege and #NoBanNoWall.

The senators listed below are those who have publicly voiced their support for this bill.

Senate District 5, Charles Schwertner

(512) 463-0105
(512) 863-8456 

Senate District 28, Charles Perry (rep who introduced the bill)

(512) 463-0128
(806) 783-9934
 
Senate District 24, Dawn Buckingham

(512) 463-0124

Senate District 67, Jeff Leach

(512) 463-0544
(972)424-1419

Senate District 1, Bryan Hughes

(903) 753-8137

Texas Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick 
512-463-0001

Texas Committee on State Affairs
(512) 463-0380

I’m sure you’re aware of the concept of sanctuary cities, but in case you need some more background info on how this is playing out here, here you go.

So here’s what we’re going to do:

Call their district and Austin offices and voice your opposition to Senate Bill 4. Demand that he do the same. Tell everyone in your group to do this. It’s critical that these representatives hear that their constituents do not want this bill to pass.

If it’s helpful, I’ve included a script you can use here:

“Hi, my name is _________ and I’m calling to urge _________ to go on the record and reject Senate Bill 4. This bill will only increase mistrust in law enforcement, and will do nothing to actually keep us safe. The research shows that legislation like State Bill 4 only drives undocumented crime victims and witnesses into the shadows. Governor Abbott’s introduction of this bill in the legislature at this moment is a cowardly, overt attempt at capitalizing on the wave of anti-immigrant sentiment that Donald Trump exploited during his campaign. But that doesn’t have any place in Texas. We, the voters, won’t forget ______ position on this matter, and urge him to get on the right side of history, or we will be voting him out of office when he seeks re-election in 2019.”

Hammer these representatives on their social media channels, Facebook and Twitter. Be unrelenting. Remind them that their support of this bill cuts funding for veterans, that there’s no data to support the claim that it makes us “safer” (in fact it may be the opposite), and that women, children and college students will be affected, not blood-thirsty criminals. Feel free to link to the articles in this post. Get the message out there. Many of these GOP Senators claim to be Christians. I can’t think of anything more uncharitable than using a militarized police force to deport hard-working families. Remind them of that.

In addition to calling, Facebooking, and tweeting, we are going to FAX their offices our opposition, using Faxzero.com or Freefax.com.

Whether or not you’re in Travis County, voice your support for Sheriff Sally Hernandez for standing up for what’s right. She’s on Twitter @SallyTCSheriff.

The same goes for  Judge Sarah Eckhardt. She’s taking a public stand against Greg Abbott. She’s on Twitter @JudgeEckhardt.

I’m going out on a limb here, and this may be the hardest part. Speak with 4 people you see in your daily life *in person* about this. This can be delicate, awkward, and uncomfortable.But it’s important that these issues are brought out into the open. Politely skirting the issue of institutional racism (which is what this Bill is) and hoping that people put it together on their own will only strengthens our opponents, who will capitalize on their base’s ignorance of the facts.

This can be especially hard in places like rural areas like Senate District 5, which comprises Limestone, Robertson, Milam, Grimes and Walker counties–places where access to education and healthcare is scarce, places where economic opportunities are dwindling, and because of that, Trump’s populist message hit home.

My dad is from Limestone county–the tiny, one-stoplight Groesbeck–and I’ve spent time there my whole life. As tough as it might seem to fight to change how these people vote, the reality is that they are, for the most part, hard-working, decent people, who just want what everyone wants: what they perceive as a better life.

Trump promised them the moon. He’s now showing us what the actual substance of that promise really looks like: tax cuts for millionaires, tax increase for the middle class, no healthcare, and a kleptocracy on a scale unseen in our time, where corrupt billionaires will grow incalculably richer. The perversity of all of this, of course, is that Trump’s propaganda machine exists to convince these voters to vote against their own self-interest.

Making matters worse, America’s democratic institutions are under constant attack, by a white supremacist heading up the NSC in Stephen Bannon, a conspiracy-minded National Security advisor in Mike Flynn, a racist in Stephen Miller–this is less a presidential administration and more like an autocratic, 3rd-world, white-supremacist regime.

Amazingly, their work is made easier by buildings full of Internet trolls, waves of fake Twitter accounts the GOP uses to amplify their message, fake news opportunists who learned how to generate click-ad revenue, and a few highly visible “fashionably racist” alt-right celebrities using their platforms to spread fear and encourage open bigotry. The official state news channel of the Trump administration, Fox News, is how many of the people in this district are going to be getting their info.

