Show up to support the Austin Sanctuary Network at City Council!

Indivisible Austin is a proud active member of the Austin Sanctuary Network, supporting asylum seekers and immigrants finding refuge here in Austin, and advocating for immigrants rights throughout Texas and America!

Keep Alirio Safe

On Thursday, May 10, join us and the ASN in supporting a City wide resolution showing solidarity with the courageous Sanctuary leaders in Austin and all over the United States. This resolution will show support for

sanctuary for three individuals living at houses of worship in Austin, and urging federal officials to prevent their deportation

Moreover it will show Austin’s support for national Sanctuary efforts, and leaders like Edith Espinal in Ohio, Juana Luz Tobar Ortega in North Carolina, Carmela Apolonio Hernandez in Philadelphia, and Alex Rene Garcia in St. Louis as well as our Austin Sanctuary leaders Alirio Gamez, Hilda Ramirez and her 12 year old son Ivan Ramirez.

Join us at Austin City Hall for the passage of this monumental resolution that will be one of many more to come all over the United States!

Click here to RSVP and for more information

Thursday, May 10
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Austin City Hall
301 W 2nd St, Austin, TX

Get to Know: Workers Defense Project

This is the first in a regular series of blogs spotlighting organizations tackling major issues in Central Texas.

Guest post from Workers Defense Project:

Workers Defense Project (WDP) is a membership-based organization that empowers low-income workers to achieve fair employment through education, direct services, organizing and strategic partnerships. WDP was founded in August 2002 by employees and volunteers of Casa Marianella, a local Austin shelter, to address the problem of unpaid wages for Austin’s low-wage workers.

WDP is a worker center that provides low-wage workers, concentrating on the construction industry, with legal solutions for wage theft, discrimination and injury cases, as well as ESL classes, safety classes, and the leadership development they need to improve their working and living conditions. With these important resources, WDP members are able to change the conditions that negatively impact working families. WDP provides a source of power and hope for low-wage workers and is part of a national movement of organizations that seek to achieve sustainable change for working families. The organization is one of the most established worker centers in the South and a leader in fighting for fair conditions for working people.

WDP envisions a future where all low-wage and immigrant workers are treated with dignity and respect. In the wake of the 2016 election, WDP has renewed its commitment to fighting for the rights of low-wage workers and immigrants disproportionately affected by the policies of the current administration and its impact on local and statewide governance. This push back includes winning big changes in the construction industry and beyond, including:

  • Passing an ordinance requiring paid sick leave for all employees within the City of Austin;
  • Ensuring paid rest breaks for all construction workers in Austin and Dallas;
  • Suing the State of Texas over the anti-immigrant law SB 4, and moving every major city in Texas to join the lawsuit;
  • Winning fair pay and safe working conditions for more than 16,000 construction workers through WDP’s innovative Better Builder® program; and
  • Recovering more than $1.7 million in unpaid wages for more than 1,800 workers.
There are many opportunities to get involved with WDP, but none are more valued than our volunteers. Register HERE to attend our Monthly Volunteer Orientation and Volunteer Night, the first Thursday of the month at the Austin office. The next opportunity is May 3rd, 2018, 6-8PM. Contact elizabeth@workersdefense.org to learn more about the volunteer program or sign up for volunteer updates. Sign up HERE to receive our monthly e-newsletter, and click HERE to make a donation. We encourage you to visit our website or write info@workersdefense.org to learn more. WDP is grateful for the support of the community- we couldn’t do our work without you!

How Your Voices Made a Difference: The Tide is Turning

The head of the parent company of Henry Holt—the publisher that recently released Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury with eyebrow-raisingly candid comments from White House intimates about Donald’s fitness (or lack thereof)—defended itself against Donald’s cease-and-desist lawsuit, citing it as a breach of the Constitution: “a clear effort by the President of the United States to intimidate a publisher into halting publication of an important book on the workings of the government… This is an underlying principle of our democracy. We cannot stand silent,” the CEO wrote in his memo. “We will not allow any president to achieve by intimidation what our Constitution precludes him or her from achieving in court. We need to respond strongly for Michael Wolff and his book, but also for all authors and all their books, now and in the future. And as citizens we must demand that President Trump understand and abide by the First Amendment of our Constitution.”

