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/

Jeff Sessions Update

Many of you may be aware that Jeff Sessions—Donald Trump’s pick for Attorney General– displays a willful blindness’ on voting rights , civil rights, conflict of interest laws, and on the fact that a foreign adversary interfered in our democratic elections to get a billionaire con man elected. He should absolutely not have been nominated for Attorney General, and the fact that he may be confirmed by the Senate poses a serious threat to the future of our democracy. With Trump’s pernicious, debunked, racist claim of “massive voter fraud”. Sessions will be directed to suppress votes on a massive scale. It’s that bad.

Most of you are also probably aware that President Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates Monday night for defying the President’s un-Constitutional and ludicrous executive order, entitled “PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES”. The order bans 12% of the world’s Muslims from entering the country, so while many refer to it as “a travel ban”  or an “immigration ban”, I refer to it as a “Muslim ban”, because that’s what it is.

The order was authored by Steve Bannon with no oversight or input from the counterintelligence community, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, or any other regulatory body. Bannon is a white supremacist who has usurped his way to a massively influential role on the National Security Council and provides the philosophical underpinning for this regime. The aim of this executive order is to incite further Islamophobia and discrimination. It’s being sold to the Republican base, unconvincingly, under the guise of “strengthening national security”. This is a farcical lie.

Yates was a holdover from the Obama administration, and while Trump’s ban is morally outrageous and unconstitutional, it’s unsurprising that Trump made this move and installed an acting AG who would sign off on the order.

In this context, it is even more important that all efforts possible be made for the Senate to either a) stop the nomination of Jeff Sessions, or b) call for a delay and that a new confirmation hearing be held in light of this executive order.

The Muslim ban violates the Constitution, and it will be the attorney general’s job to tell the President when he is breaking the law. This is already happening of course, as President Trump is clearly in violation of the Emoluments clause of the Constitution and is using the office of the Presidency for personal enrichment and accepting bribes on a massive scale. It’s the kind of overt corruption we’d expect from a third-world strongman, not the President of the United States, but here we are.

The Attorney General is the highest sitting judge who can sign FISA warrants, which would mean that if Sessions is confirmed the investigation into Russian interference in our election will most likely just go away.

Making matters worse is the fact that  both Ted Cruz and John Cornyn sold their souls for a seat at Trump’s table. We don’t need to rehash that here. These Senators and (their Republican counterparts in the House of Representatives) are happy to parrot their approval for this administration’s policies, no matter how racist, needless and un-American that policy may be. Needless to say, these are not friends of the cause.

I’m going to argue that even though that may be true, we need to DOUBLE DOWN here in Texas. Here’s what I propose:

1. Text your ZIP code to 520-200-2223 and you’ll get a text back with their district and DC office numbers, so you can keep them on speed dial.

2. Focus your energy on calling Senate staffers and voicing your opposition for now, at least until we know what’s happening with the Sessions confirmation vote. Call your senators’ offices and demand that they oppose Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. If it’s busy or they duck calls, keep trying.

3. Remind the Senate staffers millions of American voters will NEVER forget that they took this position, and that history will not judge them kindly.

4. Talk to 4 people a day about what’s happening to our democratic norms. Let those folks know that this is not Republican vs Democrat–this is a fight for the soul of our country.

5. Contact your Representatives. Remind the staffers that the huge majority of American voters did not vote for Donald Trump, and that even more voters than that have now been electrified by the sheer injustice of Donald Trump’s executive orders. Senate and congressional staffers get paid pretty well. If they and their bosses want to keep their jobs and their perks, the only possible remedy for us is to publicly denounce Jeff Sessions as a pick for Attorney General.

6. Show your support for Congressman Lloyd Doggett. He’s in Washington now, participating in active protests and . Let him know we’ve got his back. He needs to hear that we support obstruction and filibuster. Conciliation is over. The goal is to throw sand in the gears of everything at every turn.
7. Reach out to Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s staff. He has intimated that he may challenge Ted Cruz for his seat in 2018. If that’s the case, remain open to ideas for how best to to remove Cruz from office.

8. Use Open Secrets. It’s time for these guys to know that we know how much money they’re getting, and from whom.

These are the Representatives in the house who (thanks to gerrymandering) represent Austin.

10th District: Michael McCaul
https://mccaul.house.gov/contact

17th District: Bill Flores
http://flores.house.gov/contact/

21st District: Lamar Smith
https://lamarsmith.house.gov/contact/offices/austin-district-office

25th District: Roger Williams
https://williams.house.gov/

35th District: Lloyd Doggett
https://doggett.house.gov/contact

Finally, here’s a tool that 538 is using to track how Representatives and Congress members are falling in line with Trump:
https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/congress-trump-score/