Protections for Trans Students Rescinded – Call Your State Reps

Our new affiliate, TX Lege Indivisible, has a writeup on Trump’s overturning of transgender student protections and what you can do about it.

On Wednesday the Trump administration announced that it would be rescinding federal rules that simply allowed transgender students to use the bathroom that they choose.

So what does this announcement mean? It means that the issue is pushed back to the states, squarely into the court of Dan Patrick and Texas leaders at the local level, which is where lawsuits will likely begin.

So what are we going to do? There’s an excellent discussion of the brass-tacks way forward at the local-level here, but to summarize, this is going to require a lot of pressure on local and state lawmakers. In Texas, we can start by calling our state reps and demanding that they oppose #SB6. Aside from being needlessly cruel, there’s just no reason for it.

Read the whole thing here.

Sign Up Now to Take Action on ACA Repeal!

Is health care repeal one of your top concerns? Then we hope to see you at the Capitol on March 6, along with 1000+ other health care activists and advocates!

While ACA repeal or replace or who-knows-what will happen in Congress, much of the implementation will be left to the states, especially with respect to Medicaid. That means we need to get in front of our #txlege members and tell them what Texans need!

If you want to #ProtectOurCare, join Indivisible Austin and the Cover Texas Now coalition on March 6 for the Rally to Protect Health Care + Lobby Day. In addition to the morning rally and press conference, you’ll be able to meet with lawmakers and staff in the afternoon. Austin locals may visit their own lawmakers, or they may join up with groups of concerned citizens from across the state–we’ve got people joining in from Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley, and El Paso! RSVP is required to prepare materials and lobby groups.

RSVP NOW

Governor Abbott’s Cruelty Will Be His Undoing

Authoritarian regimes succeed only when there are enough lackeys willing to brutalize their fellow citizens on behalf of the autocracy. These lackeys do it without being told, and they do it with zeal.

One such lackey is Gov. Greg Abbott, whose fealty to Trump is painfully evident in the case of a Tarrant County, Texas, woman named Maria Ortega, who was sentenced to eight years in prison for voter fraud.

Ortega, a mother of four who has lived in Texas since infancy, is a U.S permanent resident. In other words, she is here legally, with a Green Card. Although Green Card-holders are prohibited from voting, Ortega voted (for Mitt Romney) in the 2012 election, and has said that she misunderstood the rules for voter registration and voting as a legal permanent resident. When the Tarrant County election office discovered she was not a citizen, and that she had voted in previous elections, they filed charges.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, for whom Ortega also voted, offered to dismiss the charges. In normal times, the charges would have been dismissed, or at worst Ortega would have been sentenced to probation.

But these are not normal times.

Tarrant County Attorney General Sharen Wilson disregarded Paxton’s offer and took the case to trial. A jury convicted Ortega of felony voter fraud and sentenced her to eight years. (It’s confusing, but in this case the jury, not the judge, determined the sentence. See first paragraph about lackeys.)

This injustice would have gone largely unnoticed had Trump not brought voter fraud into the national spotlight, and had Gov. Abbott not amplified it.

Our governor is gloating about separating a mother from her children for eight years. She will be in prison and then deported. There is no planet on which this punishment fits the crime, and our governor seems delighted about it.

Side note: The voting rights of Green Card-holders are not exactly clear. In fact, these are Google’s “instant results” for “Can you vote with a green card?”

This is clear as mud. Ortega voted in a state election, which this definition from Legal Zoom makes seem legal. But it’s not!

Whether or not Ortega knew she was repeatedly breaking the law by voting, eight years is an insane prison sentence.

So what can we do?

For Ortega: Probably not much, although watch this space for any updates.

But we are Indivisible and you know what that means…

If you live in Tarrant County

Call Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson at (817) 884-1400 and ask why she decided to move this case to trial when Ken Paxton offered to dismiss charges. Ask if eight years seems like a fair sentence. Also: The DA in Tarrant County is an elected office and in 2015 Wilson ran unopposed in the general election. (Please do not call if you are not a Tarrant County resident.)

