Reflections on Three Weeks at the Border

Peaceful Communities

Most days, all we could see of the deportees who were being forced onto planes bound for Central America was their feet shuffling in chains. But occasionally the buses and fuel trucks that were parked in a manner to obstruct our view were not carefully aligned, and we got a clear view of the adults and children. Sometimes the shades on the plane were not closed, and we could see faces looking out at their last view of our country.

On any day, we could go across the border into the camp where children would be playing with sticks and balls just like children everywhere. Parents would be sweeping the dirt outside their tents and tidying up. Some people would be cooking on wood stoves they had built out of mud or tubs from old washing machines. People would be passing the time.

When we crossed back into the United States, there were never more than three people in line ahead of us waiting to present U.S. passports. People from Mexico, who have permits to cross every day in order to work or go to school, have to wait for hours in their own line. We regularly saw paramedics tending to people who succumbed to the heat while waiting.

If we went into the tent courts, we could watch as judges who were miles away conducted hearings via closed circuit television. They were so polite we could almost believe that the asylum seekers had a reasonable chance of winning their cases. But they didn’t. Almost no one ever gets asylum in these courts, by design.

It is generally thought that people from Cuba and Venezuela have an easier time getting asylum than people from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. The reason doesn’t seem to be that they are at greater risk and therefore more deserving of asylum. Rather, it seems that our international politics and relationships dictate how lenient we are with people trying to flee their countries. The Cubans and Venezuelans also seem to be more likely to have enough money to hire lawyers, which makes a huge difference.

Lawyers tell us that detainees are being moved inland from American detention facilities that are near the border, presumably so that there will be room to detain more people near the border. This might happen if Mexico decides not to continue to allow the U.S. to warehouse immigrants there, if Central American countries stop letting us dump people there, or if the coronavirus keeps the detention camps in Mexico from being viable.

There is almost no medical care of any sort in the camps and little in the surrounding communities, so an outbreak of COVID-19 could be catastrophic. The organization that has been bringing in volunteers from around the country has asked people who are not locals not to come anymore as a precaution against their carrying the virus into the camps. There is no indication that our government would relax its policies and let stricken people come across in order to be treated in U.S. hospitals. The situation is grim.

I learned a great deal during my recent three-week stay on the border. Along with other volunteers, we were able to help people who came to witness how our country’s policies are being implemented and how they are affecting people. We also helped reporters understand what they had come to investigate. We made sure immigration officials knew we were watching. We supported local relief and advocacy efforts. And now I am home, ready to do what I can to keep this issue in the public’s awareness.

Because of the coronavirus situation, it is unclear what form our witnessing will take in the coming days and weeks, but we will find a way to move forward together. Thanks to everyone who has supported these efforts in so many ways.

Lee Goodman
Peaceful Communities, Inc

peacefulcommunities.org

Join Lin-Manuel Miranda, Billy Eichner, Ai-jen Poo, and Malcolm Jenkins Inspiring Activists

Swing Left just launched a powerful new video campaign called Winning Is Everything, to communicate exactly what’s at stake this November, and that winning can—and must—start now.

We know you know that, but we need your help making sure everyone does. As one of Swing Left’s most engaged members, will you watch the Winning Is Everything video and share it with your network?

 

Go Green Deerfield – Deerfield Passes Sustainability Resolution

Go Green Deerfield

Great news from Deerfield!  Our Village Board of Trustees passed a Sustainability Resolution to reduce village wide GHG emissions 45% by 2030, and net zero by 2050.  Read the full resolution here. It took 12 months of Go Green Deerfield working closely with our Mayor, Village Staff, and the Board of Trustees to bring this to a vote last night.  It passed 5 to 1 and we are all very excited!

This step paves the way to taking Action- Village wide.  Our next step is to work with the Village to create a Green Action Task Force to carry out these goals. While our ultimate goal is to bring all stakeholders together, we intend to start with a smaller group to quickly pull together a plan and start implementing ready-to-go actions.  Our target timing to have this task force in place is by late March/ early April.

This outcome is the work of many, including each of you.  You have been open, supportive and collaborative partners in this joint effort to address climate change.  Every experience you shared, every person you connected us with, and every piece of knowledge you offered played a role in getting us to where we are today. Thank You!

Attend our monthly meeting – February 27, 7pm at the Deerfield Public Library
Learn about what actions and opportunities are coming up. Share your ideas and find collaborators to help bring those ideas to life. There is important work to be done now that the sustainability resolution has passed. All are welcome.

