Americans of Conscience February 2020 – We Make an Impact! Posted on February 25, 2020 by Buffie We Make an Impact Progress updates on issues we’ve included in past Checklists. De-funding detention: As you are probably aware, prisons and detention centers are lucrative, but that profit comes at the expense of human rights and dignity. Our May 19, 2019 Checklist asked you to urge Bank of America and Sun Trust to join other lenders in cutting financial ties to private prisons. Today we can share that our actions, joined with Moms Rising and others, made a difference. Both Bank of America and Sun Trust have pledged to stop lending to private prison giants CoreCivic and Geo Group. In our July 28, 2019 Checklist, we amplified another effort by Moms Rising to urge PNC Bank and Barclays to do the same. PNC Bank announced that they will no longer finance private prisons who have profited from mass incarceration and immigrant detention. Additionally, Barclays will not refinance existing contracts and currently have no plans to enter any new financing arrangements with these companies. This is another example of how speaking up in support of the dignity of all of our neighbors can eventually lead to change. Funding for Indian Health Service: Our August 11, 2019 Checklist asked you to urge your House Representative to increase funding for the Indian Health Service when H.R. 3052 (Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2020). This bill was consolidated into H.R.1865 (Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020) and enacted and signed by the president on Dec 20, 2019. The Indian Health Service (IHS) was appropriated $6.04 billion, an increase of $242 million and a 4.2 percent increase over FY 2019. The great news is that the original request was for $137M and 2.3% increase, so this is even more than what was requested! The cogs of democracy turn slowly, so this is a reminder that even though it seems nothing happens as a result of your calls, it really can lead to important changes that support our neighbors. Stemming the tide of xenophobia: Several checklists—most recently February 2, 2020—have asked you to urge Congress to pass the No Ban Act, HR 2214, prohibiting religious discrimination in our immigration policies. We are happy to to learn that this bill was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee on February 12, and now goes to the full House for consideration. It will be work for this bill to pass, but it matters that you’re advocating for the Constitutional rights of all our nation’s residents whether your legislators are liberal or conservative. We’ll keep you posted on further developments. Preventing deaths at the border: In January 2018, humanitarian Dr. Scott Warren was among eight volunteers arrested by border patrol and faced 20 years in prison for providing travelers from Central America with food, water, and a place to sleep. After four of his peers were found guilty and faced fines and 6 months in jail, the situation was dire. Scott’s parents reached out to us (and many organizations) to support his case. Our May 19, 2019 Checklist asked you to urge the US Attorney General for Arizona to drop all charges. Fifteen senators did the same. You were among the 139,000 people who signed the No More Deaths petition and donated to support Scott’s legal fees. In June, the jury refused to convict. In November 2019, Dr. Warren was retried on two felony counts of “harboring undocumented immigrants” with a possible 10-year sentence. On November 20, the jury unanimously aquitted Scott of all charges. Then, just last month, a court overturned the convictions of his four peers on account of their sincere religious beliefs. This is how—together with thousands of others—we can create decency in these challenging times. Border patrol is still destroying water caches and trying to intimidate volunteers from fulfilling their faithful mission, so we will continue to support their cause into the future. Gratitude for gratitude When we write thank-yous, we often get thanks in return. Art Acevedo: Our Dec 15, 2019 Checklist asked you to thank Art Acevedo, Houston Police Chief, for using his platform to advocate for the needs and rights of people protected by the Violence Against Women Act and for sensible gun safety laws. One of our readers received a personal note from Art Acevedo, thanking them for reaching out. Your notes are read and make a difference! AdvenChair: In the Acts of Gratitude section of the December 15, 2019 Checklist, we invited you to thank Geoff Babb, AdvenChair inventor, for expanding access to the outdoors for people who use wheelchairs. We received a personal note from Yvonne and Geoff Babb telling us they have received your postcards and how much your support means to them: Dear Jen, Thanks to all of you, we here at the Advenchair team in Bend, Oregon have felt your love and support. We have received so many postcards offering support to individuals in wheelchairs. My husband, the lead Advenchairer in Chief is actively trying to demonstrate and prepare to launch the first set of chairs for his business….We are so grateful that we are on a journey of such love and support. We will wrap everyone’s love into each chair so that it spreads worldwide. Thank you, Yvonne and Geoff Babb, AdvenChair Actions stats! As you may be aware, we’ve added a new feature to the AoC Checklist: clickable check boxes! This gives us the ability to track the number of actions our subscribers take and the impact we have together as an international team of thoughtful, engaged Americans. For the first time, we’re announcing the number of actions you have taken for the February 2, 2020 AoC Checklist! Equality Action 1: Support the No BAN Act — 266 Equality Action 2: Support the Accessible Voting Act — 195 Equality Action 3: Request dismissal of trespass charges against Dkeama Alexis and Mia Santiago — 106 Equality Action 4: Oppose force feeding and support release of hunger strikers — 52 Equality Action 5: Comment on regulations.gov to oppose increase in citizenship fees — 150 Equality Action 6: Oppose extending federal private prison contracts in Texas — 152 Democracy Action 7: Register and vote in your state’s primary — 238 Democracy Action 8: Support the Honest Ads Act — 141 Democracy Action 9: Support online voter registration — 32 Gratitude: Sens. Bob Casey and Amy Klobuchar increasing voting accessibility — 31 Gratitude 2 — Thank 3 reps for calling to cancel an immigration DNA collection program — 19 Note: Gratitude numbers are lower because we added checks for these a little late. That’s 1,382 actions! 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. Your voice matters. Together we create a kinder nation and a healthier democracy.