Meanwhile, amid the dust-up over the book and those who’ve disparaged Donald in it, Steve Bannon, prime among the disparagers, has stepped down from Breitbart, his mouthpiece of hate and propaganda.

Dianne Feinstein, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence committee, overruled Republican committee head Chuck Grassley’s efforts to suppress the testimony to the committee by the former British spy who helped assemble the infamous Trump dossier for Fusion DPS. On Tuesday she released transcripts of all ten hours of testimony by Christopher Steele, which indicates the FBI believed the information Steele had given them, and that the bureau had had an informant from within the Trump camp.

On Tuesday a panel of federal judges struck down North Carolina’s voting districts as unconstitutionally gerrymandered—the first time a federal court has blocked a congressional map because of a gerrymander.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up a case over whether Texas’ congressional and state House maps discriminate against voters of color.

A San Francisco federal judge ruled—again based on Donald’s tweets and his own words right from his shithole–that the federal government must reinstate the DACA program for young immigrants to find a path to citizenship that he announced the end of in the fall, as legal challenges to the ban move forward. The federal government has accordingly announced it will continue to enroll “dreamers” in the DACA program, per the ruling.

Donald’s announcement that oil drilling would be allowed in all U.S. waters immediately met with opposition from Florida’s Republican governor, and the White House quickly excluded the state’s waters from the order. It’s likely a move to appease voters in his key state in advance of the 2018 elections, and is having bipartisan repercussions from voters and other governors across the country.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously rejected measures proposed by Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy (at least as far as he knows) that would favor the coal and nuclear industries over natural gas and renewables in competitive electricity markets. Of the five-member agency, four were appointed by Donald, three of them Republicans.

A Senate bill introduced to reverse the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality laws has received 40 senate sponsors and will proceed to the floor for a vote, which could overturn the repeal—a repeal opposed by the vast majority of Americans.

God bless the notorious RBG—Ruth Bader Ginsburg appointed law interns for the next two terms, signaling that she intends to serve at least until 2020.

New, wide-net, demographically detailed survey results by Survey Monkey reveal that Donald is not doing so well, even among his base. The tide is turning, slowly but inexorably, reminding us once again that America is great because America is good…and goodness will prevail as long as good people refuse to be silent.

A Racist Is Not Capable of Negotiating an Immigration Deal in Good Faith

On Thursday, President Trump insulted immigrants and endangered diplomatic relationships by calling African nations “shithole countries,” and demanding that Haitians and others with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) be removed from any bipartisan immigration deal.

The issue isn’t his language. This president has proven time and again to be racist and vulgar.

A racist is not capable of negotiating an immigration deal in good faith.

The issue is the dangerous position that many immigrants find themselves in today, whether they are Dreamers losing their protections on a daily basis, or people with TPS whose lives have been thrown into turmoil.

The issue is the so-called “deal,” and the vision our political leadership has for the future of immigrants who call the US home, and who will have the opportunity to come to the US in the future.

Trump made this statement during bipartisan talks on a possible legislative solution to ensure Dreamers aren’t heartlessly removed from the country they call home. Reports of these talks also indicated that members of Democratic leadership—the party that often claims to be the champion of immigrants—had already made disturbing concessions to the president before his remarks. Those concessions show that Democratic leaders are not seeking a clean DREAM Act, but instead are negotiating the future of Dreamers by blocking family-based visas for their parents, giving the president funding for “the wall,” and ending diversity visas.