If you live in Texas

Call Gov. Greg Abbott and ask him whether eight years in prison is a reasonable term for a mother of four who simply…voted when she wasn’t supposed to. Ask him if he’s ever made a mistake, and how he’d feel to have his family torn asunder over something so minor. Rapists and murderers do less than eight years. And when it comes time to for you to vote, remember Maria Ortega’s name.

If you live outside of Texas

Consider donating to the Women’s Storybook Project of Texas, which connects incarcerated mothers to their children through literature.

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/

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.

Tuesday is Texas Muslim Capitol Day

***Please see this post to for details on how to be a peaceful supporter for this event on Tuesday***

___

Y’all, I missed a lot of the news yesterday and this morning I was struggling to believe what I was reading.

I don’t know why I was surprised. When an autocrat tells you something, believe him.

Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization. This will happen often: humans seem to have evolved to practice denial when confronted publicly with the unacceptable. – Masha Gessen, Autocracy: Rules for Survival

About 10 days ago Texas state Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R- New Braunfels) sent a letter to Muslim organizations across Texas demanding they fill out a poll about their beliefs. He followed it up with a forum on Thursday at the State Capitol called “Defending Against Radical Islamic Terrorism in Texas,” which featured controversial speakers, some of whom claim that Texas Muslims want to overthrow our government and institute sharia law, and that they have, “a different methodology for the destruction of Western civilization…”

All of this was leading up to Texas Muslim Capitol Day on Tuesday, January 31. It’s a citizen lobby and advocacy day that happens every legislative session, and many religious groups have similar lobby days throughout the session. In recent years the event has drawn nasty and angry protests and reactions from lawmakers.

In 2015, then-Representative Molly White (R- Belton), who was not re-elected, demanded that any Muslims who came to her office recite an oath of loyalty before her staff would speak to them. She also, weirdly, left an Israeli flag on her desk. Participants in the lobby day, including school kids,  were verbally harassed and spat at.

This year’s lobby day is happening in what is probably the most hostile climate for Texas Muslims since 2001. A couple weeks ago the Islamic Center of Lake Travis’ under-construction mosque burned. Last night the Victoria Islamic Center’s mosque burned.

On Tuesday at 9 a.m. there is an opportunity to show up and stand with Texas Muslims who are engaging in participatory democracy. “Peaceful protectors” will gather to create a buffer zone between the event’s participants during their morning program on the Capitol steps, and the counter protesters. Texas Muslim Capitol Day organizers hope to get at least 200 people as Peace Observers. Representatives organized by Rep. Celia Israel and other faith leaders are expected to join in the protective action.

This is a chance to stand, indivisible, with Texans whose rights are under attack.

CALL TO ACTION: Peaceful Protectors at Texas Muslim Capitol Day

On Tuesday January 31 at 9 a.m. there is an opportunity to show up and stand with Texas Muslims who are engaging in participatory democracy. This call to action is unique–this is not an “Indivisible” action or protest or rally. It’s a call to stand with marginalized members of our community as they engage in our democratic process.

BACKGROUND:

Texas Muslim Capitol Day is a biennial citizen lobby day taking place at the Capitol. This year’s lobby day is happening in what is probably the most hostile climate for Texas Muslims since 2001.

“Peaceful protectors” will gather to create a buffer zone between the event’s participants and the expected counter protesters during their morning program on the Capitol steps. Representatives organized by Rep. Celia Israel and other faith leaders are expected to join in the protective action.

This is a chance to stand, indivisible, with Texans whose rights are under attack.

From the organizers:

Code Of Conduct –

#1 DO NOT ENGAGE PROTESTERS – This is literally and figuratively the #1 rule. We are not there to engage, debate, one-up etc. We are there to form a human chain and act as a barrier. Any communication that might possibly need to happen between Peace Observers and Protesters will be handled by designated liasons.

#2 Remember that you are indirectly representative of the event and the community taking part – We are standing in solidarity with a marginalized community and thus we are not acting as individuals and we must consider the way our behavior could reflect on the people with whom we want to show solidarity.

#3 DO NOT ENGAGE PROTESTERS

#4 Keeping #2 in mind, even amongst each other, please keep language, gestures, etc G-rated.

