Sanctuary Cities Vow to Defend 'Basic Human Decency' From Trump

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by Andrea Germanos, staff writer

www.commondream.org

Sanctuary Cities Vow to Defend 'Basic Human Decency' From Trump

"We're going to keep bringing people together, making sure we remain a sanctuary for all. "

With Donald Trump's inauguration just over a month away, it will soon become clear whether he intends on using beginning days in the White House to try to follow through on his promise to end federal funding for sanctuary cities. Scores of such cities, however, are standing resolute, with officials from over three dozen of them publicly reaffirming their commitment to "basic human decency."

Sanctuary cities, sometimes called Fourth Amendment cities, as The Atlantic's CityLab has described, offer some protection to undocumented immigrants because they "keep local policing and federal immigration enforcement separate by asking local police to decline 'detainers'—non-binding requests from ICE asking for extended detention of inmates they suspect are deportable."

In contrast to claims made by proponents of harsh immigrant crackdowns, research has shown that "designating a city as a sanctuary has no statistically significant effect on crime." In fact, it is harsh immigration policing that can negatively impact the whole community.

According to a new tally by Politico, out of a total of 47 sanctuary cities, "officials in at least 37 cities (listed below) have doubled down since Trump's election, reaffirming their current policies or practices in public statements, despite the threat of pushback from the incoming administration, and at least four cities have newly declared themselves sanctuary cities since Trump's win."

"There is no definitive list of U.S. sanctuary cities because of the term's flexible definition," the publication notes, and that itself may make it more problematic for Trump to ban the federal funds.

As Kica Matos, director of immigrant rights and racial justice at the Center for Community Change, explained to Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting last month, "sanctuary cities are understood as places that protect the undocumented immigrant and provide a haven for them and provide the opportunity for immigrants, irrespective of their status, to be welcomed, to be productive citizens in their respective communities, and to engage in the civic life of the cities."

So if you look at some of the anti-immigrant organizations, Center for Immigrant Studies has a broader definition of sanctuary city, where they define sanctuary cities as any city that is friendly towards immigrants. So where I live, for example, New Haven, Connecticut, it's considered a sanctuary city under their definition, because the city implemented a program to offer city identification cards to any resident of the city, irrespective of their status. So if you go by that broader definition, there are hundreds of sanctuary cities in the United States, and many of them are already engaged in acts of defiance, publicly letting the federal government know that they will do absolutely everything they can to protect immigrants in their communities.

That broader definition seems to apply to Boulder, Colo., where city leaders are hoping to pass an ordinance before inauguration day to make it a sanctuary city—though whether or not the term 'sanctuary' actually ends up in the ordinance is unclear at this point.

Santa Ana, Calif., as Politico writes, is like the Vermont cities of Burlington, Montpelier, and Winooski in that it declared itself a sanctuary city post-election.

"The day after Donald Trump got elected, our kids were falling apart emotionally. They thought their parents would be deported," the Los Angeles Times quotes said Sal Tinajero, a Santa Ana City Council member and local high school teacher, as saying.

"The reason you're seeing this push now is that us leaders ... want to tell them they are going to be protected. If they are going to come for them, they have to come through us first," Tinajero said.

Somerville, Mass., meanwhile, is among the cities on Politico's tally that have reaffirmed their commitments. In an open letter published last month, Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone wrote, "We will not turn our back on our neighbors. Our diversity is our strength. Since we became a sanctuary city [in 1987], our crime rate has dropped more than 50%."

So "for anyone who claims that cracking down on sanctuary cities has something to do with high crime or a stagnant economy, Somerville stands as a flashing, neon billboard for how wrong that thinking is," he continued.

"If cities have to make a stand for basic human decency, then we're going to make that stand. We saw a presidential campaign based on fear and a desire to ostracize anyone who could be categorized as different. That may have swung an election, but it provides us with no roadmap forward. Tearing communities apart only serves to tear them down. We're going to keep bringing people together, making sure we remain a sanctuary for all. We are one community. We've got values that work. We know what makes America great," Curtatone concludes.

Also among Trump's anti-immigrant promises is a pledge to deport "more than two million criminal illegal immigrants from the country"—which he clarified to mean people who haven't actually been convicted of a crime.