The initial deal framework, as originally reported, is unacceptable. We do not ask for ceremonial statements of condemnation of the president’s remarks. We demand those who say they stand with immigrants negotiate protections for those whose status has been compromised by the revocation of DACA and TPS—with no strings attached.

Five Democrats voted against the DREAM Act in 2010 and 17 Democrats broke their promise to protect Dreamers and voted with the GOP before going home for the holidays last month.  Trump’s latest racist comments have given these incumbents a third chance to redeem themselves before this year’s primary season.

Austin-area Rep. Lloyd Doggett has long been on the side of Dreamers, and he continues to push Congress to take quick action and pass a clean DREAM Act (which he co-sponsors). More Democrats need to follow his lead.

More than 120,000 Dreamers live in Texas. Approximately 14,500 Dreamers across the country have already lost DACA status, and 122 more lose their status every day that passes without a permanent solution. If a permanent legislative solution is not passed by March, all 700,000 of our most law-abiding immigrants will lose their status. They will lose their work permits and become immediately eligible for deportation.

Dreamers are not a bargaining chip.

Dreamers are our classmates, colleagues, neighbors, and friends. Here in Texas, 2,000 of them are school teachers. We won’t accept a bad deal for those who have built a better life for their families here in America, and those who seek to.

Friday was the eighth anniversary of the earthquake that killed 160,000 Haitians. Do not let cynicism or Trump fatigue overtake you. Honor their memory and call your members of Congress and let them know you’re watching to see if they can be trusted to protect Dreamers and the American Dream itself.

La lucha continúa para proteger a Alirio de la deportación

Traducción al español por Jasmain Rodriguez. Lea en inglés.

Ha pasado un poco menos de un mes desde que anunciamos nuestro apoyo a Alirio Gámez. Alirio Gámez aún se encuentra refugiado en la Primera Iglesia Unitaria Universal de Austin, y si sale de allí, será detenido por ICE y será deportado a El Salvador. Si esto pasara, su vida estaría en peligro.

Ha llegado el tiempo de cambiar nuestras tácticas para apoyar a Alirio. El mes pasado, cien personas firmarmos una petición demandando a oficiales de ICE que usaran la discreción acusadora para permitir que Alirio permanezca en el país. ¡Queremos que escuchen nuestra voz!

Le pedimos a usted que haga una breve llamada telefónica para parar la deportación de Alirio. Hemos hecho cientos de llamadas a nuestros representantes electos para oponerse a Trump y su agenda; ahora vamos a usar nuestro tiempo y pasión en nombre de Alirio.

Haz una llamada telefónica a ICE por Alirio.

Por favor haz una llamada hoy (jueves 11/9) o mañana (11/10) durante las horas de oficina de Norma Lacy, Oficial de Inmigración al 210-283-4750.

Cuando escuche el correo de voz, presiona el número 1 y deja un mensaje. Si alguien contesta y te hace preguntas, contesta –Hable con su abogado. Ayúdenos a mantener el conteo de llamadas que se han hecho en nombre de él enviando un correo electrónico a ewelliver@grassrootsleadership.org para darnos el reporte. Gracias.

Guion de ejemplo

“Hola mi nombre es ______. Estoy llamando de (ubicación u organización) para pedirle a ICE que use se discreción acusadora para parar la deportación de Alirio Gámez A#208270481. Alirio huyó de su hogar en El Salvador en búsqueda de asilo en los Estados Unidos debido a experiencias violentas y amenazas de muerte que ha recibido. Él tiene el derecho a vivir en seguridad y eso significa quedándose aquí.

Nosotros luchamos juntos por la justicia.

Invisible Austin respeta y continúa el trabajo de la Red Santuaria de Austin y Grassroots Leadership en su apoyo a Alirio y muchas otras causas. Para más información revisa estas organizaciones.

The Struggle Continues to Protect Alirio From Deportation

Lea en español.