Horrors on the Southern Border

Immigration Asylum in Mexico - source BDNEWS.com

Until recently, our government allowed people from other countries to wait in the U.S. while their requests for asylum were being processed and decided. Now we make them wait on the other side of our border. Thousands of people are indefinitely stranded in places like Matamoros, Mexico, where I just returned from.

Neither our government nor the Mexican government is doing much of anything for these people. They live in small camping tents. They rely upon volunteers to bring them food. Clean water and toilets are scarce, and medical care is minimal. There is no work and no school. Our government’s policy is to let these people languish and suffer, in hopes that they will go away and that others will learn of their misery and decide not to try to come to the U.S.

Deliberately depriving people of food, sanitation, and other essentials of a decent life was the policy the Nazis followed in the 1930s and 40s in the ghettos and concentration camps. Over time during the Nazi era, what started as makeshift detention became large-scale incarceration. Dehumanization was institutionalized.

Today, child asylum seekers are no longer being detained in the U.S. in large tents the way they were at Tornillo, Texas, and Homestead, Florida. Our government has been building a series of permanent camps where children will be held. I visited an old WalMart in Brownsville, Texas where up to 1,500 immigrant children are being imprisoned. I also stopped by a warehouse in Raymondville, Texas, that is being refitted to hold 500 kids. A friend just stood outside a new prison that is under construction in El Paso, Texas, that will hold more than 500 kids. Other facilities are in the pipeline.

It took a while for the Nazis to develop their system of concentration camps. Dachau, established in 1933, became the model for later camps. What I saw in Mexico and Texas reminded me of something terrible. Our incarceration of immigrants is progressing along a terrifying trajectory. We are normalizing child abuse. We are perfecting systems that traumatize people. We are teaching the people who work at these prisons that it is OK to go along with and make money from deliberate cruelty.

I am disturbed by what I saw. But it is good that I saw it.

We have much to do.

Lee Goodman
Peaceful Communities, Inc.

“We’ve Gotta Start Canvassing.”

I’m Aftyn, an organizer for Indivisible, and I want to talk to you about what happened in the South this week, and how. I organize in two of the reddest states in the country: Kentucky and Tennessee.

Election night 2018 was rough. As we watched the Blue Wave sweep across the country, it became clear that it had missed us: we elected the same (and more) Trump-loving Republicans up and down the ballot.

It would have been easy for Indivisibles to give up, throw up their hands and say “we’ll never win.” But that’s not what happened. Instead, groups across the South mobilized and built out a MASSIVE year-round voter contact program statewide for 2019. 

I’m not just talking about in the cities: one of our group leaders in Appalachia was out knocking doors three days a week, every week, dogged in her attempt to identify every undecided voter in her county. In Boyle County, Kentucky (where Trump won with 62.1% of the vote), Indivisible Danville wrote postcards, registered voters, and canvassed for months prior to the election: Bevin only won by 4 votes.

All of that work was a testament to the fierce tenacity of group leaders who showed up day in and day out, no matter the literal weather or the political climate. 

And in the end? Well, the results were mixed. We won the top of the ticket, and that’s incredible. Kicking Bevin out of the Governor’s mansion is huge. These results are proof that when on-the-ground grassroots effort meets an unpopular and unprincipled incumbent (sounds like another Kentucky official we know), well, anything can happen. Down ballot though, we didn’t win a single race. After all the work, we still came up short.

But there’s another way we won: Off-year elections like this are used as a testing ground for messaging and tactics ahead of presidential years. Like 2018, Republicans again prioritized a pro-Trump, anti-immigrant, and anti-choice message. The result we earned at the top of the ballot in Kentucky and throughout Virginia show us that theirs is a losing approach.

On Tuesday night, I was at the big election watch party with two Indivisible group leaders. Late in the night, after we were sure we’d won in the Governor’s race and lost the others, one of them turned to me with a wicked little gleam in her eye. “Well,” she said. “We’ve gotta start canvassing.” 

Yep.

One of the questions I get asked most often as an organizer in Kentucky is how on earth are we going to defeat Mitch McConnell. And honestly, the answer is the same as it would be to defeat any regressive incumbent.

We’ve gotta start canvassing. We’ve gotta start calling, and texting, and talking to voters, everywhere.

If we’re going to ditch Mitch McConnell — or win ANY race — it’s going to take everyone and their second cousin. We’ve all gotta start canvassing. 

