We Make an Impact: April 2020 Edition

Want proof that speaking up makes a difference?

The monthly AoCC Impact Message features stories of the gains we make by speaking up, specifically on the actions featured in the Americans of Conscience Checklist, plus tallies of the actions we take together and other signs of progress. This is our public service to keep you engaged and hopeful. Enjoy!

Impact 1: Coronavirus stimulus

So far, Congress passed and the President has signed four different bills to address the health and financial impact of COVID-19. Here is the progress of Checklist priorities in these bills:

Phase 1HR 6074, was narrowly focused on medical issues: vaccine development, medical supplies, and public health funding.

Phase 2HR 6201, began to address the economic impact. Among a variety of other provisions, it provided additional funding for food assistance, including allowing states to request waivers of time limits related to emergency food assistance. It also funded detection and diagnosis of COVID-19 for uninsured people and people served by the Indian Health Service.

Phase 3HR 748, was the largest economic stimulus bill in US history, offering a variety of loans, tax credits, and direct payments to both corporations and individuals. Of particular interest to Checklist readers, it provides funding for nutritional support for elderly people whose access to food is affected by social distancing, and provides funding for community health centers, the Indian Health Service, and other medical providers. Unfortunately, since Phase 2 and 3 were passed, the virus has exposed longstanding weaknesses in the infrastructure of tribal lands. Phase 3 also allows universities to suspend work-study requirements and provide direct cash grants for students whose incomes are affected by the virus.

Phase 4HR 266, adds additional funding for the small business “Paycheck Protection” loans created in Phase 3, including money set aside for rural, minority-owned, and other businesses that do not have existing banking relationships.

Up next: Negotiations are already underway for a fifth bill, which would include relief for states that have seen their own revenue streams drop precipitously in the wake of COVID-19 mitigation measures, even as costs for first responders, public health, and other state responsibilities have soared.

Seeing Congress work together (however imperfectly) reminds us that no matter what party your congressional representatives are, communicating your needs to them is how our democracy works. Thank you for speaking up!

Impact 2: Progress reducing the spread of COVID-19 in prisons and detention centers

Basic respect for the dignity of incarcerated people and people in immigration detention has been a Checklist priority from the beginning, but the emergence of COVID-19 has made it a public health priority as well. Several recent Checklists have asked you to advocate for strategies to reduce the number of people detained, and improved hygiene facilities for those who are not released. Together with leading advocates, our voices are being heard.

This week, a federal court ordered ICE to consider releasing all detainees at risk for COVID-19 complications, regardless of their immigration status. We were heartened by the thoughtful interview with the former ICE director advocating for the release of people in ICE detention during the pandemic. At present, nearly 700 people have been released to their families (of the roughly 37,000 people in ICE detention).

Nearly half of all states and many counties and cities have taken steps to reduce their jail populations—from early release for people nearing the end of their sentences to citation-and-release processes for people committing less serious crimes.

These suggestions are still being applied inconsistently across the nation which endangers lives. If you’re concerned that confined spaces put incarcerated people and corrections staff at risk, use the actions 7, 10, 12, and 13 from April 19, 2020 AoC Checklist.

Impact 2: A short-term ramp-down of ICE aggression

Over the past three years we have had many calls to action with regards to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s poor treatment of asylum seekers and the inhumane conditions of the ICE facilities.

On March 18, 2020, ICE changed its focus from immigration enforcement to promoting life-saving and public safety activities. Their aim is to limit the spread of COVID-19 and encourage those who need treatment to seek medical help. Their new focus will be on people who pose a threat to public safety. After several years of aggressive and manipulative and inhumane tactics, this is a small but welcome reprieve.

We will continue to advocate for alternatives to incarceration as immigration policy. We will continue to support welcoming people to our nation, especially those seeking asylum and refuge, and a clear, efficient path to citizenship.