It has been a little under a month since we announced our support for Alirio Gámez. Alirio remains in sanctuary at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, and it remains the case that should he leave sanctuary and be apprehended by ICE, he will be apprehended by ICE and will be deported back to El Salvador. Should that happen, his life is at risk.

The time has come for us to change tactics in our support for Alirio. Last month hundred of us signed a petition demanding ICE officials use prosecutorial discretion to leave Alirio alone and let him stay. Now let them hear our voices.

We’re asking you to make a short telephone call to stop Alirio from being deported. We’ve made calls to our elected representatives now hundreds of times to push back on Trump and his agenda; now lets use our time and our passion on behalf of Alirio.

Make a phone call to ICE for Alirio

Please make a call today (Thursday 11/9) or tomorrow (Friday 11/10) during business hours to Immigration Customs Enforcement Deputy Chief of Staff Norma Lacy at 210-283-4750.

When you get a long voice mail, press 3 and leave a message. If someone answers and asks you questions, reply, “Talk to his attorney.” Help us keep track of how many calls have been made on his behalf by emailing ewelliver@grassrootsleadership.org to give us a report. Thank YOU.

Sample script

“Hello, my name is ________ . I am calling from (location or organization) to ask ICE to use its prosecutorial discretion to stop the deportation of Alirio Gámez A# 208270481. Alirio fled his home in El Salvador seeking asylum in the U.S. due to the violence he experienced and the death threats he received. He has established close community ties here and has a positive outlook in spite of the violence he experienced. He has a right to live in safety and that means staying here. Thank you.”

We fight together for justice

Indivisible Austin is admiring and amplifying the work of the Austin Sanctuary Network and Grassroots Leadership in their support for Alirio and many other causes. For more information check out those organizations.

Demand Answers for Young Woman in the Federal Government’s Care

A heartbreaking case making its way through the court system has raised extremely troubling questions on how the U.S. Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement is treating young women in need of medical care.

A 17-year-old undocumented young woman under the government’s custody was given permission by a Texas judge to choose an abortion–but the federal government is refusing to allow her to do so. They have blocked her court-appointed representatives as well as shelter personnel from transporting her to a clinic.

In fact, federal officials have actually pressured the young woman to continue her pregnancy and sent her to an ideologically driven, anti-choice “crisis pregnancy center” to try to change her mind.

This is a stark departure from the Obama Administration’s policy–and while clearly acting reprehensible in regard to this case, their actions demonstrate a broad willingness to block medical care for political reasons and allow federal employees to force their own, personal views on others.

More from the Washington Post:

Under the directorship of E. Scott Lloyd, an antiabortion activist appointed by President Trump to lead the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR began preventing federally funded shelters from “facilitat[ing]” access to abortion services unless Mr. Lloyd approved. Instead, shelters for undocumented minors may support only “pregnancy services and life-affirming options counseling.” Mr. Lloyd has personally reached out to several pregnant teenagers to counsel them against seeking abortions, reportedly viewing himself as a “foster father.”

Calls to action:

  1. Demand that your representatives tell HHS to release the young woman and to immediately cease interfering in personal medical care.
  2. Call E. Scott Lloyd’s Office of Refugee Resettlement at HHS and demand that they allow Jane Doe access to the medical care to which she is legally entitled, immediately. PHONE: 202-401-9246. FAX: 202-401-0981.

We’re supporting the petition to stop the deportation of Alirio Gámez / Nosotros apoyamos la petición para parar la deportación de Alirio Gámez

Spanish Translation by Jasmain Rodriguez

Why that matters, and how you can help

Alirio Gámez entered sanctuary at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin in August of this year, and has been living within the church since. During a press conference in September, Alirio commented “I entered sanctuary because I have a right to live, and I want my life to be respected.”

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In fact, Alirio’s life is at risk if he is deported back to his native El Salvador. In 2015 Alirio left his job and his family to escape the violence crippling his country, and threats directed towards him. After traveling by land to enter the United States, Alirio was picked up by ICE and pressured to leave, but instead he pursued the legal course of action to seek political asylum. In May, his asylum was denied and he was issued a deportation order.

