We’re living in a police state. Just ask immigrants.

Update: There’s been a lot of confusion about what’s going on with the missing children. I was wrong in saying that they were separated from their parents at the border — Jeff Session’s unconscionable policy is a new one, and will create many orphans, but it didn’t cause this situation. And some of the kids went to family. But as the Washington Post points out, ORR really did lose track of the kids, and it’s likely that some are in bad situations. And nothing about this update changes the barbarism being inflicted upon immigrants and Latin Americans by ICE, Jeff Sessions, and the conservative lawmakers highlighted below:


Even during an era in which the velocity of breaking atrocities and outrages has numbed the senses, the latest dispatches from the ongoing nightmare at the southern border stick out as particularly devastating tragedies. This past week, it became more clear than ever to the general public that there is a fully authorized, government-sanctioned Gestapo terrorizing Latin Americans in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida and other states where refugees and hopeful immigrants tend to arrive and live.

First, there is the story of the missing children. It emerged that the Office of Refugee Resettlement has lost track of nearly 1500 young immigrant children who it placed into some kind of foster care — and that’s just during a three month period in 2017. The number of small children left to fend for themselves in this strange and scary country is probably far higher.

It is a breathtaking admission, and the product of a purposely cruel policy put in place by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. ICE, the aforementioned Gestapo, has been separating children from their parents and then processing them as orphans, ripping vulnerable refugee families apart as soon as they arrive in the United States, a country once seen as a welcoming beacon of hope.

(Update: As noted, this new policy isn’t responsible for the fuck-up. It’ll only make it worse.)

Via Washington Post:

“The type of devastation that we’re talking about … where a separated mother doesn’t know where her child is for four days, that’s entirely common right now in this administration,” Laura St. John, the legal director of The Florence Project, told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. “Children and parents who are separated sometimes don’t have any way to communicate with each other for days, for weeks — I’ve seen months where a parent had no idea where their child was after the U.S. government took their child away.”

St. John noted her group also was seeing increasingly younger children being taken into custody by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, as opposed to the migrant teenagers who had previously crossed the border themselves.

“Just last week we saw a 53-week-old infant in court without a parent,” St. John told Hayes. “What we’re seeing now is that, because the government is separating the children from the parents, the government is actually rendering these children as unaccompanied minors and bringing them to the shelters.”

Sadly, this is a problem that has bipartisan roots. The Obama administration, faced with a skyrocketing number of refugees, relaxed the foster parent standards, thus placing some children into very dangerous situations. As much as Obama did for immigrant children — DACA should a prime achievement — his administration also failed in a number of ways.

So, where do we go from here? While the Trump Administration controls ICE and Homeland Security, Congress can and should have oversight of the executive branch. Unfortunately, the GOP has surrendered all pretense of checking the power of the Trump cabal, so we have to work to kick them out in November. Let’s focus on a few prime committees and candidates, starting with the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.

Rep. Ken Buck, the awful far-right vice chair of the committee, is in line to succeed the retiring Raul Labrador, who just so happened to lose his primary election for Idaho governor earlier this month. Buck represents Colorado’s fourth district, and he has an excellent opponent in Karen McCormick, who we’ve already endorsed here at Progressives Everywhere as part of our focus on ousting NRA-backed politicians. Yep, Buck is also an NRA puppet, which goes to show just how awful he is. McCormick is a compassionate veterinarian and community leader who has already called for an investigation into the missing children — something Buck will never do in any serious way.

Click HERE to donate to our slate of candidates focused on immigration issues

Look at what Buck said about separating children from their parents:

I think it’s unfortunate when families are separated. But it’s also unfortunate when families make a decision to break the law [by coming here.] And there are consequences in this country. We are a country of rule – a country of laws. And we believe in the rule of law. And I think it’s just a sad reality that there is going to be some unfortunate separation of individuals when crimes are committed.

Steve King may be the most racist and noxious lawmaker in the House — or, at the very least, the most vocal about his malicious neanderthal beliefs. He’s long coasted to victory in Iowa’s rural fourth district, but he’s got some serious potential opponents this time around. The primary election is on June 5th, but there’s one challenger that really stands out.

J.D. Scholten has been out-raising King for the past several FEC cycles, even as he espouses a full-throated progressivism that we’ve long been told doesn’t play in rural midwestern districts. He was featured in The Intercept earlier this year slamming King’s immigration policy, and would represent as drastic a change as is possible in modern America.

