All posts by MichiganUnited

Immigrants and native people support DACA at rally in Troy

Urge Rep. Trott to advance DREAM Act in congress to protect youth

Dozens of people, many in traditional dress, gathered outside the district office of Representative David Trott (R-MI 11) Monday morning to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day and to urge the congressman to help his constituents who will be at risk when the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program expires.

Tim Seneca (Photo courtesy Natalie Gallager)
Tim Seneca (Photo courtesy Natalie Gallager)

“We come together as family, friends, love ones. All are welcome.” said Tim Seneca, a native American of the Chippewa Potawatomi tribe. “Just as you have thanksgiving all the family comes over. No one is separated. Everyone should be welcome in this country.”

As currently written, the DREAM Act would extend Obama era protections from deportation for undocumented immigrants who were brought to America in their youth. Since House Speaker Paul Ryan is in no hurry to advance the issue, the group wants Rep. Trott to sign a discharge petition. The maneuver would bypass the Speaker and bring the bill  to the floor for debate and a vote.

Steve Spreitzer (Photo courtesy Natalie Gallager)
Steve Spreitzer (Photo courtesy Natalie Gallager)

“This is a small part of immigration reform but it has energy. It has promise.” said Steve Spreitzer of the Michigan Roundtable. “We have to move past the racialization of immigration. The comments made about Mexican people during the campaign can’t be dismissed. We have to stand against that and stand with our neighbors who are dreamers.”

 

 

22424629_1651005658263301_1596496440628575010_oOne of those neighbors, Maria Cervantes was brought here as a child by her grandmother. She has DACA protection now but says she’s afraid for what the future might bring. “You always live with the fear that you could be separated from your family. I’m here to support the DREAM Act because I want to live without fear and to have a better life.”

 

The rally concluded with everyone writing a note on a colored strips of paper explaining why the DREAM Act is important to them. The messages were strung together in a chain and carried to the office which was closed because of the national holiday. Together, Seneca and Cervantes passed it through the mail slot for Trott’s staff to find in the morning.

(Photo courtesy Natalie Gallager)(Photo courtesy Natalie Gallager)

If you stand with the dreamers, call your representative today and tell them to sign the discharge petition for the DREAM act. If you live in Michigan’s 11th district, you can reach Rep. Trott at 202-225-8171.

 

New documentary looks at factors leading to criminalization

Pathways to Prison producer, stakeholders name causes for mass incarceration, offer solutions

A one hour special that aired on Detroit Public Television was given a screening Thursday at the Church of the Messiah. Pathways to Prison focus on American prison system and efforts to reform it, both in stemming the flow of new inmates and aiding their reentry into the communities to which the formerly incarcerated return. Afterward, the audience heard from producer, Bill Kuboda and many of the returning residents interviewed in the program such as Yusef Shakur and Tyrone Kemp.

“We need to move past the mindset that prisons are only there to house the guilty.” Said Kemp who is now an advocate for the wrongfully convicted. “We must be open to the prospect that true redemption is possible.”

U.S. imprisons more people than any other country, but America’s “get tough on crime” era may be evolving, as more people realize the greater societal and economic costs. The state of Michigan currently spends nearly two billion dollars a year on their prison system.

But for Nicholas Buckingham, the Michigan United Criminal Justice organizer who moderated the discussion, this is about diverting the next generation from the well worn path that resulted in his incarceration. “Poverty is just one of the factors that many kids deal with that lead to prison, but it’s not the only one. We all have to recognize all the forces acting on them that make their futures less bright and a criminal record more certain.”

 

Representatives, Families, Health Care Providers Speak Out Against Trumpcare Effort

U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) today joined State Representatives, families and health care providers to highlight the devastating local impact of Republicans’ latest “Trumpcare” legislation, which the Senate GOP hopes to rush to a vote next week. Michigan stands to lose nearly $10 billion in federal health care funding by 2027 if the Graham-Cassidy bill is signed into law. According to a new report, premiums for those with pre-existing conditions could skyrocket by as much as tens of thousands of dollars.
 

“The American people have overwhelmingly rejected “Trumpcare”, and the newest Graham-Cassidy bill repackages the same damaging proposals and makes them even worse,” said Rep. Dingell. “The stories shared by families and health care providers today emphasize how much is at stake. Not only does this bill end Medicaid as we know it by cutting and capping the program, it also eliminates Healthy Michigan and completely eviscerates protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including autism, asthma and even pregnancy. This is unacceptable. We should be working together on productive, bipartisan action to stabilize the insurance marketplaces and extend affordable health care coverage to more families, not ramming through devastating proposals that take it away,”

“The effects of Graham-Cassidy would be devastating to our patients,” said Linda Atkins, chief executive officer of Western Wayne Family Health Centers. “Over 50% of our patients would become uninsured. That would cause them to begin using the ER for their healthcare, and those are things that we have been working so hard to turn around.”

