Tag Archives: michigan

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.

 

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.”

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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.”

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.

Education advocates host first annual Kalamazoo schools year end celebration

Food, entertainment and an opportunity for “kids to be kids”

About 100 students and their parents were greeted by community leaders, volunteers and members of Social Economic & Educational (SEE) Change and Justyce Against Bullying in Schools (JABS) at the Kalamazoo Metropolitan Branch NAACP for their 1st Annual Expect Respect And Safe Education (ERASE) End of School Year Celebration. Participants took part in activities such as face painting, table crafts, hula hooping and  a water balloon challenge.

“As we continue to pursue equity and justice for our youth to ensure they are successful and Promise ready,” said Dr. Strick Strickland, Kalamazoo NAACP’s interim President, “we must strive as a community to celebrate the accomplishments of all of our youth completing a year of school. NAACP is proud to support SEE Change and stands in JABS corner as Sponsor of JABS Awareness Month”

“Every year, students in Kalamazoo Public Schools are denied their right to education because of ineffective and harmful school discipline policies.” said Elisheva T Johnson of Michigan United. “When they fail to recognize and address the trauma caused by unjust, biased, and broken social systems, our kids are effectively ‘pushed out’ of public education. That needs to end.”

Community member and environmentalist, Chris Wahmhoff also answered questions as many of the curious youth enjoyed time playing with baby ducks. “For Michigan, for us, I think Environmental Justice is one of the most important struggles we face” Wahmhoff said.

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.”
NBB 5
Photo courtesy Chloe Michaels

Doctors, patients speak out to protect the Affordable Care Act

Repeal threatens health care for more than million in Michigan

President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but what will this mean to the more than one million people in Michigan who benefit from the program known as “Obamacare”.  Doctors and patients alike are concerned with the impact of such a precipitous loss of coverage.

“The most important costs that we should consider are human.” said Dr. Anthony Spearman who practices internal medicine at Providence-St. John in Detroit. I am scared because the protections of people with pre-existing conditions could be eliminated, leaving millions of people who need it without insurance.” Rather than jeopardizing the health care program, Spearman believes politicians should take the successful model of the Affordable Care Act and work to address its issues and expand it.

Click here to hear and download audio from the tele-press conference

More than 393,000 people in the state of Michigan are currently enrolled in the individual government-run marketplace. Another 615,462 people are currently enrolled in the Healthy Michigan plan.

One of them is Herman Starks.  He says the uproar around the issue before the President has even been inaugurated is unprecedented but expects public resistance will be too. “I want to reach out to Trump voters. We have a lot to talk about. I’m sure we’ll all be having a robust conversations over the holidays.” said Starks. “We have common ground, and we have to start our fight from that common ground. We will fight tooth and nail, and with all our strength to save access to affordable health care. And we need everyone with us.”

Act now to protect the vote!

Tell Gov. Snyder to veto suppression laws

As we learned in grade school, our democracy works best when everyone has a voice. Somehow, many of our lawmakers never learned this lesson.

During their lame duck session, our state legislature has rushed through house bills 6066, 6067 & 6068, known to many as the Voter Suppression Legislation of 2016. Supposedly these bills would prevent in-person voting fraud, despite the fact that out of a billion votes cast  since the turn of the century, there have only been 31 cases of voter fraud NATIONWIDE. On the other hand, one study found that 11% of Americans don’t have identification that would allow them to vote under the proposed legislation. And those most at risk of disenfranchisement are the most vulnerable: the poor, seniors, new voters, people of color and people with disabilities.

If lawmakers really cared about voting, they would make it easier, not harder, by allowing automatic voter registration and early voting. If they were really concerned about restoring confidence in the system, they would replace outdated balloting technology. But instead, the outgoing session is trying to rig the system for partisan political gain.