I entered sanctuary because I have a right to live, and I want my life to be respected" - Alirio Gamex Alirio’s situation came to the attention of the Austin Sanctuary Network, a coalition of over 25 congregations and nonprofits in Austin, who helped Alirio find sanctuary at First UU. Together the Austin Sanctuary Network and Alirio are preparing to fight until Alirio is granted prosecutorial discretion by ICE to stop his deportation. The ASN has launched a petition campaign with that goal, and we’re asking you to sign on.

By signing the petition online, you not only add your name to the hundreds who have already, but you will automatically send an e-mail directly to ICE officials Norma Lacy and Daniel Bible requesting they use their prosecutorial discretion to allow him to remain in our community.

While Alirio is just one man, every victory against America’s deportation regime chips away at the system. In 2015, the First Unitarian Universalist Church provided sanctuary to Sulma Franco, an LGBTQ activist from Guatemala who faced persecution and violence in her home country because of her sexual orientation. Sulma was the first person to seek sanctuary from deportation in a church in Texas since the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s, but her situation ended in victory: with broad support from the community, Sulma won a Stay of deportation and 15 months later earned her US resident card to stay. We can win for Alirio too.

The extreme violence Alirio faced in Central America has everything to do with America’s militarized and politically hyperbolic “war on drugs”, combined with its insatiable appetite for those same drugs. In spite of this, the US denies asylum to 83% of seekers from El Salvador, 77% from Guatemala, 80% from Honduras and nearly 90% from Mexico. Many asylum seekers, especially those coming from Central America, do not have legal representation as they formally seek asylum in the US — 30% from El Salvador do not. By winning individual victories we can chip away at the legal culture of default deportation, and establish increasing precedence for asylum seekers to stay.

Also, we might help save Alirio’s life.

That’s why we’re asking you to sign the petition to stop Alirio’s deportation.

To keep up with this situation and learn more follow the Austin Sanctuary Network on Facebook.

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Por qué es importante y cómo usted puede ayudar:

Alirio Gámez entró en santuario en la Primera Iglesia Unitaria Universal de Austin en agosto de este año y ha vivido dentro de la iglesia desde entonces. Durante una conferencia de prensa en septiembre, Alirio comentó, “Yo entré en santuario porque tengo el derecho de vivir, y quiero que mi vida sea respetada.”

[showhide type=”translation” more_text=”Lea en español –>” less_text=”Regreso” hidden=”yes”]

De hecho, la vida de Alirio está en riesgo si lo deportan a su país natal, El Salvador. En el año 2015, Alirio dejó su trabajo y a su familia para escaparse de la violencia que está devastando su país, y de amenazas dirigidas hacia él. Después de viajar por tierra para entrar a los Estados Unidos, Alirio fue recogido por ICE y fue presionado a irse, pero optó por ejercer su derecho a buscar asilo político. En mayo, su asilo fue negado y recibió una orden de deportación.

La situación de Alirio llegó a la atención de la Red Santuaria de Austin (ASN), una coalición de más de 25 congregaciones y organizaciones sin fines de lucro en Austin, quien le ayudó a Alirio a encontrar santuario en la Primera Iglesia Unitaria Universal de Austin. Juntos la Red Santuaria de Austin y Alirio se están preparando a pelear hasta que ICE anule su orden de deportación. La organización ASN ha lanzado una campaña de petición con esa meta, y estamos pidiendo que usted también se apunte.

Al firmar la petición en línea, usted no solo añade su nombre a los centenares que ya lo han hecho, sino también puede mandar automáticamente un correo electrónico a los oficiales de ICE, Norma Lacy y Daniel Bible, solicitando que ellos usen su discreción para permitir que Alirio permanezca en nuestra comunidad.

