Happy DACAversary!

Immigrants celebrate DACA’s 5th anniversary at Rep. Trott’s office in Troy

Protection for children could be preserved by passage of the HOPE, DREAM Acts.

Dozens of people came out to Rep. David Trott’s district office early Tuesday morning and braved the rain to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA, as it’s also called, is the executive program that protects undocumented immigrant youth from deportation. The birthday party was a small part of a larger national day of action marking the anniversary of DACA’s implementation. Since 2012, this program allowed those who arrived in America at a young age to come out of the shadows, get a work permit, have protection from deportations  and better contribute to their communities.

“When DACA came along, it blessed me with the right to get a work permit a driver’s license and most importantly, peace of mind,” said DACA recipient Juan Gonzalez. “I went from being a busboy in a restaurant to an underwriter in a financial institution.”

However, DACA now finds itself under attack by states who are trying to have the program revoked in the courts. If they succeed, DACA could be scuttled within a month, leaving the people it protected suddenly vulnerable. The Michigan United group is calling on Rep. Trott to support the HOPE and DREAM acts which would codify the program into law, easing the worries of both Republicans and Democrats who support DACA.

“All children have the right to hope. All children have the right to dream.” Said AJ Freer, Vice-President of UAW local 600. “I’m asking my representative, Dave Trott to stand with us. In light of recent domestic terrorism, we now face a crossroads where we have a huge opportunity to put human rights and civil rights first. These are bipartisan bills. I’m asking him to stand with us and hear us out.”

Freer was among the constituents who went to Rep. Trott’s district office to formally request a meeting to tell their stories and urge him to support the HOPE and DREAM Acts. “This is a tremendous opportunity. This is not a partisan issue.” Freer said. “This is a human rights issue.”

JOB POSTING: ​Detroit Movement Politics Fellowship

Deadline Extended: Candidates are encouraged to apply immediately. Applications are due by August 23, 2017

Michigan United is a statewide coalition of civil rights, labor, faith, business, and social service organizations working together for racial and economic justice through community organizing. We are currently focused on campaigns to:

  •  Promote just, fair, comprehensive immigration reform
  •  Dismantle mass incarceration
  •  Create a system of universal childhood and elder care
  •  End predatory lending
  •  Create affordable, dignified housing opportunities for all
  •  Halt climate change and transition to a just, green economy
Position Description

Movement Politics fellowships are full-time positions, with the possibility of part-time positions. The Movement Politics Fellowship is a 2.5 month long project. It is an organizing and leadership development program for emerging community leaders in Metro-Detroit.

Under the mentorship and supervision of Michigan United staff, Fellows will be tasked with working as a team to conduct extensive outreach into the community to register, educate and mobilize voters for the coming 2017 municipal elections in Detroit. Fellows will also identify potential supporters for Michigan United’s key campaigns.

The primary method Fellows will use to reach voters is door-to-door canvassing.

Fellows demonstrating an interest in organizing, may be asked to transition into part time organizer/part time canvass leads. These Organizing Fellows will will be their own team by recruiting and organizing leaders. Fellow’s leaders will assist in reaching their weekly goals.

Fellows will participate in an ongoing training program to learn how to motivate others toward action, to learn the history of and challenges facing the social justice movement, and to develop a systems-based analysis of the power structures at the local, state, and federal level.

The Movement Politics Fellowship is a recruitment and training program for rising organizers who are passionate leaders of all social justice movements; especially economic equity, immigrant rights, workers rights. Fellowship graduates will be connected with other professional development opportunities, job opportunities, academic support, and join a growing alumni network.

Requirements and Expectations:

Fellows must:

  •  Be effective working with a culturally, religiously, and economically diverse group of partners, members, and staff
  •  Be responsible, timely, and committed to professionalism
  •  Be an effective communicator who is comfortable working with the public, talking to strangers, and asking people to take action
  •  Be able to stand and walk for extended periods of time
  •  Be motivated to make change
  •  Language Proficiency: Some positions will require Spanish fluency.
Compensation and Directions to Apply:

This is a full-time salaried position and hours will fluctuate. Full-time fellows will receive compensation starting at $480 per week, with a stepped increase to $640 per week by the completion of the Fellowship, and gas allowances, as applicable. It is possible to award a monthly rate as a scholarship for current college students. Returning fellows’ salary will be commensurate with prior fellowship experience. Applicants should have some basic familiarity with social justice issues and a passion for social justice work.