Then there is Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security Committee. He’s a border wall supporter, is in favor of sending the National Guard to police the crossing, and supports prosecuting parents — and thus stripping their kids away from them. Running against him is Mike Siegel, an assistant city attorney from Austin who offers an entirely new perspective on just about every single issue. His stance on immigration is no exception.

The other awful border story involves a local version of ICE, the Texas Department of Public Safety. Over the past few years, it has been turned into a militarized terror agency, haunting majority Latino towns and making life hell for everyone there. They police every corner of every street — both through on-the-ground officers and endless cameras — and make it so that people are literally afraid to drive to work. They can’t even go to Little League baseball games without being harassed.
The DPS buildup began as a way for then-Governor Rick Perry to look tough on the border ahead of a run for re-election. It’s now become a permanent police state.

From the Texas Observer:

“Hidalgo and Starr counties are now among the most profiled and surveilled communities in America, with residents forced to adjust to life under the persistent watch of aerostat surveillance balloons, observation towers, National Guard listening posts, drones, DPS surveillance cameras, DPS spy planes and a barrage of intrusive police stops.”
And this isn’t just impacting the people in those counties. It’s hurting all Texans. Again, from the Observer:

“Lawmakers slashed Medicaid funding by $2 billion and declined to fully fund the state’s child-welfare system, which has been in crisis for years. In the decade since the surge began, the state’s portion of funding for public education has dropped from 48 to 38 percent. But the Republican majority gave DPS another $800 million for border security.”

The obvious move is to take on the lawmakers enabling this horrible state of affairs. But it’s not so simple.
Rep. Phil King, who chairs the committee, has enabled bigotry and mass harassment for years (and is also an anti-choice, corporate ALEC and NRA stooge who doesn’t even want laws that require people to lock up their guns, even in the wake of the Santa Fe high school massacre). Once again, Rep. Phil King is running unopposed for re-election.

Also running unopposed for re-election is DeWayne Burns, a Republican on the committee who is equally as grating and noxious. We need to do better, and that starts by showing candidates that they will have support even in tough races.

Here’s where we start: Several Republicans do have challengers, however long their odds may seem based on their districts and fundraising disparities. A little money can go a long way in local races, especially in more rural markets, and even a somewhat tight race can push an extremist candidate towards more moderate positions.

Click HERE to donate to our slate of candidates focused on immigration issues

GOP Rep. Justin Holland is being challenged by Democrat Laura Gunn in HD 33, while Republican Rep. Will Metcalf faces off against Democrat Mike Midler in HD 16. Midler has a particularly interesting resume; a Marine who served in Vietnam, he spent his career as a history teacher, with a stop at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and his campaign literature cites the progressive visions of our Founding Fathers to rebuke the “Make America Great Again” crowd. You can donate at his… rudimentary campaign site.

Meanwhile, ultra-conservative Matt Schaeffer, who chairs the Texas Freedom Caucus, and brags about immigrant apprehension at the top of his campaign website, is being challenged by an unlikely leader in East Texas, a rabbi named Neal Katz. While he’s running as an independent as a nod to the politics of the region, Katz is a popular and progressive voice there, with support frombusinesses, community groups and even some church leaders. He’s not on ActBlue, since he’s an independent, so you can donate at his site.

Oh, and remember the Texas stooge who blamed doors for school shootings? Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is also an avid fan of destroying the lives of Latin communities, so once again, we’ll be supporting his opponent, Mike Collier, as a rational and pragmatic alternative.

Texas lawmakers’ response to the Santa Fe shooting ranges from insane to disgusting opportunism — so let’s beat them

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It happened. Again. This time in Texas, where eight students and two teachers were murdered by a lone gunman at Santa Fe High School. Thirteen others were injured by the shooter, a disturbed 17-year-old student who had a shotgun and a pistol. The massacre marked the 22nd school shooting of 2018, a spree of pointless and tragic murder that has become a sick routine.

A country has no greater responsibility than protecting and nurturing its children. In America, students are now going to school expecting the worst. In an interview seen around the world, a 17-year-old Santa Fe student named Paige Curry bluntly told a TV reporter that, because “it’s happening everywhere,” she just “kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here, too.”

Who can blame her? Especially in Texas. It’s an open carry state, which means people can openly possess guns just about anywhere. And instead of rethinking that barbaric law and working hard to protect children, Texas lawmakers are… blaming doors and pushing their own agendas.

Dig deep enough — or even just take a cursory glance — and you’ll find a plethora of insane lawmakers in Texas. They’ve become comfortable and complacent, unbothered in many places by more than cursory Democratic opposition, and so the Texas GOP has been able to slide to the extreme right on issues like guns. One of the most unhinged, dangerous Republicans in the state legislature is Jonathan Stickland, who represents district 92 in suburban Fort Worth.

