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Friday 7/28 Action Opportunities

1. (From 5calls.org) In late June, a group of 10 State Attorney Generals wrote a letter to Jeff Sessions demanding the administration to rescind DACA, the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that grants protected status to immigrant children brought into the US illegally by their parents. If DACA is not rescinded by September 5th, the AG’s are prepared to challenge the program in court, using the same legal approach that led to a 4-4 SCOTUS ruling on DAPA (parents) and a DACA extension. DHS Secretary John Kelly warned the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that if a legal challenge were to arise, the Trump administration would not defend DACA, and the program would not survive. Without DACA, nearly 800,000 young people would be at risk of deportation to countries they have never known, devastating their lives and installing fear throughout our immigrant communities. Kelly’s advice to lawmakers was to solidify DACA through legislation. On July 20th, Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status and a path to citizenship for DACA participants (also known as “Dreamers”). Bipartisan support has been growing over the years to protect Dreamers, with Trump himself reversing his hard line against the program soon after he took office. However, despite Trump’s words, the new administration has pursued partisan anti-immigrant measures. Congress must quickly move to support and pass the DREAM Act to protect Dreamers, and State AG’s must defend DACA instead of threatening legal challenges. Contact our Virginia Attorney General and ask him to defend Dreamers and the DACA program in our state.

  • Mark Herring: 804-786-2071 Contact form here.
    Suggested script: “Hello, my name is _______, and my zip code is ________. I’m contacting Attorney General Herring to express my serious concern about the legal challenge threatened by other State Attorney Generals to end the DACA program. Dreamers in school, in the workforce, or who are veterans contribute greatly to our society and should be given a path to citizenship, not deported. I urge Attorney General Herring to defend Dreamers and the DACA program in our state. Thank you.”

2. On Wednesday, the Senate voted to reject (45-55) the repeal without replacing the ACA. The next big Senate event is the vote-a-rama to push a “skinny repeal” (Source: NBC). Contact our senators to tell them to oppose this measure. We all deserve better healthcare and legislation-making than this.

  • Kaine: Washington DC: 202–224–4024, Manassas 703–361–3192, Roanoke 540–682–5693, Virginia Beach 757–518–1674, Richmond 804–771–2221, Abingdon 276–525–4790, Danville 434-792–0976, and his contact form is here.
  • Warner: Washington DC 202-224-2023, Roanoke 540-857-2676, Abingdon 276-628-8158, Norfolk 757-441-3079, Richmond 804-775-2314, Vienna 703-442-0670. His “Submit Comment” form is here.
  • Suggested script:   “Hello, my name is _____ and my zip code is _____. I am contacting the senator to ask him to vote against a “skinny repeal” for the ACA. We all deserve better healthcare and legislation-making than this. Thank you.”

3. Attorney General Jeff Sessions seems determined to return our country to the past when prosecutors and judges were required to impose mandatory minimum sentences, even for non-violent offenders. This was a key “weapon” in the failed War on Drugs policy pursued in the 1980’s, which jailed a disproportionate number of poor urban black and Hispanic Americans, swelled prison populations, placed state and local governments in the impossible situation of funding and managing overcrowded prisons, and deprived millions of the right to vote. Mandatory minimum sentencing, which has been recognized by conservatives and liberals alike as restrictive and destructive, will only harm another generation of poor Americans. The ACLU reports that African Americans are 4-5 times more likely to be convicted for drug possession, even though blacks and whites use drugs at roughly the same rates. More troubling still is that even after convicts have served their time, many cannot vote, obtain employment, get loans, or even rent apartments.

The downstream effects of mass incarceration on poor urban families and communities are nearly insurmountable. The response from legislators on both sides of the aisle has been a swift and clear “no.” Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Bobby Scott (D-VA3) have reintroduced the Justice Safety Valve Act, [HR 2435] which allows prosecutors and judges to use their discretion to consider each case separately. The Justice Safety Valve Act is a crucial check on the unjust and regressive actions of the Attorney General. Contact Goodlatte to ask him to move this bill along and support it.

  • Goodlatte: Staunton (540) 885-3861, Harrisonburg (540) 432-2391, Lynchburg (434) 845-8306, Roanoke (540) 857-2672, Washington DC 202-225-5431 and 
    email form here.
  • Suggested script: “Hello, my name is _____ and my zip code is _____. I am contacting Congressman Goodlatte in support of H.R. 2435 for House, the Justice Safety Valve Act. Prosecutors and judges should use their own discretion to consider each case, instead of imposing arbitrary mandatory minimum sentences that result in mass incarceration. Please tell the congressman to give this bill his full support. Thank you.”

4. UPCOMING EVENT: Saturday – Rally in Support of Transgender Rights and Healthcare

Saturday morning, from 10-12, we will be having a rally on the Augusta County Courthouse steps. It is a dual purpose rally, to show support for transgender people, especially those in the military, and to support healthcare for all. Please come join us!

5). UPCOMING EVENT – Saturday – Indivisible Staunton Public Meeting
Saturday from 3:45-4:45pm at the Staunton Public Library, we will be having our July Public Meeting to organize a resistance event. We had some great ideas at our last meeting and now’s the time to put them into action! There will also be an opportunity to train to register to vote. The process is very simple and only takes about 15 minutes. We will be in the meeting room at the library.

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