Applicants should have basic understanding of field work and enthusiasm for leadership development.

Applicants should be prepared for a fast-paced work environment that requires a high-level of autonomy. Women, people of color, and LGBTQ persons are strongly encouraged to apply.

The current term for Fellows ends on November 10, 2017. Please send resume, cover letter, and 2-3 references to ken@miunited.org and bartosz@miunited.org.

Parents of premature & special needs children speak out against proposed healthcare bill

Repeal of ACA threatens those with pre-existing conditions, reliant on medicaid

Representative Debbie Dingell met with several children born prematurely or with special needs and their parents for a roundtable discussion of how proposed healthcare reform would affect them. Children with special needs like these will find themselves squarely in the crosshairs if the cuts to medicaid and removal of protections under the Affordable Care Act are signed into law.

“As a parent advocate and peer counselor for our hospital’s NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), I see moms and babies every day that rely on the financial and program resources available through our health care plans.” said Vickie Korsak of  the Michigan March of Dimes  “Lack of access and coverage is nothing less of devastating to the the lives and futures of our sickest and most fragile.  The debate over lifetime limits, the definition of pre-existing conditions and the funding of Medicaid strikes terror in every parent who has had a baby born premature, ill or with a genetic condition.”

The BatesRyan Bates, the director of Michigan United and the father of a child born 14 weeks early, said, “Congress is debating taking health care away from vulnerable children so that the most fortunate among us can have a tax cut. That’s just wrong. This is generous country where we take care of each other.”

The group was joined by David Sanchez and his son Benicio, who gets autism treatment through a Medicaid funded program, and a representative of the Michigan Nurses Association.

Michigan United launches Universal Family Care at Downriver women’s rights event

Michigan Women join thousands across the country to push new economic agenda for all women

Michigan United began to roll out it’s Universal Family Care campaign at the Riverview Public Library Monday night.  US Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI12) and State Representatives Darrin Camilleri, (D-23 Brownstown) and Cara Clemente (D-14 Lincoln Park) came out to show their support for the plan to help families care for their children, seniors, the disabled, and caregivers.

Terri Voepel-Lewis“A few years ago, mom was diagnosed with cancer and had to move in with me. So that I could keep working, we had to use mom’s savings to pay for in home care.” said Terri Voepel-Lewis, a downriver resident who provided end of life care for her mother. ”That quickly ran low, as the cost of in home care for 8 hrs a day cost thousands over her short illness. Mom died before we had to consider other sources of care. No one should have to worry about how to care for their parents at the end of life”.

Universal Family Care would be very helpful families like the Lewis’. The campaign seeks to provide Universal Home Care for Seniors and People with Disabilities, and would have allowed Terri’s mom to receive the resources from the state to afford the care her mom needed during her illness.

Additional components of Universal Family Care include: Universal Childcare, Support for stay-at-home Parents, Workforce Standards, (those include reimbursement rates to workers set high enough to provide a living wage), and Paid Family Leave. The program covers all types of care, to support families and people of all abilities to work and live well at every stage of life.

Universal Family Care is about being there for loved ones. Care needs to be centered on families that are allowed the ability to make good care choices. Without a program that helps provide clear information about affordable choices, Michigan families cannot get the care they need and want.

The Riverview event was part of the “We Won’t Wait’s” week of action that has spawned similar events across the country. Another event will be held Friday, July 7th at the Oloman Cafe at 10215 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck from 6 PM – 8 PM. Lending their voices to speak up for Michigan families and to join Michigan United as they Launch Universal Family Care in Hamtramck will be the Director of Community Engagement for Council Member At-Large for Janeé Ayers, Justin Johnson and State Representative Stephanie Chang (D-6  Detroit).