“It’s because of days like today why it is so important,” said Alexis Wyatt of Brownstown, who was unable to attend the event because her 10-month-old son Alexander had to be rushed to the hospital. Alexander was born with severe illnesses that are still being diagnosed, and Alexis relies on Medicaid for Alexander’s doctor’s visits, emergency room visits, and other treatments. “Alexander is unpredictable. We have many ER visits, hospital admissions, medicines, and health supplies,” she said. “His month medical supplies are $400, and that’s just for his feeding supplies. Without Medicaid, I could not afford that so then how would he eat or get nutrition? Without his feeding tube or constant care, he would likely die.”

“The Graham-Cassidy bill is simply unacceptable when it comes to protecting the health and well-being of our patients, families and communities,” said Laura Appel, senior vice president and chief innovation officer, Michigan Health & Hospital Association. “Michigan hospitals cannot support legislation that will cost our state billions of dollars and eviscerate healthcare coverage and access to care on such a large scale.”

Kari Snyder of Wyandotte, whose mother’s accounting job was outsourced to another company just as she was undergoing a biopsy for breast cancer, said, “my mom didn’t quit or get fired. She just got outsourced. If we are going to give businesses the flexibility to do that, we need to protect their employees. The Graham-Cassidy bill doesn’t do that. If not for pre-existing coverage, my mom might not be alive today.”

Camilleri headshot“Downriver residents are rightfully concerned about recent healthcare proposals that threaten to cut essential benefits and return lifetime caps on insurance coverage,” said State Representative Darrin Camilleri. “I am committed to fighting for these protections at the state level, and today’s conversation is an important reminder of what’s at stake in the debate about health insurance and prescription drug prices in Lansing and Washington.”

“I have deep concerns about the latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, this will spell the end of Medicaid expansion in Michigan, meaning that about 650,000 of our most vulnerable residents —working families, children and seniors — will lose their health coverage,” said State Representative Erika Geiss. “Beyond that, leaving health care protections up to the states means that the popular and effective provisions of the ACA — such as coverage for pre-existing conditions and allowing young people to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, among many others — are at risk.”

Dingell was also joined by State Representative Cara Clemente and Farah Erzouki, public health coordinator at ACCESS, to discuss the impact of the Graham-Cassidy bill on the state of Michigan.

Analysts estimate that by 2027, 32 million Americans could lose their health coverage under the Graham-Cassidy bill. The legislation ends the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, which has extended health care to 695,000 Michiganders through the Healthy Michigan program; and ends premium tax credits, and cost-sharing reduction payments, all of which help millions of Americans afford health care. The legislation also permanently cuts and caps the Medicaid program—the largest health insurance program in the nation—which covers more than 74 million Americans, including more than 33 million children.

In Michigan:

  • 695,000 people have gained health coverage since the ACA was implemented.
  • Roughly 1.6 million people in Michigan have pre-existing health conditions, and could have their coverage rescinded if the ACA is repealed.
  • Michigan received $3.08 billion in federal Medicaid dollars to implement the Healthy Michigan plan. This revenue could be lost if the ACA is repealed.
  • A recent University of Michigan study found that Medicaid expansion in Michigan has boosted our economy and our budget and will continue to do so for the next five years. According to the study, the Healthy Michigan plan has generated more than 30,000 new jobs each year – one-third of them being in healthcare and 85 percent in the private sector. These jobs resulted in approximately $2.3 billion more in personal spending power for Michigan residents.

8 arrested in civil disobedience protesting end of DACA protections

Immigrant youth refuse to return to shadows, citizen allies reject white supremacy

Residents held a heartfelt and tearful rally in Kalamazoo’s Bronson Park Tuesday as immigrant youth of Movimiento Cosecha called for solidarity with the 11 million people who are undocumented in the country and described how President Trump’s decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) would impact their lives and families. Afterwards, they marched to Michigan avenue and Westnedge street where Eight citizen allies, who identify as white, were were arrested evening for blocking the intersection. The citizen allies used their white privilege in the act of civil disobedience to risk arrest in order to amplify the message of the risk that DACA & undocumented families make everyday to live in the United States.

Christine Lewis, co-Director of West Michigan Michigan United said, “For us as citizens who are white, we want to take up our responsibility to fight white supremacy; and that means taking risks,” Lewis said. “The point of the arrests was to show fellow white folks what it means to take action and invite people in.” It was one of many actions hosted across the state by Michigan United as they pushed for a legislative solution to the crisis Trump has created.

