Friends,

The tide of executive orders has slowed, but it’s still been an eventful week, with ICE raids, the resignation of Michael Flynn from his position as National Security Advisor, and increasing reports tying Trump aides to Russia. We’re especially worried about immigrants in light of the recent ICE actions, and have put together an extensive (but by no means exhaustive) list of actions you can take and organizations that will need increasing amounts of support. The next few weeks will likely

This week, we’re doing our part with four action items plus a few activist self-care tips (because it’s important to take care of yourself, too!). Do as many as you can! Please also take a few seconds to do our one-question survey, and remember, we’re relying on you to spread the word!

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1) Support immigrants’ rights

Last week, ICE started conducting raids against individuals residing in the US without legal documentation. According to the Department of Homeland Security, between Monday and Friday afternoon over 680 people were arrested in at least 6 different states. Those arrested included individuals without criminal records and at least one DACA recipient in Seattle, Washington (despite his existing valid work permit).  For an overview of the raids and reports surrounding them, check out “The first immigration raids of the Trump era, explained.ICE cancelled a meeting with members of Congress on Tuesday, and has repeatedly claimed the arrests were part of “routine” and “targeted” enforcement actions.

What can we do now?

  • Sign a pledge to support immigrants at risk of deportation, and become part of the #HereToStay Network
  • Share the ACLU’s Know Your Rights pamphlet and the Immigrant Defense Project’s ICE Raids Toolkit
  • Support community and religious groups pushing for sanctuary actions
  • Share the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s statement on the raids and consider donating
  • Speak out: consider writing about the immigration related Executive Order, the destructive ICE raids, and the fear and destruction these policies have already caused. View tips for writing an op ed, a guide to writing a blog post, and several notes on creating a more effective facebook post.
  • Be educated, be intersectional, and be in touch with your community.
  • Consider getting involved with local groups working on refugee/immigrant rights/services:
    • Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition: Boston-based
      • Works to support foreign-born MA residents mainly through policy analysis and advocacy, institutional organizing, training and leadership development, strategic communications, citizenship assistance, and AmeriCorps initiatives that provide capacity-building for community-based organizations.
      • Volunteer for their citizenship clinics, to help with voter registration for newly naturalized citizens, or intern with them.
      • They are having an open house aptly titled “Now What?” on Thursday, February 16. See the event on their Facebook page and register here!
    • International Institute of New England (IINE): Based in Lowell, MA
      • Refugee resettlement organization; offers services such as job preparation and placement, education and literacy training, health and mental services navigation, civic engagement preparation, and support for ongoing access to basic needs.
      • You can sign up to volunteer, donate, or seek information about their services or about employing refugees through their program here.  If you are interested in interning with IINE, they offer both administrative and direct service opportunities.
    • Kids in Need of Defense (KIND): Nationwide, has an office in Boston.
      • KIND provides pro bono attorneys to represent unaccompanied children in their deportation proceedings, as well as legal screenings, and Know Your Rights presentations. They also do public outreach, education, and advocacy work with the White House, Capitol Hill and federal agencies, and is expanding its regional work in Central America and Mexico to protect children’s rights and safety before, during and after migration.
      • Volunteer (no immigration experience necessary) or donate!
    • Refugee Immigration Ministry (RIM): Based in Malden, MA and has service “Clusters” for asylum seekers in Cambridge, Chelmsford/Lowell, Metro-North, North Shore and Metro-West areas
      • An interfaith faith-based group that provides assistance with food, housing, and transportation for asylum-seekers, offers English Language classes and job placement help, and sends “Spiritual Care-Givers” from multiple participating faith groups to people being held in detention centers
      • Opportunities to get involved include volunteer work, cell-phone donations, and more.
    • Centro Presente:
      • A member-driven statewide Latin American organization, primarily Central American Immigrants, fighting for immigrant rights and social/economic justice that offers youth programs, adult education, legal services, and runs community organizing efforts.
      • Current campaigns include the MA Trust Act Campaign, which to take proactive action so that local governments would not submit to ICE burdensome requests to detain people for deportation that the courts would otherwise release, as well as a Just Communities/Comunidades Justos campaign to fight criminalization of illegal immigrants and a Somos/We Are initiative to inspire immigrants to fight for legislation which reflects their humanity
      • Volunteer to assist the legal department, or with political advocacy/community organizing, or their adult education programs.
    • LexRAP: Based in Lexington, MA
      • Support/assist refugees and asylum seekers, currently through 3 main avenues: facillitating hosting asylum seekers, hosting unaccompanied minors, and services (English/math tutoring, housing and transportation support).
      • Looking for volunteers in a wide range of areas
    • Refugee & Immigrant Assistance Center (RIAC): Offices in Boston, Worcester, and Lynn, MA
      • Established in 1993, it is a community-based, grassroots organization dedicated to promoting educational and socio-economic development in Massachusetts refugee and immigrant communities.
      • Donate here or contact them to ask for more information on volunteering.
    • Search for more organizations through the National Immigration Legal Services Directory.

2) Up your Congress Game

Congress is on recess for the next week, so most members of Congress (MoCs) are holding local Town Halls in their state or district. So it’s the perfect time to attend a town hall in your district (and bring a friend)!

Showing up in person is the best way to influence your representatives. The past week alone has shown the power of in-person meetings: angry constituents drowned out Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, at his own town hall; Rep. Jim Renacci of Ohio hosted a private, invite-only meeting instead of a town hall; other representatives have found their town halls flooded with constituents. Representatives are feeling the pressure.

Find your Representatives’ upcoming Town Halls at the Town Hall 2018 project, sign up for Voterheads to get notified, or look on your MoC’s homepage (find your MoC here). Before you go, read this guide on how to communicate effectively, and check out the Congressional Management Foundation’s report on citizen advocacy.

