Texans Do Not Want a Border Wall. Pass the DREAM Act Now.

The Texas border has never been more secure than it is now. On the Mexican border, there are already nearly 700 miles of fencepredator drone aircraft with facial recognition technology, military-grade surveillance equipmentaerostat balloons — gigantic blimps with 360-degree, infrared sensors that detect movement from 5,000 feet in the air–motion-triggered cameras, miles and miles of barbed-wire, and thousands of heavily armed border agents.

DHS employs more than 12,000 sensors along the border, with hundreds of license plate readers at ports of entry, and giant X-ray scanners for trains and trucks. In fact, once-sleepy border towns are now mass-surveillance zones, where every move of innocent residents is documented and cataloged.

Crime rates are lower in U.S. cities along the border with Mexico than elsewhere in the country. The border is safe. Unauthorized border crossings diminished to historic lows in recent years. In fact, net migration from Mexico is at zero or less. The number of Border Patrol agents along the border has OCTUPLED since 1982.

The border is already heavily militarized and secure.

And yet House Republicans, led by Michael McCaul (TX-10), unveiled a plan to provide $10 billion for Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico. The package would add 10,000 more border patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers, tap the National Guard to patrol the southern border and target people who have overstayed visas.

A $20-billion dollar, 2,000-mile, 30-foot high, poured-concrete wall is, quite literally, the last thing that our country and our state needs.

According to the Department of Homeland Security:

The number of unauthorized foreign nationals deported from the U.S. has been declining since its 2012 peak of nearly 410,000. These include apprehensions at the border and those removed from the interior of the U.S., according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency charged with policing the border. Factors such as fewer immigrants trying to get to the U.S. and stronger border enforcement have contributed to the trend, as has an Obama administration focus on deporting criminals.

Like previous Republican-led efforts, McCaul’s “border security” package focuses exclusively on enforcement, without reforming our outdated system that fails to provide adequate channels for obtaining legal immigration status.

Republicans like Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick have been fear-mongering for years about the need for increased border security. Despite the reality of the situation, they continue to make specious claims that the United States government is not in control of the border, and that the lack of control is somehow deliberate, and speak as if “illegals”–the word used by white supremacists for undocumented immigrants–were pouring into the country in waves.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

And according to the Pew Research Center:

The undocumented population isn’t growing. Data analyzed by the Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project show that the number of people living in the U.S. illegally has declined slightly to just over 11 million.

The cowardly pandering to a dwindling minority of nativists that Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and their lieutenants in the Texas GOP engage in will be their undoing in Texas. Demonizing, scapegoating, targeting, demeaning, and spreading lies about immigrants is now just what the Trump-era GOP does. It does not represent the spirit and wishes of real Texans, who know that immigrants are part of the fabric of our society. Those who vilify immigrants to appease their dwindling base–like the Empower Texans-backed “Texas Freedom Caucus” in the Texas Legislature are in the minority.

The majority of Americans do not want to pour billions of their tax dollars into funding Trump’s mass deportation machine. The fact is, the wall is an unpopular idea. Most Texans oppose it.

We’re calling on every Texan to shift the conversation to the urgent need for Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which would provide permanent protection and a pathway to citizenship to unauthorized immigrants who came to the country as children.

82% of voters believe that DREAMers should have a path to citizenship, including 69% of Republicans. 

Politicians want nothing more than to be popular. Not only do we have the leverage to put a stop to Republicans in Congress pandering to nativists with border wall and militarization, but we are in the majority. We have leverage to pressure Congress to pass the DREAM Act. And we should use it. 

I don’t subscribe to a view that a utilitarian or meritocratic justification for immigrants is necessary. But members of the Texas Congressional delegation do.

So in that regard, making an economic case for a clean DREAM Act is a no-brainer: there are 138,440 DACA recipients in Texas alone, and each year they contribute $313,095,000 in State and local taxes.

Passing the DREAM Act, and placing all of the potentially immediately eligible workers on a path to legal status, would add a total of $22.7 billion annually to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). Because the gains from legalization grow each year, the cumulative increase in GDP over 10 years would be $281 billion.

Texas has the most to gain and the most to lose, based on how we move forward on immigration reform. Our leaders refuse to show courage and leadership, so it’s up to us.

We have to act, and we have to act now. Call your members of Congress. Tell them you do not want a wall, and urge them to pass a clean DREAM Act.

If helpful, use the following script:

YOU: Hi, my name is [name]. I’m calling from [address/city/ZIP Code].