Arrest over improper parking raises questions of racial profiling in St. Clair Shores

Michigan United files FOIA request, health complaint

The arrest of a black woman who was waiting in the wrong place has raised questions of racial profiling by St. Clair Shores police department. Michigan United filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act to determine if people of color are more closely scrutinized, and subsequently arrested and fined, than white people. Amber York, a spokesperson for the multiracial, social justice organization said “In March 2015, the Department of Justice clearly established that the pattern of arrests and citations in Ferguson, Missouri was driven by revenue production–not public safety. We have good reason to believe that’s the same thing that’s happening here in St. Clair Shores, Michigan.”

19467768_1547670258596842_8196495075438082539_oEarlier this month, Rai Lanier was waiting for a carryout order and didn’t notice that she was in a handicap parking space next to the one for restaurant customers. Despite the car still being in gear, she was given a parking ticket instead of a warning. The officer then went a step further and also did a background check on Lanier, finding old ticket on a car she no longer owns then placing her under arrest.

“It was like a bad dream I couldn’t wake up from.” said Lanier on the steps of the police station. “One minute I’m waiting for my food, the next minute I’m being frisked and searched in front of a bunch of men. I was too stunned to even be angry at the time.”

Lanier said she was made to wait in conditions that were unsanitary. “Besides the toilet being in the middle of the jail cell and the toilet paper soaked, it looked like someone literally smeared feces on the wall.” said Lanier. “They didn’t just make me feel like a criminal for a parking ticket, they made me feel sub-human.”

Besides the FOIA request, Michigan United has also filed a complaint with the city of St. Clair Shores for the unsanitary condition of the city’s jail cells.

Several members of Michigan United showed their support at the Thursday press conference. “As a white woman, I have been let off many times, with only a verbal warning or friendly reminder, for things like an expired license plate or an overdue parking ticket,” said Laura de Palma. ”Our criminal justice system is racist, unjust, and unfair. I am speaking out against the explicit targeting and harassment by law enforcement of people of color.”

Lanier said she began to suspect that she was being treated differently because of her race when her boyfriend, who is white, showed up to bail her out. “The St. Clair Shores officer told me, in no uncertain terms that it would be over $500 for me to get out of their jail and another $1,800 to get out of Troy where the old ticket was.” Lanier said. “But once Seth showed up, Troy didn’t want me anymore and the bail was magically cut in half. I can’t help but think what it would have cost if my mother came to get me.”

Elder Leslie Mathews, 19250564_1547697478594120_8237719269015878904_othe faith coordinator for Michigan United who is working towards criminal justice reform, said “We have never truly been allowed to fully integrate into the American society. We can become doctors, lawyers, professional athletes, even the President of the United States, but as long as our skin is black or brown, we face intense scrutiny by law enforcement. Calling the police nowadays for help can get you killed. Having faulty car equipment can escalate into loss of life as well. Being parked in a handicapped space can get you arrested and thrown into jail. Just being black in America seems to be a crime.”

 

Arrest for parking raises questions of racial profiling in St. Clair Shores

Group to file formal FOIA request, health department complaint

Rai Lanier didn’t notice she was in a handicapped parking space as she waited in her car for a carry-out order. But rather than asking her to move, St. Clair Shores police not only gave her a ticket but ran a background check, finding an old ticket on a car she no longer owned. She was subsequently arrested and things just got worse from there.

Lanier will describe her experience in greater detail Thursday at a press conference held outside the St. Clair Shore police department. The organization she works for, Michigan United will deliver a formal Freedom of Information Act request asking for statistics regarding the racial makeup of police interaction and actions taken. They will also file a complaint with the Macomb County Health Department due to the deplorable conditions Lanier was subjected to during her unnecessary stay.

WHAT:
Press conference: Racial profiling, unnecessary escalation by SCSPD

WHO:
Rai Lanier, Ticketed, arrested, frisked and detained for parking violation
Elder Leslie Mathews, Criminal Justice Reform organizer, Michigan United

WHEN:
3 PM, Thursday, June 29, 2017

WHERE:
St. Clair Shores Police department
27665 Jefferson Ave, St Clair Shores, MI 48081

Capitol Day 2017 features grassroots protests around Lansing

Activists demand support for teachers,
clean air for residents of 48217

Senate Majority Leader, Arlan Mekhoff found his office filled with protesters opposed to his plan to take away teachers’ pensions in Michigan. Representatives of Michigan United say the move would not only deter good teachers from coming to the state but students would also suffer a shortage of professionals able to deal with childhood behavior issues and an increase in criminalization of it.

