Bear Witness in Brownsville, Texas

Peaceful Communities

Thousands of college-age revelers are about to descend upon the beautiful beaches on South Padre Island, Texas for their spring break. Just down the road, I will be standing vigil at the Mexican border in Brownsville, witnessing how our government is treating people who are trying to claim asylum as they flee violence in their home countries.

I leave tomorrow and plan on staying three weeks. I’ll try to post some reports on the Peaceful Communities Facebook page while I am down there, but before I go I wanted to invite anyone who would like to observe firsthand what is going on to come down while I’m there. I’ll be happy to show you around and help you understand what you are seeing.

If you come, you’ll definitely want to walk across the bridge into Matamoros, Mexico. It’s safe and it’s an easy walk. The asylum seekers are camped out in tents right outside the border bridge, and they are very friendly to visitors. Bring your passport.

If you want, you can volunteer to prepare food that is being brought each day to feed more than 1,000 people in the camp. You can also, if you like, volunteer to help serve the evening meal.

You might also want to sit in on the immigration courts at the border. Visitors are allowed at preliminary hearings but not at the hearings where final decisions about asylum are made. Even so, you will be able to see how masses of people are processed into a system that in almost all cases will eventually result in their being deported.

If you’re willing to wake up very early, you can join us at the airport to watch as people are loaded onto airplanes – in darkness – to be flown back to the countries they fled. Our government has been trying to hide the planes from us so we can’t photograph what is going on, so we think it is important to show up so they know we are still watching.

And of course, you will want to stand with us on the American side of the border and hold a sign, showing that we are witnessing all that is going on. Volunteers have maintained a daily presences for more than five weeks, and we hope to keep it going.

There are plenty of hotel rooms and B&Bs to stay in, and the weather should be springtime beautiful.

So think about stopping by. I think you will find it worthwhile. I would certainly enjoy the company. And our vigil may just help save lives.

Lee Goodman
Peaceful Communities, Inc.Peace

Volunteer – Democratic National Convention Host Committee

Volunteers are important to the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee and the convention.

During the Democratic National Convention, which will be held from July 13 to 16, 2020, and in the weeks leading up to the event, the host committee will welcome thousands of guests and delegates to Milwaukee and the surrounding region. Some of them will be visiting the city for the first time, and our volunteer team will be the first smiles they encounter and a friendly source of information.

Our volunteers will serve as Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee ambassadors, joining a history-making team that welcomes and delivers a positive experience to thousands of visitors from around the country and world, inspiring them to plan return trips to Milwaukee.

Sign up to Volunteer here

Learn more about the volunteer effort here.

Witness: MPP (Migrant Protection Protocols)

Large numbers of Central Americans are no longer appearing at our border seeking a better life. The government of Mexico, under pressure from President Trump, is keeping most of them from getting here. Mexico has reinforced both its southern border and its border with the U.S.

Nonetheless, thousands of people have made it to our border. Instead of following our prior practice of letting them into the U.S. while we consider their requests for asylum, we are forcing them to wait in Mexico.

The conditions on the Mexican side of our border are awful. Neither our government nor the Mexican government is providing adequate food, shelter, or medicine to the asylum seekers. Fresh water, bathing facilities, and toilets are in short supply. Diseases spread quickly through the tent-camps where people are concentrated. The only life-support many of these desperate people get comes from American volunteers who walk over the bridge from the U.S. each day carrying food and supplies that have been donated.

We worked with activists from around the country to bring attention to the immigrant children’s prisons, and we had great success. Several of those horrible places were closed, and the children were freed. Because people showed up at city council meetings and objected, San Antonio, Texas, Universal City, Texas, and Marietta, Georgia have recently refused to allow immigrant children’s prisons to open there, and our fellow activists are working right now to prevent such prisons from opening in other towns. Citizen involvement works!

Starting on January 12, we will begin a new effort. This time we are not only focusing on individual detention facilities. We will be calling for reversal of the Trump policies that force asylum seekers to remain in Mexico. We hope to maintain a regular presence in Brownsville, Texas, at the border crossing that leads into Matamoros, Mexico, where thousands of immigrants are stranded. Once again, we will be bringing attention to a problem that might otherwise fall out of the public consciousness as other news stories emerge.

If you think you might want to stand witness at the border for a few hours or a few days, you can get more information here:

Or you can just contact me through the website I will try to answer any questions you have. We will need people not just on January 12, but for as long as it takes to restore decency to our country’s treatment of migrants.

Contributions to help this effort can be made online at:

or you can send a check to Peaceful Communities, Inc., PO Box 2324, Northbrook, IL 60065. Contributions are not tax deductible.