YOU: I am calling to ask [MoC/House Member] to vote NO on the proposed “border wall” package that Michael McCaul has sponsored and brought to the House for a vote. This is not something that Texans want or need.The border is already heavily militarized and secure. Crime rates are lower in U.S. cities along the border with Mexico than elsewhere in the country. Unauthorized border crossings have diminished to historic lows in recent years. In fact, net migration from Mexico is at zero or less. The number of Border Patrol agents along the border has OCTUPLED since 1982. Our Members of Congress should not be wasting their time and energy on this when the country has other very urgent matters we could be addressing, namely, passing the DREAM Act.

YOU: This cannot wait. I implore the Congressman to vocally, publicly signal his support for a clean DREAM Act, which would provide permanent protection and a pathway to citizenship to unauthorized immigrants who came to the country as children. The economic incentive is a no-brainer. There are 138,440 DACA recipients in Texas alone, and each year they contribute $313,095,000 in State and local taxes. Passing the Dream Act, and placing all of the potentially immediately eligible workers on a path to legal status, would add a total of $22.7 billion annually to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).

YOU: Finally, it’s very important the DREAM Act not be held hostage with clauses, caveats, riders, or amendments that would add additional border militarization, or call for more deportation forces to be added. We will not accept the Congressman’s support for any bill that compromises the integrity of the DREAM Act with language that would allow any kind of “wall”, increased militarization, or deportation forces.

YOU: Thank you and have a nice day.

Capitol Switchboard:

(202) 224-3121

Secretary of State Rolando Pablos Must Obey the Law & Do His Job

Under the Texas election code, high school principals are required to provide at least two opportunities for eligible students to register to vote every year.

However, data from the 2016 election shows that too few high schools are providing their students with the opportunity to participate in the democratic process.

In 2016, just 198 of 1,428 public high schools in Texas, or 14%, and zero private high school requested voter registration forms in the semester before the voter registration deadline.

On September 5, 2017, our partners at the Texas Civil Rights Project delivered a letter to Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos demanding that he not only comply with the state law, but that he do so in a way that takes substantive steps to actually empower Texas high schools to get their students registered.

Rolando Pablos has written an op-ed in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram that says, essentially, “Principals, this is your problem.” His office has otherwise refused to comment.

So we’re going demand that the Texas Secretary of State to take a more direct, proactive role in helping register high school students across the state to vote. And we’re going to call, email, write postcards, and visit his office until he does.

Here’s what Secretary of State Rolando Pablos needs to do:

  1. Distribute voter registration applications to all Texas high schools every year, instead of requiring high schools to to submit a written request for these applications themselves
  2. Ensure that all Texas high schools offer their senior students who are eligible to vote an opportunity to register to vote by instituting a tracking process that would gauge the success of each high school’s implementation of the law
  3. Enhance procedures that notify all Texas high schools of the need to comply with the law
  4. Create trainings for all Texas high schools in order to ensure all legal duties and administrative rules are clear
  5. Enforce state law to ensure that all Texas high schools are in full compliance and register their students to vote.

Directed by Greg Abbott, Pablos’ office already complied with the Trump’s sham “election integrity commission”. We simply refuse to accept further efforts by his office at voter suppression–in this case, by not complying with an existing law.

High school students are the future of our democracy. The Secretary of State must do more to ensure all eligible students are registered to vote.

Contact:
Secretary of State Rolando Pablos

Email: secretary@sos.texas.gov or elections@sos.texas.gov

Phone: (512) 463-5650 or 1-800-252-8683

Fax: (512) 475-2811

Sample Script:

Hello there, my name is ____ and I live in <YOUR ZIP CODE>. I’m calling today because the Secretary of State needs to take a more active role in helping register high school students across the state to vote.

Under Texas election code, high school principals, public and private, are required to register eligible students to vote two times a year. However, only fourteen percent of schools even requested voter registration forms, and zero private schools requested any. High schools are simply not complying with this law.

We are petitioning the Secretary of State’s office to automatically send voter registration cards to the high schools instead of high schools requesting the cards themselves. We are asking that the Secretary of State enhance procedures that notify all Texas high schools of the need to comply with this law. We are also asking that the Secretary of State’s office create trainings for all Texas high schools in order to ensure all legal duties and administrative rules are clear. And we’re demanding that the Secretary of State enforce state law to ensure that all Texas high schools are in full compliance and that they register their students to vote.

 

High school students are the future of our democracy. The Secretary of State must do more to ensure all eligible students are registered to vote.

