Speaking up makes a difference
Together our goals of respect, decency, and kindness are moving forward because we keep showing up for our neighbors in these times. Speaking up matters. And it makes an impact. Ready for some progress updates?
Impact 1: We supported readers and learners in prison
Over the past couple of years, we’ve asked you to support the Prison Book Program, a nonprofit that sends free books to people in prison in 44 states. Your generosity has been and continues to be astounding. In March 2018, AoCC subscribers donated 384 books and $1,327 to the program. In May 2019, we donated 170 books to people in prison, and donated $620 to support the work.
Last month, we again highlighted this cause in the June 7 checklist. In addition, Director Katie Vhay was invited to speak at Jen Hofmann’s Sunday Spark session. The week after, Katie Vhay sent the following note:
“We have been so grateful for the donations [from the AoCC community]!! In the past week, 300 wish list books and more than $2,800 were donated! I was touched by the thoughtful notes that people included with their Amazon books and am including those notes in the packages we send out this week.”
While we work to get people released from prison during the pandemic and end incarceration, you are making life more bearable behind bars. Thank you!
Impact 2: We helped a family needlessly devastated by COVID-19
In the June 7, 2020 checklist you learned about a family grieving for husband and father, Santiago Baten-Oxlaj, a 34-year-old community member from the Atlanta, Georgia area. After contracting COVID-19 in an unsanitary ICE detention center and a hospitalization of over five weeks, he died from complications. His wife and three children found themselves in need of support for rent, bills, and food.
Prior to sharing this tragic story in the AoCC checklist, the GoFundMe donations to help this family had almost stopped at $2,165. Within a week after the Checklist came out, your donations more than doubled the total fundraised. To date, the total has reached $5,852. Many of the donations included a note from AoCC subscribers and kind words of support.
The ally who brought this family’s situation to our attention sent us the following note:
“Please thank all of the AoCC members who have given to Santiago’s family! After your Checklist came out, so many people were giving! It went up by $3,122! Santiago was the sole provider of his family. This will greatly help his family with their rent, utilities, and food. Thank you for caring about those who have suffered in immigrant detention centers. Thank you again for the kind hearts of every AoCC member.”
Impact 3: Movement on DC Statehood
Because we believe in congressional representation for all US citizens, AoCC supports DC statehood. Over 700,000 Americans live in DC and pay taxes without Congressional representation. 70% of DC’s workforce is in the private sector, and together they pay more taxes than nearly half of US states. AoCC has supported past and current versions of H.R. 51 and S. 631 that would make DC the 51st state and award its citizens the same rights as every other American, most recently on February 16, 2020.
Recently, we have seen some significant movement on this bill. H.R. 5803 was introduced in February 2020 and replaced H.R. 51. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform voted to issue a report to the full House chamber and recommended the bill be considered further. On June 18, 2020, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform issued a report. Since only about 1 in 4 bills are reported out of committee, this was great progress.
Then, in a historic vote on June 26, 2020, the House approved statehood for the District of Columbia 232 to 180. This is the first time a chamber of Congress has approved establishing the nation’s capital as a state.
With the passing of this bill, it has moved to the Senate where it faces an uphill battle. S. 631 currently has 40 co-sponsors, with 5 signing on in June. You will see future actions in the AoC Checklist to move this bill forward in the Senate. Although with the current leadership may not allow it to pass, DC’s time will come. In the meantime, we can celebrate the progress we’ve made so that all Americans’ voices can be heard in Congress.
Impact 4: Progress on the safety of children and families in ICE detention
AoCC has been very outspoken about the conditions and inhumane treatment of children and families in ICE detention centers. In previous administrations, people seeking asylum and refuge were allowed to live with family or friends and check in regularly with government officials. This was both humane and cost-effective.
Since AoCC’s beginning, we grew concerned about the profit motive of incarcerating people with a legal right to apply for asylum. We have asked you to take actions in support of basic decency in immigration and for the release of people from these centers while their cases are pending.
Most recently, on June 7, 2020, we asked you to show support for the release of all aspiring Americans from ICE detention centers in light of the spreading pandemic. In the May 17, 2020 Checklist, in solidarity with Immigrant Justice Network, NeverAgainAction, and RAICES, we called again for the release of children and families, objecting to the president’s “binary choice” policy which coerces parents to release their children unaccompanied, and risk their potential adoption.
