Friends,

April is (ironically enough!) March season, and this week we’ve got the second of the three major Marches, happening this Saturday:

ScienceMarch

This weekend’s march is expected to be massive – we hope we’ve helped you clarify why you should march, and that we’ll see you there!

In addition to that, this week we’re attending town halls, standing up for immigrants, and shining a light on the White House:

1) March for Science!

2) Flood the White House’s “Reorganizing the Executive Branch” Survey

3) Demand the White House release its visitor logs

4) Take part in Resistance Recess, Part II

5) Combat ICE crackdowns

As usual, please take a few seconds to do our one-question survey, and keep recruiting more people to take the pledge!

Besides this week’s action items, we also have two important updates on previous items.

First, Jon Ossoff, a young Democrat making his first bid for public office, just missed an outright win and now goes to a June 20th runoff against establishment Republican Karen Handel. While Democrats were hoping for a win with 50%, getting 48.1% of the vote in a deeply red district is no small feat – and a good indication of a Democratic surge in special congressional and state elections. Want to help keep up the momentum? Refresh on your week 19 pledge action.

Second, on behalf of the organizers, a huge thank you to the 1500+ members of the MIT and Cambridge/Boston communities who came to our first ever MIT Day of Engagement, Day of Action on April 18! We are humbled by your spirit, dedication, and commitment to continued civic engagement. If you know anyone who attended, encourage them to sign the Solidarity Pledge as part of their follow-up actions!

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1) March for Science!

This Saturday, April 22, is the second major march this month, the March for Science! Though the event is officially nonpartisan, scientists across the nation are largely marching in response to the Trump administration’s climate change denialism and associated dangerous policies, budget cuts for major scientific organizations including the NOAA and the NIH, the “gag order” prohibiting the EPA and other departments and agencies from communicating with the public, and bills targeting the EPA’s research.

Since its inception, the march has attracted many critics. Some assert that science should not be politicized, others believe that the march is not political enough, and others criticize the institution of Western science itself. Nature, in its official endorsement of the March for Science, succinctly addresses the first concern. Should you find yourself in one of the latter two camps, we encourage you not to let your critique disengage you from the broader movement. A good starting point is to read this open letter endorsing the March while calling attention to indigenous sciences. And rather than disengage, share your reasons for (or reservations about) marching – open-minded and respectful dialogue benefits us all!

What you can do:

  • March! Find your local march here, and join in on Saturday!
    • MIT community: Join the MIT rally at noon on the steps of the Student Center (W20) to hear fellow community members speak and head over to the Boston Common together for the main march.
  • Share your reasons for marching. You may be just the push a colleague needs to grasp the necessity of political power for scientists or the push a fellow marcher needs to critically reconsider their own positions on and within science.

 

  • Learn about other ways of doing science. Indigenous sciences and citizen sciences were developed to produce knowledge for their own communities. Increasingly, academics are recognizing the value in alternative knowledge systems, collaborating with and learning from non-academic communities. Read about examples such as Inuitsfirsthand experience of climate change and communities studying toxins in their neighborhoods.

2) Flood the White House’s “Reorganizing the Executive Branch” Survey

The Trump administration has created biased surveys for political purposes before, and it’s up to the same trick again with a new survey asking which administrative departments and agencies should be reformed—or eliminated.  This is just part of a pattern of what Steve Bannon calls the “deconstruction of the administrative state,” but which in practice means beefing up the budgets for defense and security while gutting every other form of government protection and treating the rest of the government like a for-profit business.

While this survey is hardly going to provide anyone with any meaningful social science data, we can prevent Trump from using it as a political talking point by telling the White House what we really think.  If you need any ideas for something to say other than “NONE,” you can always suggest reforming or eliminating the White House.

What You Can Do:

3) Demand the White House release its visitor logs

The Obama administration maintained public records of everyone who visited the White House (although it made substantial exceptions for national security and for designated social guests, including celebrities). However, the White House announced last Friday that it would drop this public accountability rule, meaning that White House visitor logs will be not be publicly available until five to twelve years after the end of the Trump administration. Even the conservative Judicial Watch stated that this policy “undermines the rule of law and suggests this White House doesn’t want to be accountable to the American people” (emphasis added).

What you can do:

  • Sign this petition demanding that Congress pass legislation requiring the Trump administration to release visitor logs. (Trump can of course veto legislation, but that level of public attention can force a response even if a veto is technically an option.)
  • Call your representatives and senators! Encourage them to support legislation to require that visitor logs be released.

4) Take part in Resistance Recess, Part II

Congress is in the middle of a two-week recess, meaning that senators and representatives are once again coming home to face the music! Check out some of the highlights so far from MoveOn.org’s story and find events near you. Not sure what to ask? Here are five questions to get you thinking. Many constituents are focusing on health care after the GOP failed to replace Obamacare before the break.

What you can do:

  • For an in-depth guide to getting involved in town halls, read Call the Halls. Indivisible also has more modular resources.
  • If your MoC has already taken the position you favor, thank them for doing so! It is personally encouraging to your representatives, and it helps demonstrate clear support for the position they’re taking.
    • If this position aligns with their party line, ask that they maintain a strong and uncompromising stance.
    • If this position breaks with their party line, 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.
  • For a reminder on last week’s items for town halls, click here.

5) Combat ICE crackdowns

Federal immigration officials have been waiting in the hallways of courthouses across the country, sparking a heightened state of fear among immigrant communities. Multiple women have dropped domestic violence cases out of fear that they will be deported while pursuing justice, and there are even reports that ICE has acted outside the legal scope of their expanded imperative to deport illegal immigrants by taking DACA students from courthouses.

The deportations from courthouses are especially devastating because this powerfully deters undocumented people from seeking justice if they are the victims of a crime. We cannot allow almost 3% of the population in our country to be barred from having any legal recourse to mistreatment. The California Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye (a Republican) wrote to Jeff Sessions to urge federal immigration officials to stop “stalking” local courthouses, and he strongly defended the actions as fully constitutional.  

There is an important existing ICE memo which discourages arrests in “sensitive” locations: hospitals and places of worship. Certain legislators have proposed a bill to cement that recommendation into a law, as well as to expand the definition of “sensitive locations” to include, for example, courthouses and bus stops. The bill is unlikely to become law without Republican support, but it is important “message legislation” that would encourage curtailment of ICE’s free reign and bring attention to the dirtiness of the methods that they employ.

 

  • We are asking you to call Congress so they pass along a strong message.

 

In particular, if your senator is on the Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration or the Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, this is an issue they prioritize/where they wield influence.

 

  • Ask your officials to write to Sessions, then mail him a letter of your own, to stand with Justice Cantil-Sakauye in saying that these courthouse crackdowns are immoral and unjust.
  • Become a “Know Your Rights” Advocate. Disseminate flyers like these to make sure people at risk will not be taken off guard. For a more comprehensive list of community responses, click here.

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That’s all for this week. As always, keep encouraging people to take the pledge, and please share any thoughts or questions with us at solidarity@mit.edu!

Until next week,

Solidarity MIT
solidaritypledge.com

 

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