He’s pushed for state constitutional amendments that would make carrying firearms an absolute right, which would, in turn, eliminate the state’s (already laughable) gun license requirements. He’s also a terrible person who has voted against employment discrimination laws and advocated for anti-trans bathroom bills, so rest assured we’re not targeting an otherwise productive and responsible government official. In fact, if you need any more evidence, check out this tweet that uses the Santa Fe tragedy to push his awful school voucher ideas.

Stickland’s opponent is a businessman and education advocate named Steve Riddell. Yes, another white guy, but one who wants to invest in alternative energy, create a more humane immigration system, and yes, focus on gun control measures. He’d be a far better (and more sane) member of the legislature, so he has our support.

Click HERE to donate to the Texas candidates and the rest of our slate of candidates via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page

In a quote heard round the country, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said that high schools have too many entrances, which he thinks allow shooters to bypass security guards at schools (as if armed security guards at schools isn’t dystopian enough). He wants to redesign 8000 campuses in Texas, making them slaughterhouses and horrible fire hazards, instead of taking action on guns.

He then doubled down on Sunday, blaming violent video games, abortion, and removing religion from school for the shootings. (Ignoring that those traits are what we have in common in with countries that DON’T have these tragedies on a daily basis).

If you check out his website, you’ll understand that this wasn’t just a bone-headed comment; he’s absolutely obsessed with the proliferation of personal weapons of mass destruction. He touts his “A” rating from the NRA and offers a long list of insane gun bills that he either authored or sponsored, including laws that eliminated the educational requirements to renew gun licenses. He also continually fought to allow the concealed carriage of guns on college campuses.

Patrick is insane — and up for re-election this year. His Democratic opponent is a moderate businessman named Mike Collier, who comes recommended by the Dallas Morning News and other outlets. We don’t normally actively financially support former Republicans, but he switched parties back in 2011, when the GOP was hijacked by the Tea Party and went to the far right, so give him credit for that. Plus, he supports public education, asking the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes (no small thing in Texas), labor unions (again, no small thing in Texas), and a living wage.

Most significantly for us at the moment, in a tweetstorm on Friday, Collier called for emergency action to prevent more mass shootings, including new sensible gun laws. In Texas, that’s enough to earn our endorsement, especially given his opponent.

Beto O’Rourke, the dynamic El Paso congressman running for Senate, was even more active on Twitter in the wake of the shooting. Unlike his cowardly opponent, Senator Ted Cruz, O’Rourke openly called for major reform, including stopping the sale of new assault-style weapons and the banning of high capacity magazines. This is incredibly bold coming from a candidate trying to get elected statewide in Texas, which makes us even more excited about his insurgent candidacy — and glad that we’ve been helping raise money for his campaign for months.

You’ll notice we haven’t touched on Governor Greg Abbott, who is also up for re-election this year. He’s a bad person who has terrible beliefs on gun laws. He just doesn’t have a definite Democratic opponent yet, as the two candidates — Lupe Valdez and Andrew White — will square off in a runoff election on Tuesday. We like Valdez’s positions on many issues, but figure with just two days before the election, it’s better to add the winner and not ask you to invest money in a candidate that may not be able to use it. Check ProgressivesEverywhere.org on Wednesday to see who won!

Click HERE to donate to the Texas candidates and the rest of our slate of candidates via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page

This Mother’s Day, help progressive women save America

Generally, we introduce new candidates each week at Progressives Everywhere. But because today is Mother’s Day, we wanted to step back and embrace the spirit of the holiday by recognizing the incredible work and sacrifices of the women that we’ve already endorsed.

Women are rising up and running for office in record numbers, inspired by the Trump Administration’s attacks on women’s rights specifically, as well as its gross assaults on the human rights that women have led the fight for over the last century, like education, affordable healthcare, and the right to vote. If we are going to take back America this fall, it will be thanks to the women who are sacrificing so much to run for office. Many of our candidates are mothers, while others act as important mother figures as teachers and other public servants.

You can find biographical information about our entire list of candidates on Progressives Everywhere, and donate to them on our various ActBlue pages, each of which offer the ability to give to one or more particular candidates.

You can choose from women on our main slate; women fighting against the NRA; women running against religious right wing extremists; women teachers running to help fix public schools; and women running for office in New York State to help end decades of corruption.