On Friday, June 26, 2020 a federal judge ordered ICE to free detained immigrant children due to COVID-19. All children held in ICE custody for more than 20 days must be released by July 17. The order applies to all three of the family detention facilities in the U.S. Two are located in Texas and a third is in Pennsylvania, as well as shelters housing unaccompanied minors. We are thrilled to see justice and decency persevere.
We will continue to insist that ICE keep families together and release families in tact while they await hearings on asylum and refuge. Thank you for continuing to speak up about the rights of our most vulnerable community members.
Impact 5: Expressing your concerns about the November election
In the June 7, 2020 AoC Checklist, we asked you to share what you’re concerned about regarding the upcoming November election. 712 people completed the form! Thank you!
We’re using your input–as well as in-depth research–to increase voter participation in the November election. Recent primaries have laid bare the strategic efforts that deprive citizens of their right to cast a ballot. It’s wrong.
So this July, Americans of Conscience Checklist will bring you specific actions to expand voting rights for all citizens and increase participation safely during a pandemic. We still have time to ensure voters have ballots this November.
We have a goal: 6000 pro-voting actions in July. This means you need to complete 5 new actions this month. Can we do it? The next Checklist comes out on July 12!
How many actions have we taken?
From the May 17, 2020 Checklist, the AoCC community reported taking 3026 actions!
- Action 1: Express sincere gratitude to someone ー 498
- Action 2: An ID today is a vote tomorrow ー 188
- Action 3: Support the U.S. Postal Service ー 838
- Action 4: Advocate for polling-place safety this November ー 140
- Action 5: Keep track of the primary election in your state ー 282
- Action 6: Speak up to prevent discrimination ー 221
- Action 7: Advocate for the health of people in prisons ー 152
- Action 8: Support voting rights for people who are incarcerated ー 103
- Action 9: Advocate for COVID-19 relief for all people in America ー 144
- Action 10: Advocate for the safety of children and families in ICE detention ー 130
- Action 11: Support the strengthening of America’s healthcare workforce ー 99
- Action 12: Oppose blocking entry to asylum-seekers ー 115
- Gratitude 1: Thank Sens. Cory Booker (D–NJ) and Kamala Harris (D–CA) for urging anti-bias training for law enforcement officers ー 78
- Gratitude 2: Thank Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) for publicly opposing the administration’s firing of Inspectors General with apparent bias ー 38
In the June 7, 2020 Checklist, the AoCC community reported taking 3317 actions!
- Action 1: Make an action plan ー 169
- Action 2: Make a self-care planー 126
- Action 3: Vote in your state’s upcoming primary election ー 233
- Action 4: Support effective local elections ー 181
- Action 5: Complete our election priorities survey ー 488
- Action 6: Speak up for Breonna Taylor ー 291
- Action 7: Advocate for police reform ー 367
- Action 8: Support health for Alaska Native people ー 109
- Action 9: Support health care for aspiring Americans ー 188
- Action 10: Protect unemployment insurance for women out of work ー 161
- Action 11: Support reopening efforts with dependable child care services ー 182
- Action 12: Speak up for your community’s hungry children ー 72
- Action 13: Support readers and learners in prison ー 106
- Action 14: Help a family needlessly devastated by COVID-19 ー 79
- Action 15: Advocate for the rights of asylum seekers in detention ー 185
- Action 16: Advocate for COVID-19 relief for all people in America ー 153
- Gratitude 1: Thank Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, for fact-checking the president’s tweets and not exempting him from Twitter’s code of conduct ー 124
- Gratitude 2: Thank Gov. Mike DeWine (R–OH) for stating that wearing face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic is an apolitical public health measure ー 103
In one month, AoCC members took 6,343 total reported actions! This is nearly 1,000 more than our previous record!
The progress may seem incremental and slow, but we’re getting there together. Thank you for showing up and speaking up!
— Jen Hofmann and the AoCC Team
P.S. Kudos to the AoCC Impact Team–Christine B and Kathryn D–for their hard work gathering this research together to encourage us to persevere. Thank you!