 

Texans: Amplify Your Activism

Texans: Amplify Your Activism

Do you want to get your member of the Texas legislature or member of Congress to hear what you have to say on an issue that’s deeply important to you?

Are you frustrated by what’s happening with our democracy and do you want to get more involved?

I. If you haven’t already, begin by studying the Indivisible Guide: https://www.indivisibleguide.com. This is your army field guide for the war on our democracy.

Next, pick your issue. What mobilizes you to action: Healthcare? Immigration? LGBT rights? Voting Rights? Repro Rights? Disability Rights? Environmental Protections? Education?

Pick a primary issue (many issues are intersectional and will overlap) – one that energizes you or angers you the most. Then consider your personal connection to that issue: How does this issue touch your life? Does it threaten your health? Safety? Family? Finances? Future? Etc.

II. Find out who decides what will happen to your issue. Is your issue being addressed (or ignored) by bills, laws, or executive order? Find out where your issue belongs:

Local Government:

  • Mayor
  • City Council member
  • Board member (if public school district issue)

State Government:

Your Senator and your House Rep. can be found using the links below.

Federal Government

House of Representatives: You have one for your district

Each State has two Senators that represent the entire state.


When you know Who you need to contact and you’ve thought about Why the issue matters to you, it’s time to write your story.

  • Your story is what makes your stance on an issue so compelling: not only for your community or for the media, but for your representative. I can argue all day about how healthcare is a civil right and how a free market solution and the loss of a social safety net with cost human lives, but that argument is more effective and I’m likely to better argue it when you can tie it to something that personally affects you.

Put together your story in 200 words or less using this outline:

  • Cause
  • Concern
  • Connection
  • Consequence(s)
  • Call-To-Action

Always include your name, address, phone number, and email address so they can reply to you and so they will know you are a constituent (not necessary for letter to the editor submissions)

For example, the issue that drives me and compels me and keeps me up at night is health care. So let’s break it down here, as an example:

  • Cause: Healthcare
  • Concern: The AHCA bill will unravel ACA protections and gut Medicaid
  • Connection: My daughter needs life-saving access to care. She is disabled and has several pre-existing conditions including heart disease and Down syndrome. We are self-employed and qualify for ACA subsidies for access to insurance coverage and are grateful to not be charged more for my daughter’s care due to her disability and existing conditions.
  • Consequence: If AHCA passes and Medicaid cuts go into affect, we may be forced to close our small business and look for work for another employer. Contractors who work with us will not have work. If we can’t afford coverage for my disabled child she will go without treatment for her complex medical conditions, placing her life at risk. Cuts to Medicaid will prolong wait lists for waiver services, placing my daughter at risk of institutionalization.
  • Call-To-Action: Therefore, I ask you Senator Cruz to oppose Medicaid Cuts and Trumpcare.

Now you have your story. It’s time to get your representative to hear it and take action!

Below are the order of operations I like to take for advocacy. You will want to connect with the highest-level government official who can take the action you demand. Ask to meet directly with your representative but be willing to talk with someone else – for now.

Request an in-person meeting with your Representative.

Visit the State Legislature or Congressional website for your Representative to request an in-person meeting with your member of legislature (for State) or member of Congress (federal). Most of them will have an online submission form you must use to request a meeting. Tell them you want to meet and discuss an issue [describe in one sentence what that issue is] and then be sure to copy and paste include your story. If you don’t get a response in a few days, follow up with a phone call to their office to check on the progress of your request. If the representative is unavailable (as they will claim to be in most cases), ask to meet with the regional director (for members of Congress) or Chief of Staff (for state legislators) at the office nearest you. Keep up the request and don’t stop until you get a meeting.

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

If you still don’t get a response within a few days, say so on social media. Tag your representative to let them know you’ve reached out but no one has answered you. Keep calling and emailing to follow-up until you get an appointment. You may also wish to drop by unannounced at your nearest field office for your representative. Then you can ask them in person about your request for a meeting. Bring a printed-out copy (and an extra) with you in case they offer you an impromptu meeting with the director, deputy director or staff member or intern. Agree to the meeting and at the close, get business cards, ask for a photo of you with the staff member, then ask for a follow-up meeting with the representative in person. Next, snail mail and email a thank you note, a copy of your story and mention your follow-up request to see your representative.

Get Creative!