Aunque Alirio es un solo hombre, cada victoria contra el régimen de la deportación americana debilita y desafía el sistema. En 2015, la Primera Iglesia Unitaria Universal de Austin proveyó santuario a Sulma Franco, una activista LGBTQ de Guatemala quien se enfrentó a la persecución y violencia en su país natal por su orientación sexual. Sulma fue la primera persona en buscar santuario de deportación en una iglesia de Tejas desde el Movimiento Santuario en los años 1980, pero su situación terminó en victoria: con un apoyo extenso de la comunidad, Sulma ganó una suspensión de su orden de deportación y, 15 meses después, obtuvo su tarjeta de residencia de los Estados Unidos para quedarse. También podemos ganar por Alirio.

Toda la extrema violencia que Alirio enfrentó en Centroamérica tiene que ver con la militarización de América y la hiperbólica política de “la guerra contra las drogas”, combinado con el insaciable apetito por esas mismas drogas. A pesar de esto, los Estados Unidos niega asilo a 83% de los buscadores del Salvador, 77% de Guatemala, 80% de Honduras y casi 90% de México. Muchos de los que buscan asilo político, especialmente los que vienen de Centroamérica, no tienen representación legal cuando buscan asilo en los Estados Unidos– el 30% de solicitantes del Salvador no la tienen. Al ganar victorias individuales, podemos debilitar y socavar este sistema que siempre opta por deportaciones y establecer un precedente para que los buscadores de asilo se puedan quedar.

Nosotros también podemos ayudar a salvar la vida de Alirio.

Por eso les pedimos que firmen la petición para parar la deportación de Alirio.

Para estar al día con esta situación y aprender más, sigan la Red Santuaria de Austin en Facebook.

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How Your Voices Made a Difference Last Week: DACA and the Zen Wisdom of Taking Action

After his categorical announcement terminating the DACA “dreamers” program that helps hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants on a path to education, jobs, and potentially citizenship, the ever-unpredictable Donald then did an about-face and he’ll be working with Democrats (his new BFFs “Chuck and Nancy”) to help pass legislation that protects them. Despite Paul Ryan’s bleated denials and cautions, this is great news for these “dreamers,” nearly half of whom came here before they were six years old and many who have known no home but the United States, and great news for our country: our undocumented immigrants contribute 11.74 billion in taxes (as opposed to the zero tax dollars Donald paid in the sole year of his released returns) and contribute to our society in a wide array of roles in our workforce and military. Even more good news: according to Pelosi and Schumer, these negotiations will include tightening border security—but stop short of building Donald’s ridiculous, exorbitantly expensive wall. And this may finally be the thing that begins to crack support from Donald’s die-hard core base.

Donald’s unconstitutional pardon of Joe Arpaio, the sheriff who repeatedly violated prisoners’ civil and human rights as well as his indictment for doing so, may not stand. At least four separate coalitions have filed motions protesting the pardon, and Arpaio’s conviction may yet be upheld—including objections from the federal judge who found him guilty.

Though many in this administration and the GOP continue to deny climate change, in the wake of devastating storms, fires, and earthquakes, the political conversation seems to at least be shifting toward how we can protect ourselves from its inevitable effects (even if deniers aren’t yet ready to admit what’s causing them), and many Republicans are speaking out and urging the administration to reconsider its climate policies.

Speaking of Republicans finally getting woke—the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee is considering legislation to make it harder for Donald to fire special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation.

The California legislature passed a bill requiring all presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the California ballot. If it passes in the senate it will head to the governor for his signature into law.

Meanwhile, if you want to keep track of all the Russia developments flying around (or any of the multitude of Donald’s transgressions against our country and democracy), Amy Siskind has a new searchable chart of every one of her weekly list of changes (“Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember”)—enter a keyword (may I suggest “Russia,” for example?) to get an exhaustive list of all developments regarding that topic.