Click here to tell Gov. Snyder to veto these bills

There’s still time to stop voter suppression. Governor Snyder can do the right thing and veto these anti-democratic bills. But this won’t happen without a powerful public outcry. CLICK HERE to sign the petition to stop these voter suppression bills.  When you do, you will send an email directly to the Governor that you can personalize to tell him why protecting the right to vote is so important to you.

And just like voting, petitions work best when everyone has a chance to voice their opinion. Please forward this email to all of your friends in Michigan. Time is short, but if just two of your friends forward it on to their friends, we can build the momentum needed to protect the right for everyone in the state to vote.

 Drive home the message with a phone call

Join our virtual phone bank on Facebook. Can you call once? Mark yourself as interested. Can you call three times? Mark yourself as attending. Are you awesome and want to call six or more times? Post on the page about how awesome you are.

CLICK HERE to RSVP and invite your friends on Facebook. Let’s keep up the pressure, keep the Governor’s phones ringing and his inbox filled until we know that everyone’s right to vote has been protected.

Nurses & Seniors Raise Alarm: Medicare Under Attack

Speaker Ryan Revealed Plan Last Week to Gut Life-Saving Program

The President of the Michigan Nurses Association joined with seniors and local faith leaders on Tuesday to raise the alarm about a new proposal to scrap Medicare.

President-Elect Trump campaigned on repealing Obamacare, but leaving Medicare and Social Security alone. But last week, Speaker Ryan unveiled a plan to privatize Medicare, ending the guaranteed health care program for seniors. President-Elect Trump has changed his position, voicing support for “modernization.” This is widely understood as a euphemism for privatization.

Hear and download audio from the press conference here

“For over 50 years the Medicare program has provided health care that would otherwise be out of reach for many seniors. It has prevented countless families from facing bankruptcy, and it allows millions of working people to retire with dignity,” said Armelagos. “But the most important costs that we should consider are human. I can tell you that bedside nurses are terrified and outraged because they understand that privatization means a lower quality of care, and in many cases no access to care at all. “

Elmarie Dixon, a Detroit senior, called on all state leaders to step up and defend Medicare. “Medicare is a promise to me and to everyone else. Our lives and our health matter more than insurance company profits.” Dixon believes in the program so wholeheartedly that she thinks it should be expanded, not privatized. “We should let people buy into Medicare. We should create medicare for long-term care for our elders. We owe it to each to do better.”

Dixon and Armelagos were joined at Metro Zion AME Church by over 50 seniors and clergy.

Michigan community organizations push back against Sessions’ appointment

Too racist to be Federal judge, certainly too  racist to be Attorney General

Detroit city council members stood with Michigan civil rights organizations to oppose President elect, Donald Trump’s appointment of Jeff Sessions as US Attorney General. Janee Ayers, one of the city’s two at large representatives, and Brenda Jones, the council President joined the chorus of voices calling for a more moderate choice. “We’re talking about is a dangerous person.” Said Ayers. “The Civil rights act, sanctuary cities, criminal justice reform. These are all things that any one of us could have to deal with at any given time… We are all human beings who have had somebody come before us who fought so we could have inalienable rights. Now those rights are under attack.”

Hear and download audio from the press conference

Sessions, the Junior US Senator from Alabama, has been a staunch opponent of immigrant rights. His bid for a Federal Judgeship ended amid controversy over reported racist statements. He’s also referred to groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union as “un-American”. Add to this President elect, Donald Trump has called for unconstitutional policing tactics such as “stop and frisk”, the use of “waterboarding and much worse” and that American citizens could be sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and held without charge.

“Donald Trump staged a very divisive campaign to be elected President” said Bishop Herman Starks of Michigan United’s Detroit Pastoral Alliance for Change. “If he hopes to heal the nation, he’s going about it all wrong.”

Starks focused on the effect Sessions would have on voting rights going forward. As Alabama Attorney General, Sessions pursued bogus voter fraud cases against African Americans. “In the post- Voting Rights era, this is not the person to put in charge of protecting minority rights.” said Starks “The next AG must have a respect for civil rights and equal protection under the law.”