#5 DO NOT ENGAGE PROTESTERS

#6 Keeping #2 in mind, please wear clothing with only G-rated messages (or no messages, obviously.)

#7 DO NOT ENGAGE PROTESTERS

#8 Do not bring signs, banners, flags, etc. – This is NOT a counter protest.

#9 DO NOT ENGAGE PROTESTERS

FAQ:

Q: What time do we meet up?

A: 9 a.m. in front of the Capitol (south steps). The morning program will end before lunch.

Q: Is there anything else I can do?

A: Nope! Just invite people to help and show up. Keep it simple.

Texas Muslim Capitol Day on Facebook

VIDEO: TX Lege Town Hall Turns Heated Over Bathroom Bill

Well, last night was a first for me.

Coppell Town Hall Turns Heated
Coppell Town Hall Turns Heated

After being allowed to leave work a little early, I decided to meet some fellow Indivisible Group members at a town hall meeting in the city of Coppell, a suburb of Dallas, to hear and talk with some local representatives. The scheduled guests were State Representatives Matt Rinaldi and Ron Simmons, and State Senator Don Huffines. As it turned out, Huffines had a previous commitment and was unable to show.

The reason I wanted to attend was to voice my concern for SB6 (nicknamed the Texas Bathroom Bill). I did this as a citizen of Dallas, Texas who loves his state and not as a paid protester, as some might falsely claim. Before I had a chance to ask my question and give the representatives my views of the bill, several other people had already gone and made solid arguments. My opinion is based on what we have seen happen in North Carolina, that it could easily cost the state hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars annually.

When I had my chance to speak, it became clear that Rinaldi did not share my concerns.

In his introduction speech, Rinaldi said he was there to listen to the questions AND concerns of the citizens but instead, brushed them off as nonsense from the get-go if he disagreed with his constituents. One lady whom I had never met was almost brought to tears at one point when talking passionately about how the School Choice bill would affect her children and family.

The representatives seemed to forget that the meeting (which was held in a public space at Coppell City Hall) was open to the public and that there were no time limits or guidelines given for how the open-mic, question-and-answer portion of the evening would be handled. I watched as one-by-one citizens were cut off early or asked to hurry up or to please sit down when it was clear that the representatives there had no good answer for the people who wanted to voice their concerns for their state.

When I got up, I made sure to mention facts. I pulled stats from a 25-page study by the Texas Association of Business (PDF), including that it could easily cost the state 185,000 jobs and cost the state $8.5 billion annually. Rinaldi responded by starting off, “Well, if you actually read the bill…” As far as I am aware, we were both adults trying to have a productive back-and-forth, but his dismissive response made it clear that he didn’t regard me as an adult at all. Which is concerning to say the least.

During my short time at the mic, I also relayed how this will affect a very close friend of mine, something that was met with very mixed reactions from the crowd and most likely gave me the label of “snowflake.” I guess when life hands you snowflakes, make some snowballs.

Before I was able to finish my full statement and respond to Rinaldi’s mischaracterization of the study and the facts supporting it, the mic was aggressively removed from my hand by one of the event organizers.

I find it highly unfortunate that elected officials are so quick to disregard the concerns of the citizens once they find out that those citizens don’t agree with them.

A friend of mine often says:
“Be kind. Be brave.”

I would add:
Be steadfast.

URGENT #txlege Opportunity for Action on Jan. 31

URGENT! TEXAS SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE HEARING ON HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, JANUARY 31, 2017!

UPDATE: We just received word that this hearing will recess sometime around 10:30 am, and will likely reconvene some time after NOON. Please plan your day accordingly if you plan to attend to give testimony.

PLEASE RSVP and plan to join us at the Capitol on Tuesday starting at 9 a.m. in room E1.036!

Texans targeted by drastic cuts to the state’s health and human services (HHS) budget (Article 2) need your support on January 31st!

If you think Texas should have a robust Medicaid program, strong supports for children with special needs, provide services to adults with disabilities so they can work and live full lives, and don’t want the Texas legislature to slash funding, SHOW UP.