Politico's list of 37 cities that have reaffirmed their commitments to being sanctuaries is below:

Appleton, Wisconsin

Ashland, Oregon

Aurora, Chicago

Aurora, Colorado

Austin, Texas

Berkeley, California

Boston, Massachusetts

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Chicago, Illinois

Denver, Colorado

Detroit, Michigan

Evanston, Illinois

Hartford, Connecticut

Jersey City, New Jersey

Los Angeles, California

Madison, Wisconsin

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Nashville, Tennessee

New Haven, Connecticut

New York, New York

Newark, New Jersey

Newton, Massachusetts

Oakland, California

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Phoenix, Arizona

Portland, Oregon

Providence, Rhode Island

Richmond, California

San Francisco, California

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Seattle, Washington

Somerville, Massachusetts

St. Paul, Minnesota

Syracuse, New York

Takoma Park, Maryland

Tucson, Arizona

Washington, D.C.

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Sanders and Perez to Launch Nationwide 'Come Together & Fight Back' Tour

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April 17, 2017 by Nadia Prupis, staff writer

www.commondreams.org

Sanders and Perez to Launch Nationwide 'Come Together & Fight Back' Tour

'At a time of massive income and wealth inequality and a shrinking middle class, we need a government which represents all Americans'

 

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Tom Perez will kick off a multi-state tour in Maine on Monday, where they are expected to outline the progressive plan to strengthen the party, bolster grassroots activism, and resist President Donald Trump.

"At a time of massive income and wealth inequality and a shrinking middle class, we need a government which represents all Americans, not just Wall Street, multi-national corporations, and the top 1 percent," Sanders and Perez said in a joint statement.

The circuit is officially named the "Come Together and Fight Back" tour.

Sanders won Maine's presidential caucuses by nearly two-thirds when he ran in the 2016 primaries against Hillary Clinton. The tour is expected to take him and Perez through Maine, Kentucky, Florida, Nebraska, Utah, Montana, Arizona, and Nevada—the red and purple states where the Vermont socialist swept up the kind of blue-collar support that Democrats often fall short on, turning him from a fringe candidate to a formidable challenger and bringing his brand of progressive populism to the forefront of the race.

The two are expected to speak in favor of a $15 minimum wage, women's equality, combating climate change, criminal justice reform, debt-free education, and other issues.

"Regardless of where they live or their political affiliations, most people understand that it is absurd for Republicans in Congress to support huge tax breaks for billionaires while pushing for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid," Sanders and Perez said Monday.

Their tour comes as Democrats continue to take stock of their shocking 2016 defeat and strategize on reforming the party.

Perez, who was elected as DNC chair in February, last month asked for the resignations of all the organization's staffers. The deadline passed this weekend. Many saw the move as a sign of Sanders' continuing influence on the party, which has also led Democrats to draft an economic agenda—to be unveiled as early as this summer—that is expected to take its cues from the senator's populist rhetoric.

Sanders also criticized lawmakers for what he saw as a failure to sufficiently help James Thompson, a civil rights lawyer and veteran, in last week's special election when he ran for the Kansas U.S. House seat vacated by CIA chief Mike Pompeo.

"It is true that the Democratic Party should have put more resources into that election," Sanders said on CNN's "State of the Union" of the Thompson campaign. "But it is also true that he ran 20 points better than the Democratic candidate for president did in Kansas."

"So many of our people are giving up on the political process," he continued. "It is very frightening. In the last presidential election, when Trump won, we had the lowest voter turnout over—in 20 years. And in the previous two years before that, in the midterm election, we had the lowest voter turnout in 70 years. We're going to be fighting to see that the Democratic Party becomes a 50-state party. You can't just be a West Coast party and an East Coast party."

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Sanders Rips 'Greedy' Nissan, Backs Workers' Union Effort

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by Jake Johnson, staff writer, August 3, 2017

www.commondreams.org

Sanders Rips 'Greedy' Nissan, Backs Workers' Union Effort

In op-ed, Sanders applauds autoworkers' efforts to unionize in the face of vicious corporate backlash

 

As Nissan workers in Canton, Mississippi are set to begin voting Thursday on whether to form a union in the face of "one of the nastiest anti-union campaigns in modern U.S. history," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) penned an op-ed expressing his support for the workers' effort, linking it to a broader struggle against racial injustice and America's staggering income inequality.

"The truth is Nissan is an all-too-familiar story of how greedy corporations divide and conquer working people." 

—Sen. Bernie SandersSanders, writing for The Guardian, begins by invoking the words of Martin Luther King Jr., who wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, "freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

"This week, thousands of courageous workers at a Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi are doing just that," Sanders writes. "They are voting for the right to join a union, the right to make a living wage, and the right to job security and pensions. And they are doing so by connecting workers' rights with civil rights, as the plant's workforce is over 80 percent African American."

Since the 1970s, union membership in the United States has declined rapidly; as union membership has fallen, research shows, inequality has soared and worker pay has stagnated.

