From Bring It Home Florida Newsletter Editor: Donna Deegan
The last time I visited Homestead, Florida was in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The scene was pure devastation. Power lines down, electricity out. Roads littered with the debris of shattered homes and trees making it difficult to get ice, water, food and other supplies to the victims. It was a hellscape. I remember thinking this didn’t look like civilization. It didn’t look like America.
Last week, I had the very same feeling as I visited Homestead again, at what is now a for profit detention center for migrant children. Most of these children come across the border seeking asylum with either a parent or family member only to be separated and put into cages. They make the long journey to America to flee extreme violence. They risk their lives in hopes that they won’t be kidnapped and forced to join a gang or be sexually abused. They come here believing they will be given a lifeline, a chance.
Instead they are subjected to emotional abuse and physical neglect, pried from the arms of the only people they know.
These children are given two chances per week to reach their loved ones. If they don’t get through, they don’t speak. They describe a cold environment where they are not allowed to touch or hug. They have only moments to shower and eat. They must ask permission to use the bathroom and in all of these cases must be watched by an adult. Some are profoundly depressed.
The day I visited there were dozens of people gathered at the gates to the facility. We were not allowed in but we could stand on ladders so the children could see us. People waved signs and hearts and shouted words of encouragement.
“Los veremos, los queremos.” We see you, we love you.
Alicia Thomas came from across the state and stood on a ladder for hours. She told me it’s time to give these children their dignity back.
Ken Barns from New Hampshire has been coming here on and off for weeks to show the children that they have support on the outside.
We could see some of the children waving back as they were marched across the yard, single file in bright orange hats. Almost 3000 are being held here with no idea when or if they will see their families again. It was heart-wrenching to witness but I needed to see it. Another kind of hellscape in a place that sure doesn’t look like America. But unlike a natural disaster, this doesn’t have to happen.
Bring It Home Florida is committed to using our voices to change these policies. Executive Director Millie Rafael says demonstrations like the one at Homestead are just the start.
“While it’s important for us to continue to show up and voice our outrage at this administration’s abusive policy of separating families at the border and keeping children imprisoned in inhumane conditions, it’s even more important to assert these concerns to our elected officials at all levels. We also must remember that sometimes the only way we can be heard is at the ballot box, and that all the protests and rallies will accomplish nothing if we do not show up to vote and encourage everyone in our community to do the same.”
We have a plan to register, engage, educate and motivate over a half-million Floridians by:
- More efficiently identifying eligible and unengaged voters using cutting edge data analytics and in-depth precinct analysis
- Targeting counties that have a significant gap in registered voters of color compared to population of voting-eligible people of color
- Targeting rural communities often overlooked by conventional outreach campaigns due to population density or demographics
- Providing education on the processes of voting and civic engagement
- Increasing low-propensity voter turnout and engagement through layered outreach activities reaching wide cross-sections of voters
With your help, we’ll get it done. Click here to learn more about voter registration training or how you can get involved.
If you’d like to raise your voice to end these inhumane camps, there will be demonstrations around the country on Friday July 12th. Visit www.lightsforliberty for information about events happening in your area.
A Poll Tax Pure and Simple
Floridians made their voices heard. Nearly 65 percent approved Amendment 4, creating a constitutional guarantee that former felons who have served their time can return to the voter rolls.
But last week Governor Ron DeSantis silenced those voices. With the stroke of a pen he rolled back Amendment 4 and created a modern-day poll tax for returning citizens.
Mayor Andrew Gillum, who narrowly lost to DeSantis in the Florida Governor’s race, took to twitter to encourage voters to fight back.
Mayor Gillum said research from The Brennan Center shows 44% of those newly registering were black even though the overall share of black voters in Florida is 13%. He said the new law is aimed at restricting those black voters. A poll tax, pure and simple.
“While it sickens me to make this ask, we have work to do,” he said.” I’ll be personally supporting Desmond Meade and his organization’s effort to help pay fines and fees of returning citizens, and I hope you will too.”
The ACLU has also filed suit to challenge DeSantis’ actions. To learn more click here.
The energy around progressive causes has never been higher, and we want to hear what makes you passionate about them. So, we’re launching something new. Something to help all of us to connect and motivate us to do more. It’s called #PeopleWhoBringItHome
We are people-driven and we want to hear from you!
Here’s what we need from you:
- Record a 15 to 45-second video answering the question: How do I bring it home? — aka what are the issues that matter to you and why, and what are you doing to make an impact?
- Post on any social media platform and tag us: @BringItHomeFL
- Be sure to use #PeopleWhoBringItHome hashtag
- Email us to let us know that you’ve participated: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tag 3 of your friends and challenge them to do the same.
- Most importantly, have fun!
Please share yours on social media with the hashtag #PeopleWhoBringItHome and we’ll share it too!
The Longest Table
In the past month Bring It Home Florida has continued to host The Longest Table in communities around the state. Our goal is to bring more voices into the conversation about the issues important to our communities.
Longest Table events were held in Jacksonville, Kissimmee, and Sunrise. Topics of conversation included voter participation, education, climate change, healthcare, gerrymandering and the census. If you’d like to host The Longest Table in your community, contact us here.
Our next The Longest Table event is in St. Petersburg on Saturday, July 27. Find all the details here!
Name: Eli Logan
What brought you to grassroots organizing?
Waking up on November 9, 2016 with a feeling of impending doom. I knew I had to do something, so I joined my local DEC. Then I met Andrew Gillum and became a super volunteer and helped organize the state’s volunteers for his campaign. Now I sit on the board of Bring It Home Florida and I’m honored to continue engaging and registering voters across the state.
What do you do when you aren’t working on this?
I’m a mom and a nurse practitioner.
Who or what inspires you to keep going?
My daughters. I have three girls and I want this world to be better for them and for future generations.
Tell us one thing people don’t know about you and one thing everybody knows about you.
This may fall into either category, but I started the Andrew Gillum for Governor Facebook group after the first time I met him. It went from about 30 friends that I shoved in there to over 25,000 folks after the primary. We continue to use it to share pertinent information to followers throughout the state.