Bazsa Miller credits quality teachers for pushing him to succeed. “I came to a point in my life where I had to choose between success and failure “ said Miller. “My teachers were there to make sure I made the right choice at a time when I couldn’t see the path myself.”

“Teachers have an important influence over children of single family homes.” says Arthur Howard who graduated from 9th grade to juvenile detention to adult prison by the age of 16. They are not just educators,” said Howard. “They are character makers.”

When they left the Capitol building, the crowd of hundreds moved on to the nearby offices of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) where they held a rally outside accusing the watchdog of giving Marathon Petroleum permission to spew toxic pollution into their neighborhood near the refinery in Southwest Detroit.

Wendy Kyles grew up in the 48217 neighborhood, the most polluted in the state. She watched her mother suffer from a cirrhotic liver even though she never drank alcohol and ultimately die of lung cancer even though she never smoked cigarettes. “Countless MDEQ rubber stamp hearings merely let us know what atrocities are on the way.” Kyles was hopeful in 2010 when Marathon announced they would offer relief to their “neighbors”. But sadly her optimism was misplaced. “Imagine my OUTRAGE to learn that they were only buying out the handful of white people who comprised 48217. Our black subdivision, squarely situated in front of and downwind of their facility, was curiously and conveniently left out of that process. We weren’t considered their neighbors;”

Michigan United announces launch of Universal Family Care campaign at Capitol Day

Rep. Jon Hoadley presents Long Term Care Study bill to lay groundwork to support families

With new chapters springing up around the state, Michigan United and the Michigan People’s Campaign welcomed record numbers at their annual Capitol Day Event Tuesday in Lansing. The grassroots organizations scheduled dozens of meetings with state representatives and senators to discuss immigration, the environment and family care.

At a rally held at Central United Methodist Church, they announced plans to work with Caring Across Generations and other coalition partners, holding listening sessions over the summer to build out policy details this fall that will ensure the care of all Michigan family members and to help those who care for them. Benchmarks include:

  • Universal childcare up to age 4
  • Long term in home care for seniors
  • Protections for home care workers
  • A stipend for stay at home family caregivers
  • Paid family leave for workers who need time off to care for loved ones.

Many families are in the “sandwich generation:” providing care for young children at the same time they’re providing care for their parents. Sandwich generation families deal with two unaffordable systems, where the people who require care have significant and rapidly changing needs.

Michelle George, an advanced practice registered nurse is one such person. She has a 97 year old aunt with two broken hips. Although she has good health insurance, she won’t be eligible for a new wheelchair to help her get to much needed appointments. “Many families are stretched thin, have to cut back on work, or quit a job to care for aging family members.” said George. “We need better solutions, and the time is now for us to research and fight for them.

Rep. Jon Hoadley also announced that he would introduce his Long Term Care Study bill later that afternoon as the first step in this campaign.

May Day Rallies Held in 7 Michigan Cities, 200 Across Nation

Solidarity with immigrants, refugees and workers of all backgrounds

Justice advocates across the state made a great show of strength and solidarity for May Day 2017. Activists, immigrant and refugee families, labor movement leaders, faith leaders and people of widely diverse backgrounds turned out in the hundreds in seven cities throughout Michigan. Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Rochester Hills, Pontiac and Battle Creek were all sites of events that ranged from marchers to meals to uphold the American ideals of family unity, sanctuary for those seeking safety and support for workers. While these values are commonsense, they have been under attack by the Trump administration that’s inspired a big jump in hate crimes. Michigan families are pushing back.

Detroit’s #RiseUP May Day took place in Clark Park and the labor movement showed up in solidarity with immigrant families and workers.  

“SEIU members across the country are standing up for our families and our communities. I’m proud my union fights for healthcare, fair wages, and immigrant communities,” said Henrietta Ivey, home care worker and SEIU member.  “We are holding elected officials accountable — we won’t let the current administration take away the rights we’ve fought so hard for. We will continue to build a society that works for all working families.”