During his 2016 presidential campaign, Sanders brought these themes to the national stage, and in recent weeks he has continued to push legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and guarantee healthcare to all Americans.

The struggle of Nissan workers, Sanders argued on Thursday, is connected to struggles of workers across the country fighting for the right to organize and earn a living wage in the face of corporate backlash.

"The truth is Nissan is an all-too-familiar story of how greedy corporations divide and conquer working people," Sanders writes. "The company has brought in large numbers of contract employees and paid them less than they paid full-timers for the same work—an old trick for driving down everyone's wages. The company is also telling those undecided about the union that their pro-union co-workers would cost them their jobs."

Sanders goes on to argue that Nissan's vicious anti-union push is geared entirely toward protecting its "obscene profits," which he suggests "are a direct result of corporations' decades-long assault on workers and their unions."

"We need to build on their courageous efforts, and fight for an economy that works for all of us, not just the top one percent." 

—Bernie Sanders"Nissan is not a poor company. It is not losing money," Sanders writes. "Last year, it made a record-breaking $6.6 billion in profits and it gave its CEO more than $9.5 million in total compensation."

Despite the high-minded justifications the company has offered for its campaign against the workers' attempt to unionize—which the National Labor Relations Board argues has violated workers' rights—Nissan "does not want unions in the U.S. South, because unions mean higher wages, safer working conditions, decent healthcare, and a secure retirement," Sanders writes.

No matter what results the vote brings, Sanders concludes, "Nissan workers should be very proud."

"They have exposed the system of racial and economic injustice that corporations like Nissan are perpetrating," Sanders writes. "We need to build on their courageous efforts, and fight for an economy that works for all of us, not just the top one percent."

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Sanders to Grassroots Army: New 'Medicare for All' Bill Only Beginning of Battles to Come

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by Jake Johnson, staff writer, September 11, 2017

www.commondreams.org

Sanders to Grassroots Army: New 'Medicare for All' Bill Only Beginning of Battles to Come

"This is not going to be a quick or easy fight. We'll be taking on the insurance companies, the drug companies, Wall Street, and all those who make billions in profit from the current dysfunctional system."

 

As he gears up to introduce on Wednesday his much-anticipated Medicare for All bill—which has already garnered the support of several high-profile Democratic senators—Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is urging activists and lawmakers to remember that bringing legislation to the table is merely the first step in a long struggle to guarantee healthcare for all Americans.

"We need to develop a political movement which is prepared to take on and defeat a ruling class whose greed is destroying our nation." 

—Sen. Bernie Sanders"This is not going to be a quick or easy fight," Sanders noted in a recent email to supporters. "We'll be taking on the insurance companies, the drug companies, Wall Street, and all those who make billions in profit from the current dysfunctional system."

Sanders and his allies are now executing a massive digital ad campaign that seeks to build upon the surging support for Medicare for All at the grassroots. As Common Dreams reported, the campaign has hauled in a flood of small-dollar contributions, reminiscent of Sanders' 2016 presidential run.

Now, Sanders is preparing to continue this nationwide push for Medicare for All after he introduces his legislation in the Senate this week.

"We're going to put together a grassroots movement that organizes people in all parts of this country much like we did during the presidential race," Sanders wrote in the email. "There will be rallies, buttons, bumper stickers, shirts, and most importantly people organizing in their communities across the country."

Acknowledging in an interview with NPR that the legislation will not pass the "very right-wing" Congress, Sanders has said the purpose of introducing the legislation, and of launching the Medicare for All campaign, is to continue building popular support while also calling attention to the fact that "the United States is the only major country on earth not to guarantee healthcare to all people."

Our Revolution—the group that was formed on the heels of Sanders' presidential run—and other progressive organizations are joining the Vermont senator's single-payer push by phone-banking and knocking on doors throughout the country.

Dan Cantor, national director of the Working Families Party, told CNN that one of the key drivers of the groundswell of support for single payer was the GOP's attempt to strip healthcare from more than 20 million Americans.

"In the end, the biggest impact of the Republicans' attack on healthcare may be this: It has strengthened the resolve of many, many Americans to fight for healthcare for all," Cantor concluded.

Over the last several months, a growing number of Democratic lawmakers have joined grassroots organizations by publicly expressing support for Medicare for All—something that, as Vox's Dylan Matthews notes, would not have happened several years ago.

"This is what it looks like when the center of gravity in Democratic politics shifts—towards decency and boldness." 

