Watching presidential candidates spar onstage in their last debate, I shared some of Senator Cory Booker’s frustration. Booker lost his cool when former Vice President Joe Biden tried to paint himself as a criminal justice reformer. “The house was set on fire,” said Booker, reminding Biden that the “tough on crime” policies he backed as a Senator from Delaware put thousands behind bars. “You can’t just now come out with a plan to put out that fire.” As the 2020 presidential campaign builds, People’s Action and its member organizations are excited to see an unprecedented number of women and people of color take center stage as candidates, along with issues like Medicare For All, Free College and 100 Percent Just Energy For All. But the sheer number of candidates, and the infighting between them, can be daunting. So let’s take a step back and ask a few fundamental questions from the perspective of movement activists. The first of these is: What did you do and say before you ran for president? The leftward shift on the presidential debate stage demonstrates how far the needle has moved on the promises at the heart of the Democratic Party. But when it comes to promises, we know all too well how few are kept once candidates take office. So, candidates, over the course of your careers, have you taken buckets of money from big pharma, then voted repeatedly on their behalf? If so, forgive me if I don’t believe you when you now cry loudly about the high price of prescription drugs. This must always be the first question we ask.
David Hatch is a longtime community organizer in Chicago, where he was executive director of Reclaim Chicago and founder of The People’s Lobby, part of the People’s Action national network of grassroots groups.
Families Devastated By ICE Raids
‘They’re going to lose everything’: Families are devastated after Mississippi ICE raids. USA Today: “As Thursday morning dawned hot and bright, Desiree Hughes soldiered through the 24th hour of her wait in a parking lot of a chicken processing plant here. Two of her friends had been seized by immigration officials during a raid the day before, in an operation that resulted in about 680 arrests from seven different food processing plants across Mississippi. It was the largest workplace sting in at least a decade. ‘(I’m) hurt. Heartbroken,’ Hughes said before taking a deep breath. ‘I just want our families to come home. Because without their mamas and papas, how are they going to take care of their babies? How are they going to get to school? How are they going to pay their bills? They’re going to lose everything.’ Hughes, who is a legal resident, was told to leave. She wasn’t given a chance to speak with her friends before they were carted away in a bus. Hughes’ first concern: Her friends’ young daughter and little brother. She made sure they had food, water, clothes and that they were in a safe location. The brother, a naturally anxious kid, was panicking, she said. The little girl was too young to understand what was going on. Then, she went back to Koch Foods. She and others whose loved ones were swept up in the raids gathered in nearby parking lots on Wednesday, hoping that buses would bring them back. The crowd swelled to hundreds of people overnight, she said. They stayed for hours, anxiously and tearfully waiting to be reunited with family and friends.”
ICE Raids Expose Appetite For Cheap Labor
Mississippi ICE raids expose the biggest problem with US immigration laws. Vox: “A Mississippi community is reeling from the aftermath of one of the largest worksite immigration raids in history. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers swept through seven chicken processing plants in the rural region of Morton Wednesday, arresting 680 suspected unauthorized workers. Dozens of children arrived home from school to find their parents gone. ICE says the operation was about enforcing US immigration laws that make it illegal for immigrants to work in the US without authorization. While it’s true that ICE officers with a warrant have the authority to raid workplaces, Wednesday’s operation sheds new light on the cruelty of the US immigration system. But even more so, it also reveals a fundamental flaw in US immigration policy. American immigration laws do practically nothing to address the main cause of illegal immigration: super high demand for low-skill work, and not enough workers available to fill those jobs. There’s practically no way for a low-skilled worker from Guatemala to ‘wait in line’ for a visa to take a job at a chicken processing plant in Mississippi. Only one such visa exists — the EB-3 visa — but it’s limited to a tiny number of people (5,000 max). Yet the US economy needs hundreds of thousands of workers to fill these jobs right now. The US is experiencing a serious labor shortage, and it’s harder for businesses to find low-skilled workers these days than high-skilled workers.”
Jackson Mayor Calls For Sanctuary
Jackson mayor slams ICE raids, asks churches to become safe havens. USA Today: “The mayor of Jackson is calling on churches in the city to provide safe havens for the immigrant community in light of federal raids on several Mississippi processing plants. Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba in a statement called the U.S. immigration raids Wednesday ‘dehumanizing and ineffective.’ The mayor then called on ‘faith institutions’ in the community to become sanctuaries for ‘our immigrant neighbors.’ In his statement, Lumumba said the raids ‘will only further alienate communities from law enforcement.'”
Immigrants Lock Doors, Protect Children
Immigrants lock doors, rally around children of detained. AP: “Mississippi residents rallied around terrified children left with no parents and migrants locked themselves in their homes for fear of being arrested Thursday, a day after the United States’ largest immigration raid in a decade. A total of 680 people were arrested in Wednesday’s raids, but more than 300 had been released by Thursday morning with notices to appear before immigration judges, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox. “The children are scared,” said Ronaldo Tomas, who identified himself as a worker at another Koch Foods plant in town that wasn’t raided. Tomas, speaking in Spanish, said he has a cousin with two children who was detained in one of the raids. Gabriela Rosales, a six-year resident of Morton who knows some of those detained, said she understands that ‘there’s a process and a law” for those living in the country illegally. ‘But the thing that they (ICE) did is devastating,” she said. ‘It was very devastating to see all those kids crying, having seen their parents for the last time.'”
Remembering Michael Brown
5 years after Michael Brown shooting, slow signs of progress. NPR: “Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo., sparked a national civil rights movement around how police and government treat black residents. Yet, even as the political momentum around police accountability picked up in other places, some candidates and policies that emanated from the movement stalled around St. Louis and Missouri. But there’s a big shift over the past year in St. Louis County, the place where a Ferguson police officer shot and killed Brown five years ago. A multiracial coalition banded together to elect Wesley Bell as St. Louis County’s first African-American prosecutor. He ousted Bob McCulloch, who was in office when a grand jury declined to bring charges against the police officer that shot Brown. ‘The criminal justice system is predicated on trust. And people feeling that they have a voice and that voice is being heard,’ Bell said. ‘And what we saw in Ferguson was a symptom of a much larger problem that people didn’t feel that the system, the justice system, actually worked for them. And just to be clear on that because I’ve knocked on doors all over this county.'”
Summer Storms Loom, Trump Golfs
Trump heads for golf club holiday – but summer storms loom. AP: “Now is the summer (vacation) of the president’s discontent. As Donald Trump prepares to leave Friday for his annual August holiday at his lush New Jersey golf club, he’s confronting a storm of crises, at home and abroad, that could set the course for his upcoming re-election bid. With his poll numbers stalled and his ability to rally the country questioned, he’s being tested by an escalating trade war with China that may slow the economy, rising tensions with both Iran and North Korea and, in the aftermath of the latest mass shootings, pressure to act on guns and face accusations of his own role in fostering an environment of hate. The dark clouds are converging as the president’s bid for a second term takes on new urgency. Trump exudes confidence but as the two dozen Democrats eager to take his job sharpen their attacks, the White House — or, for the next 10 days, the clubhouse in Bedminster, New Jersey — will have to mount a multifront effort rooted in maintaining his base rather than trying to expand it.”