Impact 3: Dignity for farm employees as essential workers

Over the years, we have included many calls to action advocating for the rights of farm workers—with and without documentation—because of their vast skills and contributions to our communities. We have joined our voices with immigration rights groups’ calling for fair wages and legal protection, regulations to protect workers against unsafe conditions, and providing affordable housing. In addition, we have asked for support of initiatives that would provide a path to citizenship for these critical workers.

On March 28, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identified farm workers as essential to secure critical infrastructure. That this is finally being acknowledged by the federal government is a small but important move in the right direction. Many workers have received “essential work” letters that prevent them from being found in violation of stay-at-home orders. In conjunction with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “delaying enforcement operations” on non-violent people, there’s a little less emotional strain on our hard-working residents.

We applaud recognition of people essential to our nation’s food supply, and will continue to support decency and efforts for a path to citizenship for these highly-skilled workers.

Action stats!

Did you take action from the Americans of Conscience Checklist in the last month? If so, we counted up your actions—along with all of our subscribers actions—and are happy to share the impact of our collective effort!

Actions taken for March 15, 2020 AoC Checklist: 1444

Action 1: Support your neighbors’ health and economic stability ー 154
Action 2: Advocate for equal access to eventual COVID-19 treatments ー 117
Action 3: Speak up for maternal health ー 82
Action 4: Hold Starbucks accountable for respectful treatment of all employees ー 59
Action 5: Support open access to public records ー 65
Action 6: Show solidarity with women seeking fair and humane treatment ー 26
Action 7: Support safe access to COVID-19 treatment for everyone ー 89
Action 8: Advocate for preventive health practices at the border ー 55
Action 9: Advocate against the unfair treatment of Asian Americans ー 62
Action 10: Count yourself in ー 235
Action 11: Donate to Trans Lifeline ー 23
Action 12: Support voting by mail as a public health measure ー 90
Action 13: Register and vote in your state’s 2020 presidential primary election ー 160
Gratitude 1: Thank Vanita Gupta for working with Facebook to remove inaccurate 2020 U.S. Census ads ー 48
Gratitude 2: Thank Rep. Katie Porter for getting CDC Director Robert Redfield say “YES” to making coronavirus testing free for anyone ー 73
Gratitude 3: Thank Kamala Harris for requesting the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons and private prison operators provide plan to keep incarcerated people safe from COVID-19 ー 52
Gratitude 4: Thank Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Rosa DeLauro for introducing emergency paid sick leave legislation ー 54

Actions taken for April 5, 2020 AoC Checklist: 1822

Action 1: Speak up for freedom from gun violence at home ー 232
Action 1: Support civil rights ー 220
Action 3: Speak up with Indigenous tribes for protection ー 195
Action 4: Advocate for prioritizing human health and safety ー 181
Action 5: Speak up with immigrant healthcare workers ー 95
Action 6: Support solutions to public health hazards in immigration system ー 109
Action 7: Advocate for a People’s Bailout ー 140
Action 8: Advocate for disaster-proof voting nationally ー 157
Action 9: Advocate for disaster-proof voting locally ー 77
Action 10: Prevent the U.S. Postal Service from shutting down ー 166
Action 11: Register and vote in your state’s 2020 presidential primary election ー 86
Gratitude 1: Thank Sir Tim Berners-Lee for calling for safe environment for women and girls on the internet ー 53
Gratitude 2: Thank Chef José Andrés for addressing potential food crisis ー 49
Gratitude 3: Thank Timothy Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear ー 62

Our total actions — 3,266!

That’s 333 more actions than last month!

Did you know?

Americans of Conscience Checklist has a huge reach! We currently have

Your voice matters

If you’d like to use your voice and be counted, it’s not too late to complete the actions from our most recent checklist. And a new edition is coming out next Sunday.

In these uncertain times, please take good care of yourself and each other. Together we will create a kinder nation and a healthier democracy.

Jen Hofmann, AoCC creator and editor

P.S. Thanks to our Impact Team volunteers, Christine and Katherine for tracking our progress and making these monthly reports possible!