Write a song, do some artwork, make a video, or write a poem about your issue. Have fun! I’ve seen activists do a “silent-film” style performance about the death of the ACA. It was awesome! Do your thing and deliver it to your representative. Post it on social media. Organize a demonstration with your local Indivisible group on social media and host a rally. Follow up from your rally with a small sign for your representative from the demonstration as a token of the demonstration and deliver your personal letter and call-to-action with your contact information included for follow-up. Photograph the delivery of that action. Spread it across all social media.

Aim for the Top of the Food Chain

The Congress person or State Senator/Representative will likely not meet with you, but they should offer you the opportunity for a meeting with a staff member at their regional office. You want to meet with the highest ranking staff member so ask to meet with the Regional Director (they will pawn you off on an intern if you let them, or another staff member and sometimes the Deputy Regional Director).

You can choose to meet with these other staff members if they don’t make a meeting with the Director available. When you do, take pictures, deliver a print copy of your story and follow-up with a thank you card, email, and post images on social media of your meeting (be sure to flag your MoC in that FB or Twitter post).

In every follow-up correspondence, in addition to thanking them for the meeting, restate your request to meet next with the MoC in person. If you must, settle for a follow-up with the next higher-up – usually the regional director for your Senator or Chief of Staff/Exec. Director for your House Rep. If that option isn’t available, you can also request a conference call with the DC policy point person for your issue.

For example, my issue is healthcare, so I ask to speak with my Senator’s healthcare policy director in DC.

And when meeting with my Texas state legislator, I ask to speak with their Chief of Staff and their healthcare policy director.

Chain of Command

It’s worthwhile to know the how the chain of command works so you can work your way to the top:

  1. Senator or House Rep
  2. Chief of Staff or Executive Director
  3. Policy Director (in Austin for Texas Lege or in DC for MoCs. There is usually one for each major issue).
  4. Regional Director
  5. Deputy Regional Director
  6. Local Office Staff Member
  7. Intern

Follow-Up Procedure

VERY IMPORTANT! Following up correctly is arguably as important as the meeting itself. After every meeting or phone conference, email and snail mail a thank you note and a request to meet with your Representative or MoC (or request a follow-up meeting again if they actually met with you in person).

Remember: you are building rapport with staff. By being persistent in your efforts, they will understand that the only way to get rid of you is by granting you access to your representative or MoC. And when that happens, you will build on that relationship as well. They work for you, after all.

 Your Team

In addition to getting to know the gatekeepers for your Representatives, you will want to get to know and follow reporters and fellow advocates that have access to networks and media. These will be the folks you will notify of all your actions. They will be the voices who will help you amplify your efforts. Find them, friend them, and follow them:

  • News Media, local, state and national
  • Issue-Related Group Networks on Twitter & FB
  • Local and Statewide Issue-Based Advocacy Groups
  • Local and Statewide Indivisible Groups

Helpful links:

Here’s a guide to writing and sending your personal story to members of Congress: http://guides.lib.berkeley.edu/ContactingOfficials/Tips

How to testify at the legislature: http://covertexasnow.org/Resources/How-to-Testify

How to set up a meeting with your MoC: http://familiesusa.org/product/how-set-meeting-your-member-congress

Other Tips:

Don’t forget our Representatives at the State and Federal levels WORK FOR YOU! If you feel intimidated by the process or afraid to ask for what you believe in, don’t be. They represent US. They work for US. And while you don’t need to threaten them with the fact, remember that if they don’t represent us, we will VOTE THEM OUT.

You don’t have to go it alone! It’s great to show a united front for an issue and to show how this affects many people. So bring a buddy! Or two, or three. I would limit visits to Legislative and Congressional staff to six or less people. More than that will usually be too many to accommodate in a meeting comfortably and for whatever reason, in my experience if you have more than half a dozen folks they will ask you to split into smaller groups or come back later. If you do go as a group, make sure you decide in advance who will speak first and what you will say. Make sure everyone is taking the same stance on the issue so there is no divisions among you. And everyone in your group should bring a one-page letter with their story, contact info and call to action –preferably.

Keep up the fight until you see the change you desire. And if you don’t, find out who will run for office to unseat your representative and start working for their campaign. If no one is running, consider a run for office! There is always something we can do. Our democracy depends on our persistent efforts to defend our civil rights and to protect the future for all Americans.

In solidarity,

Julie Ross

 

 

 

A Dark Day For Texas

We are deeply grieved that Texas House Republicans took what was already on its face a racist law in SB4 and made it even worse, turning it into true “show-me-your-papers” legislation. Every single Republican House member shamefully voted in favor of this bill.