Thanks to everyone who has gone to the border, who will go, and who is supporting this effort in any way.

Lee Goodman
Peaceful Communities, Inc.

Action Therapy – Places to Go to Find Things to Do

The familiar refrain is often, “What can I do?” often accompanied by some hand wringing about the state of our democracy. For starters, here are some remarkable resources.

Just remember: You can’t do everything. But you can do something. Put a stake in the ground and get to work:

Americans of Conscience Checklist

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.

5 Calls

5 Calls is the easiest and most effective way for citizens to make an impact in national and local politics

Small Deeds Done (are better than great deeds planned)

So let’s break the work down! Let’s make it manageable. Small actions are not insignificant. A grand master plan means nothing unless someone (like you) takes the small steps that need to happen to make it a reality.

And that’s what Small Deeds is all about. It’s about each of us taking regular, small steps – that together lead to massive, crushing, world-bending change.

Defend Migrant Families from Trump’s Attacks

Defend migrant families from Trump’s attacks
Hi #Resisters,
June 30th marks one year from the day that #Resisters held over 800 rallies across the country to tell the Trump administration that #FamiliesBelongTogether. Still many families remain separated. #Resisters are coming together to commemorate this anniversary and to demand all families be reunited.
Here’s what #Resisters can do in their own communities:
2. Reach out to #Resist’s organizers to chat about what actions would make the most impact for your area
It’s unacceptable that one year later families are still being separated. #Resisters can make a difference by standing up to this administration and demanding families be reunited. Can you host a #FamiliesBelongTogether event?
Thank you for everything you do,

Legislator Calls: November 6, 2017

Calls Week of November 6

Before you make those calls: Read our Blog post on being an efficient caller.

Representative Schneider and Senators Duckworth and Durbin this week:

  • Tell Representative Schneider*:

    • Advocate for the economic rights of our poorest neighbors
      • Advocate for poor Americans who make less than $18,600 per year and for middle class families who stand to lose tax benefits
      • Thank Representative Schneider for speaking out on this issue in his statement.
  • Tell your Representative and Senators*:

  • Tell your Senators*:

    • Support a clean DREAM act
      • Thank Senator Durbin for Co-sponsoring the bill.
      • Urge Senator Duckworth to become a co-sponsor.
    • Oppose the nomination of Thomas Farr to a lifetime appointment to the US District Court
      • Hundreds of civil rights groups oppose him because of his demonstrated opposition to voting rights, workers’ rights, and civil rights. This appointment is dangerous for democracy.
      • Urge Senators Duckworth and Durbin to vote “No” on this nomination
*Q: Why do I tell my Representative and Senators different lists of issues? Why don’t I read them all the same script?
A: Because certain responsibilities originate in the House of Representative (tax bills start there) and other responsibilities originate in the Senate (confirmations of appointees).
Continue reading “Legislator Calls: November 6, 2017”

Immigration: Citizenship Workshop Needs Volunteers

The Hispanic American Community Education and Services (HACES) organization in Waukegan is holding a Citizenship Workshop on Saturday, Oct. 14 from 9 to noon.  Please come and help participants fill out their papers to become U.S. Citizens.  Address is 820 Greenwood Ave. in Waukegan.  For more information, call 847-244-0300.  No experience necessary, but training may be required.

Volunteers Desperately Needed to Help DACA Recipients

Because of Trump’s announcement that DACA will terminate in six months, all current DACA recipients must re-apply by October 5, 2017 in order to get a two-year renewal. Numerous immigration organizations are holding workshops to help with this process.

HACES in Waukegan has scheduled the following dates and times where volunteers are needed:

  • Thursdays Sept. 14, 21, 28 from 1 PM to 7 PM
  • Saturday, Sept. 16 from 9 AM to 1 PM with a training session beginning at 8 AM

If you are interested in volunteering, contact HACES at 847-244- 0300 or Maria Elena Jonas at HACES is located at 820 WS. Greenwood in Waukegan. You can also contact me, Holly Kerr, at if you have any questions.

Action: URGE RAUNER: Advocate for the rights of Americans

Action: Advocate for the rights of Americans who are being targeted by ICE for how they look.

This is about ICE’s incivility toward immigrants and people of color.

Call: Governor Rauner’s office
Phone: 312-814-2121
Phone: 217-782-0244

Script: I am deeply concerned about ICE’s increasing aggression in our communities throughout the state. In Virginia, for example, ICE is stopping legal citizens to ask for proof of citizenship because of how they look. This creates a hostile environment for citizens and immigrants–and makes us all less safe. I am calling to request that Gov. Rauner contact Homeland Security Sec. Kelly and express his/her desire to “insure domestic tranquility.”