But the inauguration drove a crucial concept home: bots don’t fill bleachers. The Women’s March, where millions of people flooded the streets after a volunteer started a Facebook group, only made this all the more clear. We have the mandate.

So talk to people in person. See what they have to say. If you’re discussing sanctuary cities, let them know that huge amounts of research have gone into this, and that in fact sanctuary cities are safer than comparable non-sanctuary cities. This bill, frankly, is unnecessary. It’s political grandstanding. Let’s do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t pass the State Senate next week.

This is a key moment in history. People who hide from this fight will be remembered as cowards. The people who are now actively embracing Trump’s brand of racist fear-mongering will be remembered as much, much worse.

Thank you for standing up for what’s right.

M.O.

P.S. I’m not on Facebook, so there are many Indivisible Groups whom I can’t reach directly. Please help me get the message out to them.

Use the Indivisible guide’s map tool to find other groups and let’s put up a united front.

Additional info here:

http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/01/29/512002076/why-sanctuary-cities-are-safer

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/sanctuary-cities-public-safety-kate-steinle-san-francisco

http://www.citylab.com/crime/2017/01/sanctuary-cities-are-safer-and-more-productive/514508/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/01/27/trump-says-sanctuary-cities-are-hotbeds-of-crime-data-say-the-opposite/?utm_term=.244664116ffb

http://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/Gov-Abbott-cuts-criminal-justice-grants-to-10901849.php

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/we-cannot-afford-to-make-our-community-less-safe-by-driving-people-into-the-shadows/2017/02/02/f14ed2d6-e5ac-11e6-ba11-63c4b4fb5a63_story.html?utm_term=.c71df9dbbd15

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/texas-governor-pulls-millions-in-state-grant-money-from-sanctuary-county/

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/will-ban-sanctuary-cities-make-texas-safer/JEE1OafJRmrb3swwH8ktcI/

ACTION TODAY – Rep. Roger Williams Wants to Punish Austin for Being a So-called “Sanctuary City”

We will be meeting today at Williams’ Austin office at 1005 Congress Ave at 12pm today. Please bring signs, written statements, and/or just your contempt for a Congressman who puts partisan politics above the law and what is best for Austin. Try to get there a little early to have time for parking, traffic, etc.

sanctuary-cities.jpg

No, it’s not “just common sense” Roger. It’s federal overreach. Austin is not refusing to enforce federal laws. They are choosing to leave the immigration policing up to federal agencies whose responsibility it is! Why are you punishing your Austin constituents?

This morning (2/3) I spoke to a staffer in the DC office. He said that Williams wants local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal law. When I asked if there was ever a case where the local authorities knew someone was undocumented but refused or neglected to report it to the feds, he tried to evade the question. When I pressed him, he got flustered and finally admitted that they didn’t know if that had happened but will do some research and get back to me…

They know there is no legal justification for this

For a full explanation about our position on this please see the blog post written by an immigration attorney. An Immigration Attorney and an Activist Scholar Explain Why SB4 is a Terrible Idea and What You Can Do to Stop It.

How to Help: Active Immigrations and Custom Enforcement Ops in Travis County

Through attorneys in the Austin immigrant rights community, we’ve learned that there appears to be an active ICE operation in Travis County right now. According to our sources, ICE is lodging detainers for any foreign-born person in a county jail. We understand that those with criminal warrants and outstanding orders for removal are being specifically targeted.

The news is unnerving, and also frustrating because non-lawyer types are powerless to do much besides share information. But sharing that information can help people make plans and find help before they need it.

The links below have resources in multiple languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Arabic. Please share them with your networks.

From the Austin Commission on Immigrant Affairs:

“It likely that we will see and can expect a change in how immigration enforcement occurs in our communities. Thus more people may find themselves facing enforcement actions. In preparation for that, the following materials should be distributed widely to people who are concerned about increased immigration enforcement.”

Know Your Rights! Protect Yourself Against Immigration Raids- United We Dream

Know Your Rights- National Immigration Law Center

Additional Resources are: 

Linea de Defensa Comunitaria (512-270-1515)
Deportation crisis hotline for Spanish or English speaking clients. We can help people find loved ones in detention centers/county jails, connect to attorneys, find basic needs financial, food, etc. support, engage with a supportive community of others impacted, and access mental health care. Also seeking bilingual crisis hotline volunteers. Training provided.

