Our NEXT MEETING is this coming Monday, Feb 10th, 7:00PM, at the Congregational Church, 1180 Great Plain Ave, Needham. An agenda, subject to change, is attached below. (ICYMI: Based on a policy adopted by the Task Force, I am only using first names when attributing information. If you wish to contact any of these individuals, contact me and I’ll supply contact information.)
IN THE STATE HOUSE:
I received the following from Jen: BREAKING NEWS to share with you all! We are excited to announce the Work & Family Mobility Act was reported out of the Transportation Committee favorably on Wednesday, Feb 5th. Now is the time for us to contact our legislators and tell our friends to do so as well. Despite widespread approval by Chiefs of Police, there is still substantial opposition to this bill: H.3012/S.2061, An Act Relative to Work and Family Mobility would enable all qualified state residents to apply for a standard Massachusetts driver’s license, regardless of immigration status, while keeping our Commonwealth in full compliance with REAL ID requirements. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia already have this law on the books. Nine additional states have bills filed in their state legislatures. Rep. Garlick and Sen. Rausch are cosponsors. Sen. Rush is undecided. Please call him at 617-722-1348 to register your thoughts.
The LWV reports: The Senate bill has officially been extended till May 1, and we expect the House bill to follow suit by the end of the day. This is GREAT news, because it allows us time to work with the Public Safety Committee and with all the stakeholders to ensure we get the support we need to get this bill over the finish line this year. I have also learned there is a very good chance of a bill passing this year, but it may not contain all of the proposals contained. Keep those cards and telephone calls coming.
IN THE COMMUNITY:
NEW POLLING LOCATIONS: The Needham Select Board has established new polling locations. See attached “Needham”.
CONTINUING WEDNESDAY WITNESS: WHERE?: First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church, Parlor Room (downstairs, past the double doors, the first room on the left), 23 Dedham Avenue, Needham, MA 02494. Plenty of parking spaces are available, behind the church, in the Great Plain Ave. CVS parking lot.] WHEN? Continuing on Wednesdays, continuing April, 29, 2020 (except Feb. 19 & April 22), we gather indoors for postcard writing to federal, state and local government officials and legislators.))
FEBRUARY 8: Unitarian Universalist Area Church, 11 Washington Street, Sherborn will hold a panel discussion from 9:30am – 2:30pm, on how climate change effects social justice. Panelists will include Susan Church, Immigration Lawyer; Sonja Spears, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program; and Craig Altemose, Founding Executive Director, the Better Future Project. A sliding scale for tickets may be found at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MARCH 12, 7:00PM. The Current State of Immigration. Where: Boston Public Library Main Branch, 700 Boylston Street, Boston (Back Bay), MA 02116 Who: WBUR reporter Shannon Dooling and Mark Hetfield, Executive Director of Hebrew Immigration Aid Society will be the speakers. Mr. Hetfield has a wealth of hands-on experience in placement of refugees.
Free. Registration Requested
MARCH 22: The Needham League of Women Voters is again sponsoring a Civics Bee on Sunday, March 22d. If interested in joining a team from there Task Force, please contact me. Certainly we should be able to field at least one team. Who wants to join me?
NEW TRAVEL BAN: The Trump administration has expanded its highly controversial travel ban to include immigrants from Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria. In addition, Tanzanian and Sudan citizens won’t be outright banned, but they will no longer be able to apply for the green card lottery. Nigerians in particular are furious about the new restrictions. Nigeria boasts Africa’s largest economy and is the most populous country on the continent. It also has strong ties to the US: The two countries have been allies in fighting terrorism and cyber crime in Nigeria, and the US has been Nigeria’s main trading partner for 60 years. The extended ban does not affect tourism, business or student travel, but could make it hard for US citizens to reunite with family living in those countries.
MEXICO A SAFE HARBOR FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS?: Mexico was plagued last year by the most murders the country had seen since records began. A staggering 35,588 murders were recorded by the National Public Safety Secretariat, due in part to a social crisis fueled by turf wars among drug cartels. In some parts of the country, communities have taken to defending themselves against the violence. In the state of Guerrero, which saw 1,891 intentional homicides last year, children as young as 6 are training to defend their neighborhoods as part of a self-defense militia. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has vowed to curb Mexico’s violence problem by addressing the poverty that often leads to gang membership, but he hasn’t yet stemmed the bloodshed.
Dr. Matthew Connelly, professor of history at Columbia University, calls attention in the New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/04/opinion/archives-document-destruction.html?searchResultPosition=6&utm_)to the National Archives’ recent announcement ( https://records-express.blogs.archives.gov/2019/12/17/immigration-and-customs-enforcement-scheduled-approved/?utm_source) ICE can go ahead and start destroying records related to “detainees’ complaints about civil rights violations and shoddy medical care” despite tens of thousands of critical comments and objections from members of Congress. As Connelly writes, “. . . vital information is actually being deleted or destroyed, so that no one – neither the press and government watchdogs today, nor historians tomorrow – will have a chance to see it.” Might be well to send post cards to Acting Secretary, Chad Wolf, 3801 Nebraska Ave NW, Washington, DC 20258
MORE SECRECY: The Nation reports (https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/cbp-security-agency/?utm_) that on February 7th the Trump administration quietly designated the entire Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency as a “Security Agency,” placing CBP under the same designation as highly secretive intelligence and law enforcement agencies like the FBI and Secret Service and granting CBP greater secrecy by exempting certain records from disclosure to the public through FOIA requests and other public disclosures.
I hope to see on Monday evening.