Here’s what we are fighting for:
For many of us, issues of immigration are deeply personal. So many of our families include immigrants, refugees and others escaping anti-Semitism and violence. We believe we can only remain safe if we stand in solidarity with others. Regardless of a person’s country of origin, we believe he or she deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Every person has the right to live freely without fear of being separated from loved ones or displaced from his or her home by unwarranted deportation.
Rapid Response Network and Accompaniment Teams. We are an active force in Santa Clara County’s Rapid Response Network, which aims to expand the community's capacity to monitor and document Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions in real time. When we receive a call about a possible detention or deportation, we report to the site to provide support to individuals, serving as an eyewitness to ICE activities and assisting in the process of gathering evidence to help free people from ICE custody. The network also exposes any intimidating and unconstitutional tactics ICE uses to detain immigrants.The Accompaniment Team works with individuals struggling to pay rent and buy groceries and other essentials after ICE has detained or deported a family member. We collaborate with several partners in these efforts, including the nonprofit People Acting in Community Together (PACT) and Sacred Heart Community Services of San Jose.
Defund Hate. This national movement aims to reduce funding for violent and wasteful abuse of immigrants. That means decreasing funds for ICE and for the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) service and not spending a cent on any border wall construction. The campaign also aims to prevent the administration from raiding other accounts (through transfers or reprogramming) to increase funds available for the wall, for immigration detention or other anti-immigrant programs.
Through the campaign we are also working to reverse the inhumane immigration and asylum policies of this administration, including the separation of children from families at the border and the housing of children in deplorable conditions. We have been lobbying legislators and circulating petitions in support of various proposals, as well as staging an ongoing vigil in Palo Alto and supporting many Bay Area-wide protests to draw public attention to the inhumane conditions under which immigrants are being held at the border.
Preserving Sanctuary policy. In the spring, we joined many partners across Santa Clara County in opposing a proposal by the county Board of Supervisors to weaken the county’s model sanctuary policy. The proposal would have allowed the county to cooperate with ICE by notifying the agency of the imminent release from jail of an undocumented immigrant with a felony conviction for certain kinds of offenses. The move would have effectively put the individual in the hands of ICE, which has a despicable record of immigrant treatment.
Several of our Board members spoke at public hearings in opposition to the move, along with more than a hundred other individuals. We also met with County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who initially favored the proposed change but later joined all of his colleagues in voting it down in the face of enormous public pressure. Through our collective efforts, we were able to defeat a potentially damaging legislative initiative.
- Interfaith Solidarity. We believe in the concept of Beloved Community, based on the teachings of Martin Luther King, which envisions a global vision of all people sharing in the Earth’s wealth. It replaces racism, bigotry and injustice with an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. In practical terms, this translates into our support of our neighbors suffering injustice or discrimination in our local community. For instance, following the tragic killing of 52 Muslims at a mosque in New Zealand, we stood in solidarity with local Muslims during Friday prayers at the Mountain View mosque.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Police use of force. Police officers in California have been resorting to extreme tactics, including shooting, suffocating and tasering suspects, with few consequences or accountability. We have been working with a coalition of civil rights groups, family-led organizations and faith leaders across the state in supporting AB 392, the California Act to Save Lives. The legislation would require law enforcement officers to use deadly force only when necessary to immediately save a life or prevent serious bodily harm. The bill has passed the state Legislature and is currently awaiting the governor’s signature.
Money bail. We helped achieve a huge win last year with the passage of state legislation eliminating the current system of money bail. The money bail system discriminates against low-income people, many of them black and Latino people, who must remain in custody, often for many months, while awaiting trial. Under the new law, those charged with a crime won’t have to borrow money or post bail in order to be released. Local judges will be able to let people go home to prepare for trial, unless there is evidence they are likely to flee or hurt someone.
However, the bail bond industry is challenging the law with an initiative that would reinstate the use of bail bonds. The initiative will appear on the June 2020 ballot. We will be actively involved in the campaign to defeat the initiative and instate the new system.
We were actively involved during the 2018 midterm elections in helping flip Congress to the Democrats. More than 100 Bend the Arc members traveled to Tracy and Modesto in central California on multiple occasions to campaign door-to-door on behalf on Rep. Josh Harder, a freshman Democrat who was elected to Congress. We have begun working with our Bend the Arc leaders in Washington, D.C. and colleagues around the country in laying the groundwork for the 2020 elections.