Finally, if you find yourself twisted into knots of anxiety over the current administration, the New York Times published this excellent brief articleon the futility of worrying and the Zen wisdom of taking action instead. Resisting is not only not futile…it’s how we’ll overcome the forces acting against our democracy and our country, and we will win.

We’re Showing Up for Texas Today

Today we have a message for the president. Texans are hurting from Hurricane Harvey, and it will take us years to recover. While it will be some time before the full damage estimates and economic impact of the storm are assessed, we can be sure that our great state’s recovery will take a long time. But we’re Texans, and we’re not afraid of the hard work ahead of us.

Texas has never seen a storm like Harvey. It is epochal.

On his Texas visit today the president will likely take advantage of some photo opportunities, and speak some self-described perfect words. He will no doubt make promises and try to burnish his presidential image. But the real measure of his response will not be if he appears more presidential, but rather his administration’s accomplishments in the weeks, months, and years ahead. Will that response tackle not only the misfortunes of the affluent in this disaster, but also the misfortunes of those his administration has habitually targeted from its start?

It is difficult to reconcile the forthcoming pledges to rebuild impacted areas of Texas with the president’s pardon of Joe Arpaio as the storm was bearing down on Houston (for ratings, he said), his refusal to close border patrol checkpoints on evacuation routes out of South Texas, his destruction of some of our state’s most treasured natural gems to make way for his border wall, and his imminent repeal of DACA. That’s why we’re showing up for Texas today during the president’s visit.

There has never ever been a natural disaster in the U.S. during which public officials have had to clarify numerous times that those seeking shelter from the storm and  flooding will not be deported.

The test is simple. Will this administration start to take the threat of climate change seriously and begin tackling the technological and infrastructure challenges necessary to reduce the impact of future disasters like this one? Will this administration make sure that the poorest communities and communities of color – which suffer disparate impacts of natural disasters – recover from this storm? Or will those communities be offered only platitudes and empty gestures? Time will tell, but the recent actions of this administration make clear its steadfast refusal to extend the same consideration to those communities that it extends to the well-to-do. We are showing up today to make sure the administration knows we will not allow these concerns to be swept under the rug in the usual post-disaster niceties.

We also cannot forget that many other policies this administration pursues have negative impacts on our state, and when combined with the devastation from Harvey, further harm our state and our people.

The proposed border wall means Texans will lose their land through eminent domain, and fragile ecological regions will be decimated; even our own Senator John Cornyn’s recent border “security” bill doesn’t include funding for the president’s vision of this folly.

The nation’s largest inland port, Laredo, is on the front lines of the president’s Twitter war against against NAFTA. In 2015, Texas exported nearly $100 billion in goods to Mexico, and some 382,000 Texas jobs are linked to trade with Mexico. Targeting NAFTA hurts Texans and hurts our economy.

The president’s intention to rescind DACA, which is expected to happen this week, will have a disproportionate impact in Texas. Of the nearly 800,000 young adults whose DACA status has been approved, more than 25 percent of them live in Texas. They may have come to the U.S. as undocumented children through no fault of their own, but they have followed specific requirements to remain in the U.S. legally. As a result, they have graduated from colleges, started Texas businesses, bought homes, and built lives in Texas. For that they are being used to score political points by an administration determined to take a hard line on all immigrants regardless of status. He has used them as scapegoats. He lies about crime statistics to stigmatize a vulnerable group, and to stoke fear and hatred of all immigrants.

Trump’s policies will harm the Texas economy, which will be deeply strained during the long road of recovery from Harvey. We are already gearing up for the budget fights in Congress that could stifle the emergency relief we so desperately need.

Harvey has to be our top priority right now, as we anticipate thousands of evacuees coming to Austin. We have been and will continue supporting the rescuers and aid givers who need our volunteer hours and our financial and material assistance. But today we also need to send a message: Texans are great, resilient people, and we will do all we can to protect our state from policies that harm our residents and their livelihoods. 

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