SB4 is intentionally divisive legislation whose specific aim is to vilify Latinos and immigrants. It will make the task of local law enforcement even more difficult, it will break up families and it will sow anxiety and suspicion among members of minority communities around the state.

An attempt to “soften” this bill backfired when Rep Matt Schaefer, a hard-right extremist from Tyler, added an amendment onto the bill lifting language from the Senate version that would allow law enforcement to question a person’s immigration status while “detained”, not just under arrest. The definition of “detained” is so broad that it could mean anything.

Additionally, Republicans in the House voted down any attempts at exempting veterans, pregnant women, and even children from interrogation. It was appalling to witness, but again, unsurprising given that the GOP has introduced a Senate bill written by a lobbyist for the GEO Group, a prison company that runs the 830-bed Karnes County Residential Center, would allow the detention facilities to detain children who are seeking asylum for much longer than what is currently allowed.

There can be no clearer statement that the GOP in Texas is willing to target innocent children, break up families, and encourage constitutional violations like racial profiling and make ALL Texas communities less safe, solely to make immigrants feel unwelcome in Texas and score points with an extremist base, emboldened by Trump rhetoric.

Make no mistake: SB4 is specifically designed to satisfy white supremacists. It is “whitelash” in its purest form.

In Houston, Latinos are already reporting 40% fewer rapes so far this year, and it’s because of the fear of deportation. Once Greg Abbott signs this racist piece of legislation into law, it will have already led to an *increase* in crime. This law has nothing to do with keeping us safe.

In Texas, we are under direct attack by those who have been elected to protect us.

For the last three months, since Greg Abbott went onto the House Floor and spread lies about the Latino community to score points with white supremacists in this state, we’ve fought this every step of the way. We’ve occupied offices, we’ve flooded Reps with phone calls, we’ve protested loudly and often, and, once it was clear that the GOP was willing to ignore the law enforcement community and every shred of real, factual data on immigration and crime, we even went on a hunger strike.

Our resolve has never been stronger. We will continue to stand with the immigrant community and our allies against this hateful, wasteful and unnecessary bill. And we will see to it that each member who voted in favor of this bill is held accountable. They will never live this down.

Texas Ridesharing Bill Amended with Anti-Trans Language; Call Your State Senator

It was just a bill to regulate ride-sharing companies…until state Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) amended HB 100 to indicate that “‘sex’ means the physical condition of being male or female”—despite concerns from LGBT advocates that such language would exclude the trans community.

First it was the bathroom bill.

Then it was the failed budget amendment.

Then it was the House’s weakened, but still discriminatory, bathroom bill.

And now this, the latest attack on LGBT rights. Far-right Republicans will stop at nothing to push their agenda—an agenda that they know doesn’t resonate with most Texans.
The bill, as amended, passed the House earlier today. It next heads to the Senate. CALL YOUR STATE SENATOR (I’ve included a script below) and ask them to introduce an amendment deleting this language—especially if your senator is on the Transportation Committee, which is where the bill is likely headed from here. Deleting this language in the Senate would allow a conference committee (the body that negotiates differences between House and Senate versions of bills) to remove it from the final version of the bill.

From the Texas Tribune:

“[Paddie’s] bill was tentatively approved by the lower chamber in a 110-37 vote after representatives tacked on several amendments, including one that seeks to define “sex.” The measure needs final approval from the House before it could be considered in the Senate.

At times, the debate over the bill appeared to veer into one of the most contentious topics this session at the Capitol: gender identity. In the Senate, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has prioritized a “bathroom bill” that would require transgender people to use the restroom in some places that matches their “biological sex.”

On Wednesday, state Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, successfully amended the ride-hailing bill to define “sex” as the “physical condition of being male or female.” The amendment, which passed 90-52, drew some concern from Democrats, who questioned whether it was a way to exclude a certain group.

“I can assure you that it is not my intent,” Paddie said, adding that he accepted the amendment because he views it as “further defining something that’s already defined.”

HB 100 would require ride-hailing companies to have a permit from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and pay an annual fee to operate throughout the state. It also calls for companies to perform local, state and national criminal background checks on drivers annually — which would override an Austin ordinance.

Read the full coverage at the Texas Tribune here.
Even if your senator is a Democrat, we need to communicate how much of a priority this is. Otherwise, anti-trans discrimination will become a part of Texas law.

