A Day on the Hill

(Read about day 1 of my trip to D.C.)

Bright and early last Thursday morning I headed to the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center for the weekly coffee with Sen. John Cornyn, which I RSVP-ed for in advance (and I don’t know if they spend any time researching attendees, but I suspect they do).

Texas flag sign that say says Texas Thursday Coffee Senator John Cornyn
Even Texas signs are bigger

It was gorgeous DC day, and this sort of picture-perfect postcard view of the Capitol is enough to give even the most jaded Texas gal a little hope.

U.S. Capitol dome
Our Capitol is beautiful, majestic, and inspiring.

I joined about 50 other fellow Texans at the coffee, which was held in a large meeting room in the visitors center. I had a few minimum expectations about this event, and I had prepared for any opportunity to speak to or ask questions of the senior senator from Texas. I was ready to talk to him about the family separation policy, gun safety reform, and health care. I was also aware that I was in a room full of people who likely had diverse views on all these issues.

I got my coffee and filled out my photo information form. And then waited for something to happen.

At about 9:50 a staffer (not intern–though they were mostly young white male interns) came in and made a beeline to an older gentleman wearing a Make America Great Again hat. She spent a fair bit of time talking to him and his (I assume) wife.

A few other staffers came in and each spoke with a few folks. In the meantime, they started to line us up to take our photos with the senator. Finally Sen. Cornyn came in and went straight to the flags for photos. We were hustled through very quickly, maybe 15 seconds each, and since no one else was chatting him up I didn’t either. That was a crucial mistake.

More than 50 constituents came to the coffee, and our senator didn’t take any time to speak with us, except for banalities while shaking hands and taking a picture. He whizzed in, took photos for 10 minutes, and then disappeared. There was no welcome from him or from his staff. There was no acknowledgement that most people in the room had traveled from Texas to be there. And there was absolutely no opportunity to engage with our senator about any of the critical policy issues.

I have been to D.C. for enough meetings with members of Congress over the years to have had a certain set of expectations about what happens when 50 constituents are in the room. I learned my lesson and I’m passing it on to you: go to the coffee, get the photo, but also make the appointment and go to the office.

As interns started coming into the room to give people information about their tours, I took my last opportunity to connect with staff. I hand-delivered 300 postcards constituents had signed over the last couple of months, asking Sen. Cornyn to pass basic gun safety reforms that the vast majority of Texans and Americans support. If you wrote a postcard to Sen. Cornyn at the March for Our Lives or the Town Hall for Our Lives, they were delivered, and I hope you get a response. Please share it if you do!

Approximately 300 postcards from Sen. John Cornyn's constituents, asking for strong gun safety measures to protect our children.
Approximately 300 postcards from Sen. John Cornyn’s constituents, asking for strong gun safety measures to protect our children.

My next meeting on the hill couldn’t have been more different. I had reached out to Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s D.C. office the week before my trip and asked if I could stop by and meet some of the staffers so I could put names to faces. I expected to spend about 15-30 minutes at the office at most, but was treated to the opportunity to spend some time with each member of the congressman’s policy team. All my preparation paid off!

In the time I spent with the congressman’s staff, we discussed family separation and what’s happening here in Austin, as well as upcoming Congressional trips to the border; gun violence prevention actions and the hearing on red flag laws and safe gun storage at the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence committee on June 25; work being done to address out-of-control drug prices; the immigration bills that will hit the House floor this week (they are both bad, so call your reps!); the new poll on support for Medicaid expansion in Texas. We probably touched on a few other things I’ve forgotten.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett and Lisa Goodgame
Thank you for taking a few minutes to chat!

As I was about to leave, Rep. Doggett appeared, and he generously gave me a few minutes. We talked about several of the items on the list above, but most specifically about the actions Democratic members of Congress are taking to address family separation. Something is happening out there, and people are deeply moved by the horror we’re seeing play out at the border. I’m thankful for the members who are putting this issue front and center, and I hope it will drive some change in Congress. But when we see Texas members of Congress hailing the policy as a positive development while also lying that it’s happening because of a law passed by Democrats it’s hard to imagine any sort of solution. Also, do they not hear themselves contradicting themselves in that lie?

With just about an hour left in my schedule, I quickly headed to the offices of Rep. Flores, Rep. Smith, and Rep. McCaul to drop off more postcards asking for stronger gun safety measures, as well as some letters from voters. I have a plan to visit Sen. Cruz’s office next time I’m in D.C.

