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

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.

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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October 19: Sarah Kendzior in Austin

We are excited to kick off our new speaker series, “Understanding Autocracy,” with the writer Sarah Kendzior. Get tickets below or on Eventbrite.

Kendzior has been eerily prescient about the Trump administration.

Her essay “We’re heading into dark times. This is how to be your own light in the Age of Trump,” published on November 18, 2016, stands alongside works by Masha Gessen and other experts on authoritarianism as a roadmap for what to expect, and what we can do about it.

Kendzior’s writing appears in The Globe and Mail and many other publications, and she is a frequent guest on NPR, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, CBC News, BBC World Service and other broadcast outlets.

As part of a new series called “Understanding Autocracy,” Indivisible Austin is proud to host an opportunity to hear Sarah Kendzior speak and answer your questions.


Indivisible Austin strives to be a vocal ally for marginalized communities. A portion of proceeds from our Understanding Autocracy speaker series will go toward local organizations working to change systemic injustice and inequity. These are two organizations we are supporting.

Austin Justice Coalition is a grassroots, activist-led organization addressing community needs, increasing political involvement, empowering communities, and criminal justice reform at the local level.

Mama Sana Vibrant Woman is a community organization that works to facilitate access to culturally appropriate and quality, prenatal and postnatal care for women of color in Austin and Travis County.

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. 

Indivisible Austin
Wilco Indivisible
Indivisible TXLege
TX10 Indivisible
TX17 Indivisible
TX21 Indivisible
TX35 Indivisible

 

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/

Emergency Texas #MuslimBan Actions

This post will be updated as we get more information. Here is what we know so far:

Austin Airport: Protest planned for 2 p.m. Meet downstairs in front of the garage at the arrival terminal.
https://www.facebook.com/events/760757904100266/

Houston Airport: Protests began at 1 p.m. at Discovery Green
https://www.facebook.com/events/386770058353091/

Rally Against Hate at 5 p.m. – Terminal E
https://www.facebook.com/events/1675293846102406/

San Antonio Airport: Protests began at noon today in Terminal A, baggage claim, and are still ongoing.

DFW: Protests began last nigh and continue. People are still detained.

Tuesday is Texas Muslim Capitol Day

***Please see this post to for details on how to be a peaceful supporter for this event on Tuesday***

___

Y’all, I missed a lot of the news yesterday and this morning I was struggling to believe what I was reading.

I don’t know why I was surprised. When an autocrat tells you something, believe him.

Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization. This will happen often: humans seem to have evolved to practice denial when confronted publicly with the unacceptable. – Masha Gessen, Autocracy: Rules for Survival

About 10 days ago Texas state Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R- New Braunfels) sent a letter to Muslim organizations across Texas demanding they fill out a poll about their beliefs. He followed it up with a forum on Thursday at the State Capitol called “Defending Against Radical Islamic Terrorism in Texas,” which featured controversial speakers, some of whom claim that Texas Muslims want to overthrow our government and institute sharia law, and that they have, “a different methodology for the destruction of Western civilization…”

All of this was leading up to Texas Muslim Capitol Day on Tuesday, January 31. It’s a citizen lobby and advocacy day that happens every legislative session, and many religious groups have similar lobby days throughout the session. In recent years the event has drawn nasty and angry protests and reactions from lawmakers.

In 2015, then-Representative Molly White (R- Belton), who was not re-elected, demanded that any Muslims who came to her office recite an oath of loyalty before her staff would speak to them. She also, weirdly, left an Israeli flag on her desk. Participants in the lobby day, including school kids,  were verbally harassed and spat at.

This year’s lobby day is happening in what is probably the most hostile climate for Texas Muslims since 2001. A couple weeks ago the Islamic Center of Lake Travis’ under-construction mosque burned. Last night the Victoria Islamic Center’s mosque burned.

On Tuesday at 9 a.m. there is an opportunity to show up and stand with Texas Muslims who are engaging in participatory democracy. “Peaceful protectors” will gather to create a buffer zone between the event’s participants during their morning program on the Capitol steps, and the counter protesters. Texas Muslim Capitol Day organizers hope to get at least 200 people as Peace Observers. Representatives organized by Rep. Celia Israel and other faith leaders are expected to join in the protective action.

This is a chance to stand, indivisible, with Texans whose rights are under attack.

Justice, Safety, Opportunity at the TX Lege

State Senate Offices (for all SB- Senate Bills)

State House Offices (for all HB- House Bills)

Justice, Safety, Opportunity

Austin Justice Coalition and allied groups support the following bills and ask you to vote for them

Police accountability – (HB 854 by Reynolds, HB 158 by Dutton, HB 673 by E. Johnson)

  • Eliminate local conflicts of interest by sending officer involved deaths to an independent prosecutor
  • Increase transparency by providing the public a transcript of the grand jury deliberations that result in a no-bill when police shoot someone
  • Consolidate fragmented information about police shootings to allow for analysis and policy change

Safer traffic stops for all: end arrests for traffic tickets – (HB 567 by White/Coleman/Johnson, HB 574 by Thompson, HB 774 by E. Johnson)  If jail is not a possible punishment for an offense, officers should simply give a ticket and send the driver on their way. Sandra Bland would be alive today if the trooper could not have arrested her for failure to signal a lane change. Drivers do not believe they can be arrested for minor traffic infractions, and their instinct to question or resist increases tensions, making the stop less safe for everyone.

SB 292 — creating a grant program to reduce recidivism, arrest, and incarceration of individuals with mental illness (Nelson, Huffman, Schwertner) Money can be used for a variety of purposes including jail diversion and interdisciplinary teams to reduce police involvement in mental health emergencies.

HB 676 – 17 year olds will be prosecuted as juveniles (Wu) Currently, teens of 17 can be sent to adult prison.

  • Texas is 1 of only 9 states to send all 17-year-olds accused of a crime to adult criminal justice system.
  • Law enforcement is not required to inform parents of a 17 year old of their arrest nor do parents have a right to be involved in the court process
  • Teens held in adult facilities are at greater risk of suicide and sexual assault — 2/3 reported being sexually victimized by other inmates
  • Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) requires 17-year-olds to be separated from adults to ensure their safety in adult correctional facilities, so teens in adult facilities can spend up to 23 hours per day in solitary confinement, which can lead to physical and psychological harm.

End poverty penalty: repeal Driver Responsibility Program – (HB 67 by White, HB 275 by Gonzales, SB 90 by Hall)

  • Unable to pay the surcharges (which are civil fees assessed on top of criminal penalties and court fines), some 1.3 million drivers have lost their licenses for nonpayment. Since a valid driver’s license is required to purchase liability insurance, many may no longer be able to insure their vehicles, likely increasing the number of uninsured motorists on Texas roads.
  • Survey data indicate that low-income drivers are more likely to lose their jobs, are less likely to find a new job, and are less able to afford increased insurance premiums after having their drivers’ licenses suspended for unpaid surcharges.

Deescalate the drug war: reduce penalties for low level pot possession – (HB 81 by Moody, HB 82 by Dutton)

More than 60,000 Texans are arrested and jailed each year for minor pot charges. Bills to eliminate jail for possession of small amounts of marijuana will deescalate many encounters between the public and police, and allow officers and local leaders to focus public safety resources on solving more serious criminal and safety problems.

More information about AJC’s Policy Advocacy efforts.

 

Thanks to Austin Justice Coalition for providing this list.