▶ TEXAS SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE

Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville), chair
(512) 463-0103

Bob Hall (R-Edgewood), vice chair
(512) 463-0102

Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe)
(512) 463-0104

Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston)
(512) 463-0106

Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills)
(512) 463-0109

Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
(512) 463-0120

Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham)
(512) 463-0118

Charles Perry (R-Lubbock)
(512) 463-0128

José Rodríguez (D-El Paso)
(512) 463-0129

▶ PHONE SCRIPT, if you don’t know what to say

“My name is [your full name], and I’m a constituent from ZIP code [your ZIP code]. I’m calling about House Floor Amendment 12 to HB 100, by Tony Tinderholt, which establishes sex as the condition of being male or female. I strongly oppose that amendment because it is unnecessary and discriminates against the transgender community, and I’m asking Senator [senator’s last name] to introduce an amendment in the Senate to strike the language that Tinderholt added.”

Daily Resistance at the Capitol

Far-right extremists in the Legislature are waging an all out war on Texas’ rural familiesmothers, people of color, workers, women, retired teachers, and schools. The harm they have done to our communities are not because of just one bill, or even a few. The oppressive state of voting rights, worker rights, women’s rights, health care, education, and basic services for Texans in need is the cumulative effect of thousands of bills passed over decades.

Our Chapter has aligned with a broad coalition of progressive advocates to focus on building the collective power of our movement in Texas and in the state legislature. Whether you can join us for a few hours on one day, or every day, your support matters, and it will make a difference.

Every Monday through Thursday, we’re asking anyone who’s able to join us at the Capitol to register FOR, AGAINST OR NEUTRAL ON EVERY BILL that is scheduled for a hearing on that day.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up to get emailed the next day’s bill list here. The next day’s bill list will go out the night before. 
  2. Every night, you’ll get a bill list with Committee hearing times. Keep in mind that hearings are generally in the morning, with the latest hearings usually starting in the afternoon, at 2:30pm. Generally, you can register your position electronically on every bill or issue at a kiosk, but for some bills that won’t be the case.
  3. Hearings are generally in the Capitol Extension. Sometimes, for some of the more controversial bills, the State Affairs committee will hear testimony on the Senate or House floor. If that’s the case, you can just walk in, ask a clerk where the form to register your position is, and wait your turn to testify. But mainly you’ll be in the Extension. To get to there, Walk through the Rotunda, towards the elevators, and go to E1 or E2. There are also staircases leading down into the extension behind the large staircases that go up to the Senate gallery. Don’t be afraid to ask anyone you see–they’ll tell you how to get to where you need to go. Here’s a map.

If you plan to testify, but are unsure about the process, don’t worry! We’ve got an informative, easy-to-understand how-to here. There’s really nothing to it.

Even if you don’t plan to testify, we hope you’ll get to the capitol to register your opposition or support for the bills we’re tracking. It takes two minutes. You step in, sign onto public wi-fi, navigate to , register your position on a bill, and that’s it. Super easy. NB: The Senate is not as electronically savvy as the House, so you’ll need to register your position on Senate bills at a kiosk.

To help inform positions on bills, we’ve asked numerous progressive organizations to share their legislative agendas, as well as drawn from our own priority bill list. Based on that information, daily bill lists of every bill scheduled for hearing will be emailed and available at the Capitol for advocates to reference.

We’ll be at the capitol as a point of contact. You can reach us most easily via DM on Twitter. The packets will also be posted in the private Facebook Group here.

You can also receive the packets via email by signing up at http://bit.ly/txlegeresistance.

The goal and strategy of the #txlege resistance is to harness and leverage the mobilization power of the various organizations and issues we support to 1) increase our impact on bills that matter most to each our communities and 2) make sure elected officials know we are watching every bill, not just a few.

Now it’s time to let politicians know that we’re paying attention, we’re united and we’re fighting for all Texans, all the time.

Every step of the way our communities are committed to resisting. We will persist and we will participate in democracy to the fullest extent.

Join us at the capitol.

Actions for the week.

 

How to Make a List of Bills to Track in the Texas Legislature

The Texas Legislature only meets for 5 months every 2 years. Due to the condensed time frame, the sheer volume of bills can be dizzying, and covering them and knowing what fresh hell the Texas GOP and the mega-wealthy lobbies behind them are trying to push through can be hard to keep track of.

We’re doing our best to keep the process out in the daylight. First, have a look at our Intro to the Texas Legislature Online here, get familiar with the site, and create an account.