A few years can’t undo centuries of racism, classism and sexism. It will take more years of dedicated, hyperlocal efforts to make progress, which is why we need to start now. We need people on the ground knocking doors year-round. We need to mobilize the cities and make incremental (or major!) gains in the suburbs and rural areas. We need to pick a nominee who can inspire voters. We need donors who can fund phonebanking and canvassing tools. And we need to start organizing now.

The up-ballot wins in Kentucky this week should be an inspiration. And the down-ballot losses should be a call to arms. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get back to work.

In solidarity,

Aftyn

Indivisible Senior Regional Organizer, Kentucky and Tennessee

PS — I also want to give a major shout out to the groups and sister organizations in Virginia and in other states across the country where we had major wins last week! You’ll be hearing more from our teams in other states soon, but I couldn’t let this email go by without giving them huge claps. 😀

Indivisible Action supports progressive organizing and advocacy year round, country-wide. To learn more about our work or join the movement, go to indivisible.org, or to support us with a donation, click here.

Campaign Contacts

Vote Buttons

Campaign Contacts

Thanks to the North Shore Dems for sharing this contact list for presidential campaigns. Get in touch if you want to get involved.

Warren Campaign

  • Join Win with Warren North Suburbs on Facebook, and/or contact the co-leads, Caryn Fliegler (Caryn.fliegler@gmail.com) and Catherine Caporusso (catherineacaporusso@gmail.com). This group does not criticize other candidates, but is focused on Elizabeth.
  • 11/13, 7 pm: Why Warren? In Conversation with Daniel Biss.
  • The local Warren team will begin meeting biweekly at the Northbrook Public Library on Sundays, 1:15-3:15 pm, starting on 10/20. Catherine and Caryn will get you all set up with anything you need.

Biden Campaign

Harris Campaign

The 2020 Democratic Pledge

In the end, we have to pull together. Or we will be pulled apart. As the 2020 elections begin to take shape, the following set of guidelines, contributed by Tobin Fraley, are useful to insure the majority of Americans pull together to get us over the finish line so we may begin to repair the carnage that is now our American democracy.

You are encourage to download and share this 2020 Democratic Pledge with others.

Democracy Summer Camp July Meeting Summary

NSI 2019.7.18 General Meeting 7:00PM @ Deerfield Public Library

We had a nice turnout at this meeting with many active regulars as well as some new friends who are ready to get involved. Themed “Democracy Summer Camp,” we enjoyed our discussion around a “campfire.”

People shared their motivations and favorite actions: Showing up for rallies & marches; calling and writing to elected officials about their opinions on upcoming legislation; filling out online witness slips; writing Get-Out-The-Vote postcards; making GOTV calls (some to their neighbors, some even to help with out-of-state campaigns); door-to-door canvassing–some for specific candidates, others to encourage people to get out and vote. One attendee marched in a couple of parades in support of US Representatives Sean Casten & Lauren Underwood, and emphasized the importance that has in showing the public the support our candidates have.   All agreed that it’s important that we each get involved and take actions that are productive and that inspire us.

Sonny Cohen reviewed some of the ideas that were raised in the last meeting that were brought to life since then, such as the Lights for Liberty vigil on July 12 in Highland Park, and more voter registrar training opportunities sponsored by Tenth Dems.

Some ideas for future activity were also brought up, including: GOTV and voter registration drives on local college & university campuses; getting the message to college students who are home for the summer to register for absentee voting; supporting out-of area campaigns in important races, such as Amy McGrath, running in KY to “Ditch Mitch [McConnell]”. We also learned that there are many volunteer opportunities with Tenth Dems which is based in Highland Park.

And don’t forget to watch the upcoming Democratic Presidential Debates July 30 & 31!

Sonny  also reviewed upcoming events that are featured on the North Shore Indivisible Calendar.

Some of those upcoming events include…

July 21 – Voter Registrar Training in Waukegan

July 23 – Moraine Township Democrats Dinner Meeting

July 24 – Mueller Book Club – Live Testimony Watch Party & Post-Testimony Analysis @ Online

July 29 – Rep. Sean Casten (IL-6) will be holding a Meet & Greet in Highland Park

Aug. 6 – Voter Registrar Training in Libertyville

Aug. 20 – Voter Registrar Training in Waukegan

Aug. 27 – North Shore Indivisible Meeting @ Deerfield Public Library: Focus on Election Security featuring Rose Colacino from Illinois Indivisible’s Election Security & Integrity Voting Rights Team.

Read all the details on the North Shore Indivisible Calendar.

Also, please utilize these resources for finding important actions to take: Americans of Conscience Checklist; 5 Calls; Small Deeds Done.