Nelly Fuentes of Moviemento Cosecha Kalamazoo and Pro-Kzoo said “This decision would be the height of cruelty: It’s an attempt to score political points by separating families and disrupting schools and workplaces across the country, it’s vile and the Kalamazoo community will not stand for blatant racist and cruel policy. We stand with all DACA recipients and the 11 million undocumented people living in this country.”

DACA Troy heroshot

Earlier at Rep. Dave Trott’s (R-MI 11) district office in Troy, Michigan, several DACA recipients spoke to a crowd of about a hundred gathered to urge the congressman to endorse legislation that would replace the popular program.  “DACA has done so much good for our immigrant youth and families and so many people want to see it continue, I don’t know why our President is listening to this tiny racist minority,” said Michigan United immigrant rights organizer and DACA recipient Adonis Flores. “Thank God for checks and balances! The American Hope or Dream act would be better solutions anyway.”

That afternoon, another hundred protesters gathered outside Western International High School as the first day of classes let out. Many of the college plans of seniors in this predominantly immigrant community could be put on hold if a replacement isn’t found when the protections it offers expire in six months.

Alondra Alvarez, a 17 year old student at the school has many friends in this situation. “I am unafraid and stand up for those who feel they don’t have a say. DACA is something that has helped so many of my peers and it hurts to know my loved ones will be affected by this.”

21369267_1617773558253178_4605358815655886730_n

State Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) also passionately described how DACA has helped young immigrants in Michigan. “Ending DACA without any guarantee of congressional action means these teachers, nurse, engineers students, first responders, members of the military are going to be ripped out of our communities and forced back into the shadows, facing at best an uncertain future and at worst potential deportation to a country they do not know.”

GR DACA heroshotBack across the state, Michigan United also took part in a vigil held in Grand Rapids at Rosa Parks Circle. The crowd of about 300 marched through the downtown until they reached Calder Plaza where they held a rally where several undocumented immigrants were able to speak. “DACA was the only thing we had.” said JP Palacios. “We had five years of progress and hope, only to see it revoked by politicians. It’s not only immoral, it goes against American values.”

Recent polling shows that most Americans support the Obama era executive action that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as minors. “DACA has done so much good for our immigrant youth and families. It has overwhelming support of both, Republicans and Democrats alike. So many people want to see it continue. Its unfortunate that this President is listening to a tiny racist minority, instead of the majority of Americans.” said Flores. “Thank God for checks and balances! The American Hope or Dream act would be better solutions anyway.”

Tell congress to protect DACA/TPS now!

CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS.

  1. CLICK HERE to find your US Representative
  2. Call the switchboard
  3. Ask you congresspeople to protect DACA & TPS.
Here’s a sample script to guide your conversation:
“Hi, my name is (Your name) and I’m calling from (Your city and state) and my zip code is ####. I am a person of faith. I’m deeply concerned about the reports that President Trump could end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and Temporary Protection Status (TPS) this week. I support these programs and strongly oppose any attempt to terminate or alter them. I urge the (Name of Senator/Representative) to do everything in his/her power to protect immigrant youth and families from deportation and support their right to work , live and study in this country. There are three things I’m hoping your office will do right now.”
  • “Can the Senator/Representative appeal directly to the President to keep this program in place, issue a public statement in support for DACA and TPS recipients, and support a clean passage of S.1615/H.R.3440, the HOPE and DREAM Acts of 2017?”
  • Oppose and vote against budget that funds deportations, private prisons and the border wall by making cuts to health care, education and the real needs of Americans.”
  • “Oppose and vote against the RAISE Act that will make it more difficult if not impossible for immigrant families to ever be reunited.”
“Thank you!”

Trump’s pardon of Arpaio an attack on civil rights of all Americans

While unprecedented in modern presidential history, the pardon of former Maricopa county sheriff, Joe Arpaio continues a trend in the Trump administration of threatening our civil rights. During a Presidential debate in Detroit, he said he was willing to violate the Geneva conventions against torture. Soon after his appointment, Attorney General, Jeff Sessions said the Department of Justice would not pursue civil rights cases against police departments. Then on Friday, as a level 4 hurricane bore down on our nation, President Trump took the opportunity to unleash a flood of bad decisions, among them, the pardon of Joe Arpaio. Since his conviction would not have even resulted in any prison time, this action would do little else besides appeal to the most racist and extremist in his base for political purposes.

We at Michigan United condemn in the strongest terms the decision to extend clemency to Arpaio because it sends a clear and dangerous message to all law enforcement officials that the Trump administration will not protect the civil rights of Americans and it will overrule any effort to uphold them. We are very concerned with the precedent this action will set and the impact it will have on our futures and in our communities. We believe everyone in America, regardless of race, religion or documentation status, should be equally alarmed.

Adonis Flores
Immigrant rights Coordinator, Michigan United

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.