Once you’ve created an account, create a list of bills you’d like to track. Here’s how:

1. Navigate your web browser to the Texas Legislature Online:

http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/

2. Click on “My TLO”.

3. Click “Bill List”.

4. You’ll be prompted to sign in. If you haven’t already, create an account – it’s simple to do, just make sure you use a secure password and that the email account you use has Two-Factor Authentication enabled.

5. Enter a name for your Bill List and a brief description. Then click “Create”. You should then be able to Edit your Bill List.

6. Enter the numeric name of the bill you’d like to track in the left field and a brief description for your own reference (Such as, “HB1261” and “We support-would prohibit charter schools from discrimination against students on basis of their discipline history in admission policy”)

7. Once you’ve entered your desired bills, click “Save”, then click “Run”. You may then download your list of bills as a pdf if you’d like.

And that’s it! You’re up and running. Let us know how it goes in the Comments!

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How to Testify at a Texas Legislative Committee Hearing

In Texas, mega-wealthy industrial lobbies have bought and paid for most of the GOP candidates at every level of our state government. This is a fact. These lobbies install hard-right extremists who vote the way they are instructed to by the lobby think tank, the shadowy industrialists get their rich friends rewarded, and their political arm–the Texas GOP, which exists only to do the bidding of the rich and powerful–stays in power.

But things are changing. And citizen activists terrify these people. Participation is fundamental in taking Texas back. But we can’t win if we don’t show up.

A huge component of showing up entails physically going to the capitol and testifying at a committee hearing. We’ll be doing this a lot.

However, most people have never provided testimony before a Senate or House Committee. Many of us are conditioned to equate things that are new with things that are uncomfortable or scary. Not to worry!

Donna Howard put together a wonderful infographic with steps on how to testify at a Texas Legislative Committee Hearing, and we thought we’d post on this subject and help demystify what this process is like and what you can expect. You can do it! In fact, you must.

For quick reference, you can quickly find upcoming Committee Hearings page at the Texas Legislature Online, under Committees. The most controversial bills are typically sent to the State Affairs Committee in both the House and the Senate.

Before the Hearing

  1. Know when to testify – Track bills, issue areas & committee hearings by signing up for alerts at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us. We keep track of harmful legislation here, and we’ve got a post that walks you through how to use the Texas Legislature Online here if you’d like to make a list of your own bills to track. You should also follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates about what’s going on with certain bills, and when we’ll be at the capitol to testify, where committee hearings are taking place, etc.
  2. Make sure you can testify – Many committee hearings allow public testimony, but some only allow invited witnesses. Check the hearing notice!
  3. Practice your speech – Testimony is generally limited to 3 minutes. Prepare 2-3 minutes of comments, and run through it a few times.

Getting to the Capitol

  1. Parking near the building – The Capitol’s Visitor Parking Garage is located at 12th & Trinity, but it’s just as easy to park on the street around the capitol. We use an app called ParkX whenever we have to park downtown in Austin–you can just link a debit card to the app and “feed the meter” from your cel phone, without having to go back to your car. There’s metered street parking around the capitol, so you might consider bring quarters. We haven’t had any problem finding a spot on the street lately (even during SXSW), but it’s a good idea to give yourself a good 15 minute cushion before registration begins to find parking.
  2. Getting to the capitol – There are entrances on the north, south, east, and west sides of the capitol. The security checkpoints are there for everyone’s safety; don’t let the state troopers carrying machine guns intimidate you! The troopers are really quite friendly. I mean, it’s Texas y’all.
  3. Find the kiosks – You’ll find electronic kiosks–essentially iPads in a black plastic frame–near each of the committee hearing rooms. This is where you will register to provide testimony. The interface is simple–it’s a web-based form that you enter your name, address, and then you’ll denote whether you’re testifying “On” (neutral), “For”, or “Against” the bill.

    You can even log on to the public Wi-fi and register your position on the bill on your own device, by navigating to http://hwrs.house.state.tx.us/ and just following the instructions on the screen.

  4. You don’t have to give spoken testimony – Remember that the kiosks will give you the option of registering support or opposition without providing testimony. So even if you aren’t planning on staying through the entire Committee hearing, it’s always good to get down to the capitol and register your support for or opposition to a bill.
  5. Get comfortable – Arrive early, but expect to stay late. The sessions are unpredictable. Some hearings are short, but some can be very long.