Any donation helps. Some of these races are very local and so any money makes an outsized difference. The bigger races will see the GOP candidates benefit from huge corporate donors, so grassroots money is crucial. Donate on behalf of a mother or woman in your life. Donate in the memory of someone who helped raise you or teach you. Donate because mothers know best, and that’s why we need them in office.

 

As Kentucky Republicans assault public schools, teachers and education advocates fight back

Even in an era filled with mass protests and daily political outrage, this spring’s rolling teacher strikes are particularly noteworthy. Tax breaks for millionaires and oil companies have left many schools in various states of disrepair, and an entire generation of students have been forced to learn from emergency substitute teachers lecturing on ancient textbooks held together by duct tape.

Exhausted by a decade of cuts to education funding and energized by vast public support for their cause even in reliably red states, teachers across the country have hit the picket lines and filled up capitol buildings to demand increases to school budgets and long-overdue raises.

Striking teachers in Arizona, Oklahoma, and West Virginia have won impressive concessions from GOP-dominated legislatures, but the job is not complete. Outspoken teachers have vowed to continue fighting for their students — not only by appealing to lawmakers, but increasingly, running to displace them.

We’ve highlighted a number of those teachers here at Progressives Everywhere, and now we’re expanding the focus to include parents and school activists are running for local office. First up is Gay Adelmann, who is running to represent Kentucky’s 36th district in the state senate. Kentucky has also seen massive teacher strikes, but faces a defiant governor who just signed a bill that hurts teachers’ pensions, no doubt a provocation.

Click HERE to donate to Gay Adelmann and the rest of our slate of candidates via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page

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Adelmann has been involved in the battle to save the state’s public schools for several years now, her activism inspired by the cycle of neglect and abuse of her son’s Louisville high school. She is vehemently opposed to the GOP’s plan to allow privately run, publicly financed charter schools across Kentucky, because they will drain resources from already strained schools and enrich private donors, and through her founding of several parent/teacher organizations, she has lobbied hard against it for the past several years.

The candidate has come a long way in a short amount of time. Adelmann’s involvement began by starting a website for her son’s underfunded high school; now, she’s campaigning across Louisville to convince voters to stand up to millionaire donors who want to wrest control of public schools away from communities and siphon money to privately run charter schools.

How’d you decide to run for office? 

My senator [Julie Raque Adams] voted for charter schools in 2017 despite my group’s efforts. The Koch brothers are paying the charter school lobby and have a privatization agenda, to take money out of our public schools and put it in their pockets. And we tried to draw the picture for her and help her understand the harm that was being done in other states.

She pretended to get it and even told me to my face that she was going to vote against it — or at least ask really hard questions and if they couldn’t answer them, vote against it. And then she ended up asking a really soft question and then voted for it anyway.

We made a list of everyone who voted for the charter school bill and a targeted and recruited people to run across the state. We have 30 educators all over the state that are running. And then so I went back to the list and there was one more senator sitting there with nobody against her. And I said, I guess I know what I need to do.

So let’s take a step back even further — what got you involved in education policy to begin with?

I got involved because my background is marketing and when we moved to our district, my son’s school didn’t have a website, didn’t have a PTA. I built them a website and I started a weekly email blast out to parents and supporters.

There’s also something in Jefferson County called Showcase of Schools every year, so we made sure we had a really nice display showcase of school. That’s important because the school is in the west end, which is the high poverty part of town.

Who creates these policies, and how do you change it?

It’s insane, the logic that’s applied by people who actually haven’t set foot in public schools in 30 years. So we started trying to really help them understand what was going on. I saw that a lot of what was happening at the district level. We formed an organization called Save Our Schools Kentucky. The legislature couldn’t get the charter school bill passed until the very last day of session in 2017. So that was good. We slowed it down quite a bit and we made it less bad than it would have been, which is not great, but it’s still better than before.

So they got the charter school language in, but there was no funding mechanism. On the last day of session they passed House Bill 520, which was the language that allowed for charter schools to exist. And then they ran over to an Appropriations Committee meeting and stuck in some funding for it. It was only a makeshift funding bill. We still don’t have charter schools here because we haven’t even gotten to the point where they can open for business. The first applications are now being accepted, but we don’t have funding for it this year either.

So where is the fight now?

During the legislative session in 2018, when they were hoping to get permanent funding, we actually stopped it. We had people protesting for every day of the session, holding signs and greeting legislators as they came, to make sure they felt the pressure. And so we were able to stop the funding mechanism for charter schools. There were a number of other bills that made public schools less competitive, and we stopped those as well.