I caught a member of Rep. McCaul’s staff in the middle of lunch, but I made him listen to me for several minutes as I shared my concerns on the policy of family separation, the criminalization of asylum-seekers, and the need to change this inhumane response to people fleeing violence. He listened, was reasonably friendly, and promised to put my concerns in the database. I’ll let you know if I get a response.

Here’s my key takeaway from this trip: really bad shit is happening in our government every single day and the executive branch agencies are being gutted and destroyed by political appointees. We can campaign our butts off trying to get new people elected in November, but right now most of our representatives are co-signing everything the president wants. Our representatives have traded away a lot of their decency for tax cuts. Each day that we don’t call or take action and engage the people who represent us right now, we are tacitly telling them that we’re OK with what they’re doing and how they are representing us.

We. Are. Not. Don’t let them forget it.

Indivisible Goes to Washington

Last week I had the opportunity to go to Washington with about 40 other Indivisible leaders from across the country. It was a wonderful chance to meet some of the folks I’ve gotten to know virtually over the last year-and-a-half, while also connecting with some of the Indivisible national staff.

Indivisible leaders from California to Maine and points in between gathered in D.C.
Indivisible leaders from California to Maine and points in between gathered in D.C. Photo by Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth/Indivisible Illinois

We had a nice meetup followed by dinner, as we prepared to attend the We the People Summit the next day along with about 1,000 people from the labor movement, as well as allies such as Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, United We Dream, and many more. We also ran into some of our Austin friends from Workers Defense Project!

Progressive activists joined Communications Workers of America at the We The People 2018 Summit.
Progressive activists joined Communications Workers of America at the We The People 2018 Summit. Photo by Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth/Indivisible Illinois

The summit was actually a forum with a number of Democratic members of Congress (some of whom are likely 2020 candidates). Here’s a video recap from MSN, along with other analysts discussing the 2020 field. We heard from:

Sen. Cory Booker
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Sen. Kamala Harris
Sen. Bernie Sanders
Rep. Pramila Jayapal
Rep. Luis Gutierrez

Each member gave a brief speech, and then took 2-4 questions, depending on available time. Vox has a pretty good recap of each speaker. The topics they covered were broad, but had common themes: an economy that isn’t working for many Americans, worsened by the massive tax scam; immigration policies and zero-tolerance crackdowns that are tearing families apart; racial bias in the criminal justice system and mass incarceration; uncontrolled drug prices; corruption as the basic mode of operation of the White House.

Senator Kamala Harris of California addresses the crowd at the We the People Summit.
Senator Kamala Harris of California addresses the crowd at the We the People Summit. Photo by Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth/Indivisible Illinois

Indivisible member Ricky Silver from New York asked Sen. Gillibrand whether she’d support a tax on every Wall Street transaction. The senator has been challenged on her cozy relationship with Wall Street, and apparently she was not expected to answer the question directly. To everyone’s happy surprise, she not only directly answered the question, but for the first time said on the record that she’d support the transactions tax as a means of reigning in income inequality.

After the forum concluded, we went a short distance to D.C.’s Freedom Plaza where Rep. Jayapal and Rep. John Lewis, among others, and about 200 activists gathered for a rally and march to the D.C. office of Customs and Border Protection. Several members of Congress as well as about a dozen activists then started a sit-on on the steps of the office and prepared to be arrested. Unfortunately I had to leave early, but reports from the field told me no one was arrested. (Facebook video from Workers Defense Project)

L: Members of Congress lead the Families Belong Together rally and march to Customs and Border Patrol; M: Marchers headed to Customs and Border Patrol office in D.C.; R: Families belong together rally outside Customs and Border Patrol office in D.C.
L: Members of Congress lead the Families Belong Together rally and march to Customs and Border Patrol; M: Marchers headed to Customs and Border Patrol office in D.C.; R: Families belong together rally outside Customs and Border Patrol office in D.C. Photo credit Lisa Goodgame/Indivisible Austin

I met up with a friend for dinner. We knew each other when I worked as a foreign service officer, and this person continues to work for the State Department. My friend flagged a story in Foreign Policy about the deconstruction of the administrative state happening within the State Department, illustrated by a newish appointee who has been compiling an “enemies list” and working to destroy the U.S. relationship with international organizations like the United Nations and WHO, among others. As bad as you think it might be, it’s worse. The brain drain and diplomatic talent leaving the State Department (voluntarily or being forced out) is something we won’t recover from for a long time.

The food was good, the company enjoyable, but I left with a troubled feeling of unease.

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.”

[showhide type=”english” more_text=”Continue reading in English –>” less_text=”Back” hidden=”yes”]

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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