Come to the Capitol and show your support for resisting the Senate’s proposed budget. We need folks who can:

  • Attend the hearing and keep the room full to show our support for halting cuts to Medicaid
  • Sign up to give oral testimony (more details to come in comments below)
  • Write and turn in written testimony (more details to come in comments below)
  • Speak with the media about how cuts to the state’s Medicaid budget harm them and/or their families.

BACKGROUND:
The committee is taking public testimony on the HHS section of the Senate Budget put forth by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. Jane Nelson. The Senate budget includes nearly half a billion dollars in cuts to health and human services, which would devastate medical care and services that Texas children and families rely on. The Senate bill also fails to provide funding to cover Medicaid for the full two years of the next budget.

People who will be harmed by these cuts include:

  • Children who get their health insurance through Medicaid
  • People with disabilities
  • Low-income seniors, and
  • Pregnant women

Your presence and your testimony can make a difference for millions of Texans.

Justice, Safety, Opportunity at the TX Lege

State Senate Offices (for all SB- Senate Bills)

State House Offices (for all HB- House Bills)

Justice, Safety, Opportunity

Austin Justice Coalition and allied groups support the following bills and ask you to vote for them

Police accountability – (HB 854 by Reynolds, HB 158 by Dutton, HB 673 by E. Johnson)

  • Eliminate local conflicts of interest by sending officer involved deaths to an independent prosecutor
  • Increase transparency by providing the public a transcript of the grand jury deliberations that result in a no-bill when police shoot someone
  • Consolidate fragmented information about police shootings to allow for analysis and policy change

Safer traffic stops for all: end arrests for traffic tickets – (HB 567 by White/Coleman/Johnson, HB 574 by Thompson, HB 774 by E. Johnson)  If jail is not a possible punishment for an offense, officers should simply give a ticket and send the driver on their way. Sandra Bland would be alive today if the trooper could not have arrested her for failure to signal a lane change. Drivers do not believe they can be arrested for minor traffic infractions, and their instinct to question or resist increases tensions, making the stop less safe for everyone.

SB 292 — creating a grant program to reduce recidivism, arrest, and incarceration of individuals with mental illness (Nelson, Huffman, Schwertner) Money can be used for a variety of purposes including jail diversion and interdisciplinary teams to reduce police involvement in mental health emergencies.

HB 676 – 17 year olds will be prosecuted as juveniles (Wu) Currently, teens of 17 can be sent to adult prison.

  • Texas is 1 of only 9 states to send all 17-year-olds accused of a crime to adult criminal justice system.
  • Law enforcement is not required to inform parents of a 17 year old of their arrest nor do parents have a right to be involved in the court process
  • Teens held in adult facilities are at greater risk of suicide and sexual assault — 2/3 reported being sexually victimized by other inmates
  • Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) requires 17-year-olds to be separated from adults to ensure their safety in adult correctional facilities, so teens in adult facilities can spend up to 23 hours per day in solitary confinement, which can lead to physical and psychological harm.

End poverty penalty: repeal Driver Responsibility Program – (HB 67 by White, HB 275 by Gonzales, SB 90 by Hall)

  • Unable to pay the surcharges (which are civil fees assessed on top of criminal penalties and court fines), some 1.3 million drivers have lost their licenses for nonpayment. Since a valid driver’s license is required to purchase liability insurance, many may no longer be able to insure their vehicles, likely increasing the number of uninsured motorists on Texas roads.
  • Survey data indicate that low-income drivers are more likely to lose their jobs, are less likely to find a new job, and are less able to afford increased insurance premiums after having their drivers’ licenses suspended for unpaid surcharges.

Deescalate the drug war: reduce penalties for low level pot possession – (HB 81 by Moody, HB 82 by Dutton)

More than 60,000 Texans are arrested and jailed each year for minor pot charges. Bills to eliminate jail for possession of small amounts of marijuana will deescalate many encounters between the public and police, and allow officers and local leaders to focus public safety resources on solving more serious criminal and safety problems.

More information about AJC’s Policy Advocacy efforts.

 

Thanks to Austin Justice Coalition for providing this list.