Then Governor Matt Bevin announced that there was going to be a special meeting to discuss the firing of the education commissioner. And they did it, they fired our commissioner and replaced members on the statewide board with pro-charter people. So now our K-to-12 has no one on it that understands public education. It’s an entire board made up of people who are pro-charter schools. And now he’s announced that they want to take over our democratically elected school board in Jefferson County, the state’s largest district.

People have been protesting hard, and filling the capitol, but this is still a Republican-leaning state. What are your chances?

This isn’t and shouldn’t be a partisan issue. There were a number of Republicans that voted for public schools last year. We need to get people who truly understand public education in as many seats as possible. And there were some good Republicans running in those rural districts. It’s not likely to get a Democrat in those districts, so if you can get the pro-public education Republican in the seat, then that’s great.

There are a lot of rural parts of the state, with mostly white people, so every time we talk about racial divides, people don’t want to do it. People actually consider you to be divisive by bringing in a race. And I’m like, no, you have to be inclusive in bringing up race. And so what plays well in the urban district is different than what plays well in rural districts. But for the most part I think we’re very united.

Click HERE to donate to Gay Adelmann and the rest of our slate of candidates via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page

New York votes for Democrats, so it should be governed by Democrats

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By now, you’ve likely heard that Dr. Hiral Tipirneni fell short last week in her underdog quest to win the special congressional election in Arizona’s 8th district. But that only tells a small part of the story. In a dark red district that Trump won by 21 points in 2016, Tipirneni lost by less than 6%, evidence of grassroots progressive energy that could sweep Democrats to power this November — if we work our asses off to help make it happen.

Progressives Everywhere raised over $6000 for Tipirneni’s campaign, which helped deliver a message to political pundits and Republicans. Another one of our candidates, Ohio legislature hopeful Zach Dickerson, outraised all of his GOP opponents in the first quarter. He raised $20,800, while the GOP incumbent — remember, the guy who wanted to let kids carry guns at school? — brought in only $18,200, including $12,500 from special interest PACs. Zach emailed me to thank Progressives Everywhere, so I’m writing to thank all of you.

Click HERE to donate to our slate of candidates via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page

So, what’s next? We’ve focused a lot on flipping seats in red states, and that’s still absolutely crucial. But corruption is not limited to states run by Republicans. Here in New York, what is ostensibly a deep blue state has been hijacked by Republicans and corrupt Democrats. Team Blue won control of the State Senate in 2012, but the chamber has been instead run by Republicans and a group of eight cynical breakaway Democrats who operate as the “Independent Democratic Conference.”

Republicans and the IDC have together been a major roadblock for progressive policy initiatives, blocking popular ideas like universal healthcare, criminal justice reform, extending voting rights, and protections for women, minorities and LGBTQ New Yorkers. That partnership was tacitly endorsed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, a machine politician who values power over progressive priorities. This has been harmful not only to New Yorkers but also to the rest of the nation, as progressive policies are much more likely to be implemented nationwide if they succeed in a major state.

After half a decade of thwarted democracy, progressives, led by the Working Families Party, decided that enough was enough. They announced a slate of primary challengers for the IDC eight, and then Cynthia Nixon announced that she was mounting a primary campaign against Cuomo, running on her years of experience fighting for public education, LGBTQ rights, and other progressive causes. Yes, she’s an actress, but she’s also a serious candidate, well-read on the issues and passionate about her priorities.

Lo and behold, right after receiving challengers from the left, Cuomo and the breakaway turncoat state senators suddenly decided to act like progressives, announcing the dissolution of the IDC and the implementation of a few long-overdue voting rights reform measures.  

Click HERE to donate to New York progressive primary challengers via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page for New York State!

But their scramble to satisfice progressive priorities and mollify angry Democrats is not enough. Cuomo has gone to work to splinter the Working Families Party, pressuring union officials to endorse him. His promises are generally empty; Cuomo has promised to govern as a progressive before, only to turn his back on our most important policy proposals.

He won’t be able to pull that for long — if he even remains in office. Last week, Democrats flipped a Republican seat in the State Senate, moving one seat away from outright control of the chamber. Three more major Republicans are retiring from Albany’s upper chamber. Nixon’s campaign continues to build momentum, and the primary challengers are still working to unseat the former IDC representatives.

With that in mind, Progressives Everywhere is working to raise money for Nixon, several of the progressive primary challengers, and the declared Democrat running for the State Senate in one of the three newly opened seats.

Click HERE to donate to New York progressive primary challengers via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page for New York State