SAM_0703“It’s only when we stand together, native born with immigrant and refugee, people of every gender expression, color and faith that we can beat back bigotry,” said Adonis Flores of Michigan United. “As a gay Latino that has benefited from reforms of the Obama administration, I have gained strength from the constant show of resistance to the Trump administration’s racism.”

Grand Rapid’s Micah organized “A Day Without an Immigrant” that display the power of immigrant families by their stepping away from normal activities for the day.

Gema Lowe of the Micah Center stressed the supportive nature of the Grand Rapids area. “We’ve continually fought for the dignity and respect of every member of our community for years, and the policies that we’ve seen come down from this administration have only energized us. This movement will not stop demonstrating for the rights of the undocumented, the rights of our workers or the rights of any of our neighbors. Today demonstrates our resolve.”

MI Latinx Info Cluster organized Lansing’s May Day event in conjunction with the Movement for Black Lives and ACLU Lansing. It took place on the steps of the State Capitol Building fresh on the heels of Lansing taking the step to stand with immigrant families and declare itself a sanctuary city.

Ed Montemayor, the event’s organizer and Cofounder of MI Latinx Info Cluster, noted that the turnout for Lansing was heartening. “For over 100 days, the capital city has been dealing with the effects of Trump’s blundering, xenophobic policies. Seeing this many participants here on the heels of Lansing openly declaring itself a Sanctuary City gives us hope. We the people are indeed indivisible. Our coordinated actions of resistance will protect families at risk of the administration’s dangerous actions.”

Sergio Martinez, a Michigan United board member and speaker at the event, agreed. “We’re going to continue fighting the awful measures that have been such a burden to our communities, whether in the courts, in local government or in the streets. It’s the least we can do for our immigrant and Muslim neighbors.”

IMG_1178Kalamazoo’s “Day Without an Immigrant” activity held in Bronson Park focused on the needs of children and their families.

Christine Lewis of Michigan United specifically noted the event’s focus on Kalamazoo-area schools. “The ugly policies that we’ve seen from our federal government in the last 100 days specifically affect the children of this city, too. Today Kalamazoo demonstrated that we will stand up in defense of the most vulnerable of this city: children, the undocumented and the workers who make our neighborhoods run. This community is undivided, and we will not stand for this erosion of our rights and dignities.”

At least 250 events took place in more than 200 cities. Together, they called for an end to the Trump Administration’s ramped up deportations, an end to the Muslim ban, and no money for the border wall. Instead, organizers expressed support for an inclusive democracy.

New Christian, Muslim Coalition Launches with March

Coalition to focus on American traditions of diversity and religious freedom
Faith leaders and congregants from local Christian and Muslim communities took to the streets Sunday in a display of unity to uplift basic human dignity and counter recent attacks on refugees, Muslims and immigrants. “Neighbors Building Bridges” launched its campaign for interfaith and intercultural understanding with a march that began in Southwest Detroit at St. Gabriel’s Church, included the American Muslim Society in East Dearborn and ended at UAW Local 600.

Mario Hernandez hero“The Muslims of East Dearborn and the Christians of Southwest Detroit are neighbors who face many of the same challenges since the presidential election,” said Mario Hernandez, an immigrant parent fighting to stop his deportation. “But, working together with like-minded allies, we can strengthen our communities and work to overcome the racism and xenophobia that are ever present. We are people of faith who want to keep immigrant families like mine together and we see our adherence to faith as a way to combat bigotry and prejudice.”

The group, made of many people from different faiths and backgrounds, sees itself as being rooted in the great American traditions of diversity and religious freedom.

“When we look at the diversity of the people who make up our communities, we should be reminded that this nation was founded by immigrants many of whom were seeking the right to worship without persecution,” said Khalid Turaani, President of the American Muslim Leadership Council. “We are following the examples set in our respective faith traditions of welcoming the stranger and providing a place of refuge for those in need. It just so happens those are core American values as well. We want to be clear that refugees, immigrants and people of all faiths are welcome here.”
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Photo courtesy Chloe Michaels