—Ben Wikler, MoveOn.orgAs Common Dreams reported last week, even Democrats who were once fierce opponents of single payer are now beginning to view it as the only alternative to the current for-profit system.

"This is what it looks like when the center of gravity in Democratic politics shifts—towards decency and boldness," notes Ben Wikler, Washington director at MoveOn.org, which is backing Sanders' Medicare for All campaign.

But, consistent with his message during the presidential race, Sanders continues to insist that real change will not come from the top down.

"Change never happens from inside of Washington, D.C. Certainly not with this president and not with this Congress. No, real change always comes from our communities and the grassroots," Sanders concluded. "If we are still serious about transforming our country, if we are serious about rebuilding the middle class, we need to develop a political movement which is prepared to take on and defeat a ruling class whose greed is destroying our nation."

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Sanders to Trump: End Insulting Tweets and Start Rebuilding Puerto Rico

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by Jon Queally, staff writer,  October 05, 2017

www.commondreams.org

Sanders to Trump: End Insulting Tweets and Start Rebuilding Puerto Rico

The president "should be focusing his energies on helping to rebuild Puerto Rico, not attacking San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz."

In an op-ed directed at President Donald Trump on Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders called on the president to quit with the insulting tweets and start doing a better job to help rebuild the storm-ravaged and economically-devastated island of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory and home to millions of American citizens.

"When Congress just passed an almost $700 billion defense bill and is now debating a Republican proposal to give up to $5 trillion in tax cuts to the wealthy and large corporations, we have the resources to provide the help to Puerto Rico that we always do when states and communities are hard hit by hurricanes." —Sen. Bernie SandersIn the guest column for the local El Nueva Dia newspaper—titled "Trump: Less Tweets, More Melp"—Sanders said the people of Puerto Rico "are entitled to the same kind of response as the people of Texas, Florida, Vermont and other regions of the country that have been hit hard by natural disasters. President Donald Trump should be focusing his energies on helping to rebuild Puerto Rico, not attacking San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz."

Sanders excoriates the president—who during his visit to the island earlier this week said the disaster was throwing the federal "budget out of whack" and "costing a lot of money"—for being so grossly insensitive to the dire situation in Puerto Rico while at home pushing a budget that adds tens of billions of dollars to already bloated Pentagon spending and proposes massive giveaways in tax cuts to the nations wealthiest individuals and corporations.

"When Congress just passed an almost $700 billion defense bill and is now debating a Republican proposal to give up to $5 trillion in tax cuts to the wealthy and large corporations," writes Sanders, "we have the resources to provide the help to Puerto Rico that we always do when states and communities are hard hit by hurricanes."

As a growing chorus of renewable energy experts and climate advocates are urging, Sanders also called for the island to be built back with a strict focus on green technologies that make more sense for the island's long-term economic health and resilience.

"As an island with extraordinary solar and wind capabilities, a new distributed energy system must be built which is based on sustainable energy, not expensive fossil fuel," Sanders argues. "Not only will this provide less expensive electricity, but it will enable Puerto Rico to better withstand future natural disasters."

According to Michelle Chen, writing for The Nation on Wednesday:

In the face of escalating environmental vulnerability for the whole region due to climate change, recovery from Maria will be painful, but there may be one silver lining: There’s a chance that the disaster could end up leading the island to kick its reliance on dirty fossil fuels. Researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at University of Massachusetts-Amherst see fertile ground for renewal through green rebuilding efforts and a self-sufficient energy system. Creating a renewables-based power grid emancipated from the fossil-fuel industry could blaze a path to socially fair and climate-resilient energy sovereignty for the island.

With the right balance of massive public investment and tax restructuring, PERI argues, an island-wide program of “green growth” is possible. According to PERI, if the island’s long-struggling communities can reclaim the recovery process through democratic public control, the energy infrastructure could completely replace imported fossil fuels with homegrown renewable power by 2050.

And while Trump's budget director Mick Mulvaney on Wednesday made it clear that the White House—contrary to an earlier casual and apparently erroneous statement by the president—is not considering cancelling Puerto Rico's debt and that the controverial PROMESA program will remain in place, Sanders called that the wrong approach.

"Let me be very clear in saying that the 2016 PROMESA law that treats the island like a colony is not the answer," argues Sanders. "The people of Puerto Rico, through their own elected officials, should be determining future of the island, not a seven-member control board. Wall Street vulture funds should not be allowed to make huge profits off the misery of the Puerto Rican people."

And concludes, "Now is the time for all Americans to stand together. Now is the time for President Trump to stop his insulting tweets. Now is the time to rebuild Puerto Rico."

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