Family Safety Planning ToolkitFormulario de Planificacion Familiar:

This PDF toolkit, available in English and Spanish, was developed by the Immigrant Services Network of Austin to assist individuals and families with preparing to respond effectively in the event of raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The goals of the toolkit are to educate immigrants about their rights, and to assist individuals and families with an emergency plan for their household.

#KnowYourRights

An Immigration Attorney and an Activist Scholar Explain Why SB4 is a Terrible Idea and What You Can Do to Stop It.

By Mark Kinzler kinzlerimmigration.com and Shaun Glaze, M.S

girl-flag-croppedImage courtesy Flickr user jvoves https://www.flickr.com/photos/jvoves/138556236

Why SB4 must be opposed and how to do it effectively (SHORT VERSION)

  1. SB4 damages the ability for local law enforcement to properly carry out their duties of protecting and serving their communities because it forces officers of these agencies to become de facto immigration enforcement officers. Particularly in areas with large Latino communities, this law would degrade the level of trust between the community and the law enforcement agency (LEA), a trust which is crucial to the local agency’s ability to properly investigate local crimes.
  2. Requiring local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration laws as a part of their regular job duties will overburden agencies that are already strained economically and by their current workloads. In order to effectively and legally comply, local law enforcement officers will need extensive training in federal law as it relates to lawful immigration status and will be required to perform extra immigration-related investigations with each arrest made.
  3. SB4 is attempting to order state LEAs to mandatorily comply with a Federal law that is currently voluntary, which is absurd on a practical level and also constitutionally dubious.  
  4. It is important to remember that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers can still access any jail at any time to investigate the immigration status of a detained person. The result of SB4 would be to shift the burden of this investigation away from ICE and place it onto local law enforcement officers. This essentially requires state law enforcement agencies to expend their own resources to carry out federal enforcement job duties that are already in place.

I want to go to SB-4 hearing but am not sure how to do that.

  1. Write down your talking points (testimony). It doesn’t have to be perfect. Print 20 copies of this with your name on it, to submit to the record. Otherwise, just bring the 1 copy for yourself. Remember, personal stories are remembered better than stats. It’s fine to include both.
  1. Learn about hearing process. What- SB4 (committee hearing). Where- Senate Chamber, When- 8:30AM. Who- Committee on State Affairs (if your rep is on this committee your voice is extra-important). Expected attendees – 200
  1. Show up early to hearing to have plenty of time to park, find room, meet neighbors, and have better chance to hear/speak (if you’re speaking).
  1. Listen to the bill be read by committee. Then invited testimony (if any). Finally, public testimony (where the audience can take turns speaking for no more than 2 minutes).  This closely mirrors district office visits in the Indivisible Group Toolkit. Typically, you can take pictures/video. Document the process. Submit your written testimony if you don’t speak (again, you need 20 copies with your name on it to do this).
  1. Leave room and document the process. Make a debrief video to talk about what experience was like. Share it widely and/or send to local indivisible groups. #SB4Bad4TX is the hashtag for the hearing.
  1. Celebrate and signal boost. Thank speakers for their public testimony- especially those marginalized by these policies. “Like”/”Share” content online, chat about experience with friends, family, coworkers, write emails to organizations involved, send thank you notes, tweet at press, whatever you’d like to do that helps you feel good about participating in the political process.

Why SB4 must be opposed and how to do it effectively (LONG VERSION)

Texas Senate Bill No. 4, or “a bill relating to the enforcement by certain governmental entities of state and federal laws governing immigration and to the duties of law enforcement agencies concerning certain arrested persons” was introduced by Texas state senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and seeks to require law enforcement agencies (LEAs) in Texas to assist and participate in the investigation and determination of the legal status of immigrants who come into their custody. Generally, the job of arresting, detaining, and deporting immigrants is carried out by a branch of the Department of Homeland Security called U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (commonly referred to as “ICE”). SB4, was born from the current storm of anti-immigrant sentiment, with great support from Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who are commonly known to make factually questionable and often clearly disingenuous statements about immigration problems in Texas. SB4 is misguided for several reasons:

  1. Public Safety – Cooperation agreements between ICE and law enforcement agencies have existed for many years. Nevertheless, the agreements are not mandatory, and different law enforcement agencies have been able to choose their level of involvement with ICE officials. Many LEAs throughout the U.S. have chosen to have minimal cooperation with ICE. Though there are several reasons often cited by the LEAs for the choice to provide minimal cooperation, one very common reason is the fact that the LEA’s cooperation with ICE actually damages the ability of the LEA to properly investigate and prosecute crime. In areas with high populations of immigrants, trust between the immigrant community and the LEA is crucial to the ability of the LEA’s fundamental task of protecting and serving the community as a whole. If the immigrant community is aware that the LEA readily cooperates with ICE, or is legally required to assist ICE in its efforts to apprehend deportable persons (a la SB4), members of that community will be fearful of cooperating with the LEA. When members of the community fear having contact with the police, the policy impedes the LEA’s ability to solve local crimes because the effectiveness of that job relies on information from witnesses and statements from victims and other members of the community.
  2. Resources and training of the law enforcement agencies – Local police agencies have an extremely difficult job as it is, and they are often underfunded. Many LEAs do not support cooperation with ICE because it adds another level of investigatory requirement to their already strained workloads and budgets. In order for local officers to properly and lawfully act in a role as an immigration enforcer, the officers would need extensive training in federal and immigration law and would have to increase work hours to comply with the new requirements.
  3. Federal preemption – Under a constitutional principle called federal preemption, state and local authorities are generally not allowed to enforce federal law, particularly when an enforcement procedure is already in place. This is a long-standing principle that has been addressed by several federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. The policy is also reasonable on a practical level because federal authorities are usually in the best position to enforce federal law. Specialization and extensive training is often required to carry out this enforcement due to the complicated nature of the laws being enforced. Also, federal preemption precludes states from enacting their own laws related to federal matters so that overlapping jurisdictions do not end up with conflicting laws on the same matter. Generally, if that happens, the federal law will supersede the state law and the state law will be invalid.

Q: Help, Thursday SB-4 is my first Senate hearing. What do I do?

A: Excellent that you’ll show up! Just do a little prep work (alone or with a partner), and you’ll be fine.

1. Prepare by learning about the hearing process

  1. The location for SB-4 is the Senate Chamber (hard to find- come early) at 8:30AM
  2. You can find history of the bill
  3. Read analyses, especially analyses offered by immigration lawyers, migrants, and those directly affected by the law.
  4. Learn how to leverage your voice. Not all voices carry equal weight, though even a whisper can join the chorus. The voices of constituents of the committee ((Senate Committee on State Affairs (C570) matter A LOT MORE. If your rep is any of the following, make your voice heard. If they aren’t your rep (and you have 3 minutes of time), find out which Indivisible group has these reps, and offer that indivisible group (or any group resisting SB4) your support. Let them know how important their collective voices are here. Ask how you can help them get their voices heard. *Their* reps can kill this bill before it has a chance to move to the full Senate.

Chair:Sen. Joan Huffman Vice Chair: Sen. Bryan Hughes Members: Sen. Brian Birdwell Sen. Brandon Creighton Sen. Craig Estes Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. Sen. Jane Nelson Sen. Charles Schwertner Sen. Judith Zaffirini 

If your rep authored the bill, let them know what you think

Perry (sponsor) AND co-authors- Bettencourt | Birdwell | Campbell | Estes | Hancock | Hughes | Kolkhorst | Schwertner

If your rep is not on the committee. Please consider bringing prepared written remarks to submit to written testimony. 20 copies, your name on each copy.

2. Show up a little early. You might get lost, especially trying to find the Senate Chamber. Also, there might be 200 people there. Carpool, if possible.

3. The hearing starts. Usually, there will be a presentation of the bill, followed by invited testimony, then public testimony. Everyone gets 2 minutes. You may be rushed, but you have the right to 2 minutes of time. If there is a chance you may not speak, please consider bringing prepared written remarks to submit to written testimony. 20 copies, your name on each copy.

4. Be polite and steadfast in your testimony. See point 4 in the group toolkit for more information on what you can do to prepare. It is okay to get emotional as you speak from the heart. Many politicians like to hear personal stories.

5. Document the experience and share it with others. Take pictures. Take videos. Do a debrief with friends or alone to share what it was like. Your clip may encourage someone else to start showing up at hearings, too. You can use #SB4Bad4TX

6. Celebrate your participation in the political process, and stay tuned with groups to learn what is happening next. You can also share documents, pictures, videos with groups so they can signal boost. If you find out information about the bill but can’t act on it, share it with an affected indivisible group and they can use it for organizing.