When It’s Your Turn

  1. How it works – Generally, your name will be called and you’ll be invited to the podium. State your name, who you’re representing, and whether you are for, against, or “on” (neutral) the bill. For example, “My name is Mary Ross, I’m representing myself, and I’m here to testify against the bill.” Simple, we know, but many folks forget this part only to have the committee chair interrupt them.
  2. Be nice – Your testimony can be passionate, but always be respectful.
  3. Be concise – You’ll probably only have 2-3 minutes, so make it count!
  4. Be personal – Tell the Committee how this legislation will impact you, your family, and your friends. Tell your story.
  5. Bring copies – If you’re providing written copies of your testimony (for example, you may have data and supplemental material that backs up the points you’re making in your testimony), the Committee will ask for 20 printed copies. At the beginning of your testimony you can just say “I’ve provided written copies for all the members of the Committee to supplement some of the points I’ll make in my testimony today and I’ll be glad to distribute those” and a page will distribute.
  6. Follow up – Email the committee members to provide additional information. You can find them here: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/Committees/Membership.aspx

You did it!

Thanks to Donna Howard and her team for making this excellent infographic! Here’s the original infographic. Let us know how your testimony goes in the comments below.

SB6: “Bathroom Bill” Action Item Update – Public Hearing March 7th

SB6 Public Hearing

On Tuesday, March 7th, the Legislature has a public hearing scheduled on SB6, Dan Patrick’s wildly unpopular, and utterly pointless “bathroom bill”.

The hearing begins at 8 a.m. in room E1.012 (in the Capitol Extension, underground). Click here for a map of the Capitol complex and here for a map of the Extension so you know exactly where you’re going. Testimony will run through most of the day. We need to fill the gallery.

Make a plan for how you’re going to get there, and give yourself a good 10 to 15 minutes to find parking.

Book Drive

Actions for Americans has organized a book drive to educate our lawmakers on what life is actually like for transgender people and their families, and to buy a copy of the extraordinary book Becoming Nicole for Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick and every member of the Texas Legislature.

We need to hit this goal so that the books can be handed out at the Capitol on Monday, March 6th, during Trans Lobby Day.

Overcoming the fear of people who are different from us has always been one of humanity’s greatest struggles, but the fact is, all human beings deserve justice and dignity. That goes for everyone–black, white or brown; male, female or transgender; Muslim, Jewish or Christian. That respect for basic dignity is what our Constitution is based on, and that is what makes this country great.

The book drive is a vitally important step toward educating those who remain willfully ignorant–our Texas state legislators.

Donate now.

Action Item

Again, Dan Patrick and the GOP keep trying to use a widely debunked “bathroom predator myth” to nominally support this bill. There is 0 evidence for this claim. None. This is an absurd defense. You can’t isn’t even call it a logical fallacy. In reality, this bill is really a pretext to give the state and autocrats like Dan Patrick and Greg Abbott more power than local governments, but that is another discussion.

Right now it’s time for action.

  1. Call your State Senator, and call your State House Representative. They need to know that you are vehemently opposed to this legislation, and that you are watching them closely, with an eye on the 2018 Texas State elections. Click Not sure who that is? Click here.
  2. Call a friend or family member who lives in another Texas county. Discuss this issue with them. Ask them if they know who their state rep is. What has their legislator done for them lately that has really improved their financial situation? Are they aware that their legislator is probably bought and paid for by an industrial special interest? (I’ll be posting on dark money in TX politics later). It’s important that the culture of fear and disinformation our lawmakers willfully deploy is addressed in real time, with friends, family members, and neighbors. This is our state, not theirs. Don’t let them pit us against each other.
  3. Donate to the book drive. Texas legislators have tried to hide behind their own ignorance for long enough.

Click here if you’d like to read a the text of the SB6 bill itself with plain English annotations.

Click here to find your state rep.

SB6: Action Item Update for Monday, February 27th

Donate to Help Educate Texans on Trans Issues

Throughout history, one of the ongoing struggles we have always faced is overcoming fear of people who are different from us.

Our Texas lawmakers have a long way to go on that front. So Indivisible is helping to raise funds to buy 185 copies of a book called Becoming Nicole, to distribute to each of our Texas state legislators, Lieutenant Governor, and Governor.

The book tells the story of a family with a transgender child, their journey, and the science behind gender.

The book is outstanding, and we hope that it will educate both our elected officials and that Texans will hear about it and read it for themselves. If people actually understand some of what Trans people experience, they surely will oppose SB 6, the bathroom bill.

Don’t let Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and the members of this legislature hide behind their ignorance. Please help us reach our goal.

Donate & Share: Help Texans Learn About Trans Issues

Show up: The books will be distributed as part of Trans Lobby Day on March 6 in Austin. More info here: Trans Lobby Day 2017