flwyd: (earth eyes south america face)
President Trump is expected to sign an executive order today which restricts visas from seven predominantly Muslim countries. I sent the following message to my senators and on the White House's contact page (since apparently the Trump administration has declined to answer the phone when Americans call).

I am a lifelong Colorado resident and I’ve voted in every election since I turned 18. I am writing to express concern over the executive order regarding visas that President Trump is expected to sign today. This order would restrict U.S. entry for people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, and Somalia, even for people who already live in America. I oppose this ban for three reasons: it’s bad for American business, it won’t make us safer, and it hurts families. I urge you to call President Trump and let him know that this order is not consistent with the values of America or our people.

Life in all of those countries has been quite challenging in recent years and many folks have decided to seek a better life in America. Many of the people who have fled are highly educated and have been making valuable contributions to the American economy as scientists, engineers, doctors, and more. From Iran in particular the United States has benefitted from over three decades of contributions from expats. Several highly skilled Iranians have helped my company deliver billions of dollars of value in the American economy.

This policy would not make America any safer. In the list of terrorist attacks in the U.S. on Wikipedia the only perpetrators I found connected to those countries were two by ethnic Somalis and one Yemeni man; all three cases had small impact. Meanwhile, the 9/11 attackers were predominantly from Saudi Arabia, which is not covered by this ban. The people who emigrate to the U.S. are typically opposed to these countries’ governments and are seeking a more stable life than the chaos at home.

Finally, this order would hurt families. Folks living in America–many of them U.S. citizens–would be unable to visit their families or have family members visit the U.S. This could break up marriages, strand children, and keep Americans from attending family weddings and funerals.
flwyd: (1895 USA map)
I am a lifelong Colorado resident. My grandfather represented the San Luis Valley in the legislature in the 1950s and my great grandfather gave the first sermon on Pike’s Peak. I have voted in every election since I turned 18.

I am writing you on the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to express support for immigrants and disenfranchised citizens and because I am concerned about the political tone in the United States. Dr. King expressed a dream, based in the ideals set forth in the founding documents of our nation, that everyone in America would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. And while major strides were made in the second half of the 20th Century, this dream often seems a long way off. The president elect and many other prominent voices have proposed a vision for America which seeks to deny the American dream based on demographics, denying people the chance to prove their inherent worth.

America has been built by half a millennium of immigrants, creating wealth and innovation like the world has never seen. The first of my ancestors to arrive came from England in the 1600s; the last arrived from Norway and Wales near the end of the 19th Century to farm and mine in America, working hard to support their families and, in the process, helping America grow. Today’s generation of immigrants contributes immeasurably to American society and the United States economy, from migrant farm workers to the CEO of Google.

Mr. Trump and many other prominent voices have tried to foment xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment for political gain. Mr. Trump has proposed signaling out members of specific religious groups for enhanced government surveillance, building a fence to rival the Great Wall of China at a cost around 40 billion dollars, and deporting children (future American entrepreneurs and laborers) for whom the United States is the only home they’ve ever known. This plan not only goes against the American values that Martin Luther King elucidated, it also works against our economic interest. For the U.S. economy to thrive in the coming generations, the country must grow. The native-born American population is aging and shrinking. Immigrants tend to be young and work hard, filling important roles, spending money in the American economy, and fueling job growth. The United States risks an economic and budgetary crisis as our population ages if we do not welcome the innovation and determination of immigrants seeking the American dream, fleeing war and economic despair abroad, just as immigrants have done for the last four centuries.

As my voice in Washington, I call on you to speak out, both privately and publicly, when Mr. Trump, his associates, and other members of the political establishment make judgments of people based on the skin color, national origin, gender, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation. Furthermore, I urge you to sponsor and vote for legislation which reforms the U.S. immigration system, paving a path to citizen ships and creating an egalitarian and welcoming nation. I also urge you to take action to stop discriminatory policing, reform racially biased sentencing guidelines, ensure equal pay for equal work, and end government interference in people’s selection of restrooms.

Thank you for your service to our country,
Trevor Stone
flwyd: (transparent ribbon for government accoun)
Two things of significance happened in the vicinity of Federal and Colfax on Thursday. The best attended and covered was Barack Obama's acceptance speech of the presidential nomination for the Democratic Party. I saw portions of the speech in a restaurant with the sound off, but intend to listen to it in full soon. Ten hours or so before Obama took the stage at Mile High, a few thousand immigrants rights supporters gathered for a march. The police and media presence was lower than at the stadium and lower than at the Recreate 68 marches, but the participants were just as energized. The organizers had set up their own security team to keep folks inside the boundaries of the parade route -- a more friendly rapport than cops with guns and body armor.

Before the march, Aztec dancers honored the directions and some folks gave speeches. Boxes of bilingual red and white signs were distributed. Attendance seemed around two thirds Hispanic with a few Asians and African-Americans and a fair number of familiar activist faces from earlier in the week. The Backbone Campaign brought the Organic Farmer and Free Trade Coffee puppets and the 14-foot inflated Statue of Liberty. Marchers included a few kids in strollers and some elders, but the majority were in their teens through forties or so. There were several large banners and plenty of home made signs to compliment the ubiquitous printed red signs.

The march ended in a park and the Aztecs drummed and danced some more before a variety of speakers took the stage while Food Not Bombs gave out free burritos and a few organizations distributed literature. Starting the march in shade around 10 and ending in shade around 11 felt great. The messages were on the whole quite positive: Support for immigrants as people, keeping families together (and thereby opposing ICE raids), and recognition of immigrants as a key strength in the U.S. economy. There was stronger overt support for Obama than in the radical left marches earlier in the week with several rounds of "Sí Se Puede." Given the anti-immigrant vitriol on cable news, I was surprised to only see one counter-protester and that was at the bus stop after I left the speeches.

After the march I returned home to rest my blistered feet, sort through photos, and hang out with [livejournal.com profile] mollybzz and a new friend. I had a great week, took lots of great photos, met some swell people, and got my RDA of exercise through walking. It was good to relax, take a shower, and enjoy the quiet atmosphere of a coffee shop. I wish luck to the folks hoping to spread their message outside the RNC.

Some shouts out for the week:
  • Food Not Bombs for keeping activists, homeless folks, and fed and creating a shady and relaxed atmosphere to hang out
  • Code Pink for being fabulous, ubiquitous, and on-message all over downtown
  • The Backbone Campaign for creating great street art and presenting a positive message
  • The many groups who organized the immigrants rights march
  • Iraq Veterans Against the War for using their socially-granted status of respect to stand for peace
  • Alliance for Real Democracy for embracing nonviolence and for not naming themselves after a year when a lot of bad stuff happened
  • Street medics for making sure everyone had sunscreen and being ready in case anyone had a problem
  • Police officers assigned to march duty for gently keeping folks in the parade route and not doing anything that would escalate into conflict
  • Citizens of Denver who independently shared their own political or amusing messages
  • Homeless guys who hung around downtown so that visitors could encounter some of Denver's normal flavor
  • National Lawyers Guild for keeping an eye on the cops
I hope these blog entries have proved informative and enjoyable. I haven't seen any mainstream media coverage of the DNC, so I don't know how extensively they covered what was going on outside. My big colorful hat got me at least six short interviews, but I couldn't even find the section of the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News the interviewers said they were from. I'm far from an unbiased source, but my goal has been to share whatever messages folks on the streets have, whether I agree with them or not. My photos of the DNC are all free for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. In 1968, gathering tens of thousands of people in the streets was a fairly effective way to share information. In 2008, the Internet has made information dissemination easy; everyone who shows up in a march already knows all about the issues. We cal all be the media.
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