The strategy for Town Halls (and phone calls) differs a bit depending on where your MoC stands on an issue:

  • If your MoC has already taken the position you favor, thank them for doing so! It is both personally encouraging to your representatives, and helps demonstrate clear support for the position they’re taking.
    • If this position aligns with party lines (e.g. a Democrat defending the ACA), ask that they maintain a strong and uncompromising stance.
    • If this position breaks with their party line (e.g. a Republican defending the ACA), thank them all the more for their courage.
  • If your MoC has taken a position you disagree with, express your disapproval (politely!). Regardless of which party they’re from, consider arguing that said position is not true to their party philosophy, with the implicit threat of being primaried.
  • If your MoC has not taken a public position on the issue, call on them to do so.
    • If the position you want them to take aligns with their party line, ask why they haven’t yet expressed one, and demand that they take a stronger stance.
    • If you are trying to get them to break with party line, ask them to show courage, leadership, integrity, and attention to their constituents by doing so.

If you can’t make it in person, phone calls still work, but remember a few things to make your calling even more effective:

    • Focus on district offices first rather than DC offices.
    • Have a clear, actionable, and easily verified ‘ask’, e.g. to vote a certain way on a piece of legislation, or to publicly express support or opposition to something.
    • Make it personal. Explain the reasons for your ask, and link it to some matter of personal interest – how a policy affects you or someone close to you, for instance.

 

  • Make sure you’re talking to the right MoC. Some matters are relevant only for the Senate, for instance, so there’s no point asking your Representative to act on it. Other issues are only relevant to members of certain House or Senate committees. For the Solidarity Pledge weekly action items, we always try to ensure we’re directing you to the right people, but if you’re making calls on your own, be sure to double-check!

 

  • Focus on your MoCs. MoCs pay attention to their own voters first and foremost. Don’t call other people’s MoCs, as that just clogs the phone lines for actual constituents, especially if there’s a big nationwide calling effort. The exception is when a specific MoC is being targeted, usually a party leader (e.g. Paul Ryan, or Chuck Schumer) or specific committee chair.
  • Download the Countable app to help you track bills and figure out calling.
  • Make arrangements with friends to phonebank together or keep each other accountable for Congressional contacts!
  • If your rep’s voicemail box is full, you can still send a letter or a personalized email, or get creative and order flowers or pizza with a message.
  • For more information, read the Call the Halls guide and the Congressional Management Foundation report.

 

3) Russia, Michael Flynn, and the 2016 Election

President Trump’s national security advisor, Michael Flynn, has resigned, adding emphasis to the need for investigating Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election (check out a short and long primer on Russian involvement). Chief among the concerns with Flynn’s conduct are whether or not he discussed U.S. sanctions with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during pre-inauguration phone calls; here’s what we do and don’t know. What’s clear is that Flynn made diplomatic moves as a private citizen, which is illegal under the Logan Act. Relatedly, here’s an interesting take on why democracy should be worried that he was taken down by anonymous leaks from unelected intelligence officials.

More importantly, Trump knew the Department of Justice was looking into Flynn’s conduct far before Vice President Mike Pence did. Prominent republicans are calling for Flynn’s investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee, but the House Oversight Committee has been less than forthcoming. As the story continues to unfold, more Trump aides are being implicated in speaking to Russian intelligence officials. Before the election, both Obama and Trump were briefed on the “constant communication” between known Russian intelligence agents and members of the Trump campaign. There is concern that members of the Trump team may have been involved in coordinating the release of damaging information on Hillary Clinton prior to the 2016 election.

What you can do:

4) [Boston area] Attend #StandUpForScience rally

There will be a #StandUpForScience rally in Boston this Sunday, February 19 from 12:00-1:30 in Copley Square. Check out the Facebook event and RSVP page– although, as always, it’s not necessary to RSVP- just show up! Also check out this list of upcoming protests in the Boston area put together by Boston Magazine.

5) Activism and Self-care

Political engagement is hard work at the best of times, and may feel a bit like banging your head against a brick wall – only now the wall has spikes, and the Trump administration is on the other side pushing it toward us like Sean Spicer’s lectern. Throwing yourself at it 100% can lead to burnout: fatigue, frustration, and feelings of disillusionment. So it’s essential that you take care of yourself. There are several guides available on self-care and burnout prevention, starting with this and this. We’ve summarized some concrete steps here, and additional guides are available below:

    • Find a form of activism you like. You don’t have to force yourself to do something you hate, like speaking at a rally if you’re terrified of public speaking. The Solidarity Pledge is all about working activism into your daily life. Focus on what fulfills you, whether you join a political party, engage representatives, or educate family and friends.
    • Be conscious in your use of social media. Facebook, Twitter, and so on are great ways to organize, but can also be enormous sources of stress. Moderate your use, learn to recognize trolling, and disengage any time you need to.
    • Figure out what relaxes you. What works for someone else may not work for you. So decide if you’re most comfortable when you take a walk, listen to music, read poetry, or something else.
    • Plan self-care into your schedule. That way, you’re guaranteed to have time for it. Plan a dinner with close friends. Set aside time to nap. Follow TinyCareBot or HydrateBot on Twitter to send you reminders.
    • Say no. You can’t do everything, and you shouldn’t expect yourself to, even if it feels like you have to keep fighting. A helpful mantra for this is: I have enough. I do enough. I am enough.

 

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That’s all for this week. And as always, keep encouraging people to take the pledge, and please do share any thoughts or questions with us at solidarity@mit.edu (note the new email address!). We especially welcome suggestions for action items, or volunteers to help manage the Pledge!

Until next week,

Solidarity MIT

solidaritypledge.com

 

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