Bring It Home: August 2019

Remember, the gun doesn’t pull the trigger” – President Donald Trump

Well that didn’t take long. Less than 3 weeks after President Trump signaled his support for “very meaningful background checks” in the wake of two horrific mass shootings, he’s already started to walk things back.

It’s hard to stay outraged, and yet impossible not to be. But we’ve been here before. And before that. And, well you know. It’s the song that never ends. 

The vast majority of Americans, including Republicans want changes. In a recently released Fox News poll 90 percent of voters surveyed favor universal background checks. 81 percent support “red flag” laws to remove guns from people identified as dangerous to themselves or others. What’s more, 67 percent, nearly two thirds of voters surveyed favor banning assault style rifles and other semi-automatic weapons.

Read the entire poll here: Fox News poll results

With numbers like that, it’s time to put the pressure on our elected officials. Call your senators today and let them hear your frustration! Also, Moms Demand groups are expanding all over the country. There were demonstrations last weekend in every state in the country. You don’t have to be a mom to join. Let’s continue to raise our voices and awareness around this national crisis of gun violence. 

https://momsdemandaction.org/act/

“I need my dad. He’s not a criminal.”

Just days after Mexicans were targeted in the El Paso massacre, nearly 700 migrant workers were rounded up by ICE agents in Mississippi. Worse still, it was the first day of school. Who could forget the sobs coming from the 11 year-old girl begging for her father’s release.

Top members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are demanding an investigation. The lawmakers sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security blasting the raids and looking for answers. They said the timing of the raids left the community in chaos and put children at risk by not notifying the school district. 

Led by Chairman Joaquin Castro, the group is demanding details of how much the raids cost and the source of funding for them.

“Let’s be clear: ICE raids of this scale are not conducted for the purpose of immigration enforcement, they’re to strike fear in our communities in a time when Latinos are already living in terror. These workplace raids decimate communities and target law-abiding immigrants who are just trying to earn an honest living, Castro said.

There is also the matter of the businesses who employed those workers. To date no charges have been filed against them.

“A major step in the wrong direction.”

It brought back the bald eagle and the grizzly bear, but now the Trump administration is making sweeping changes to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

At a time when climate change has already put millions of species on a path to extinction environmental groups say this will put even more animal and plant species in danger. In Florida, the Key Deer is one of the species experts say will be at risk with the new rules.

The changes have been pushed by the fossil fuel industry for years. Additionally, climate change will not be allowed to be used as criteria for protection. The Sierra Club is among groups who promise to sue to stop the new rules.

“Undermining this popular and successful law is a major step in the wrong direction as we face the increasing challenges of climate change and its effects on wildlife. The Endangered Species Act works; our communities– both natural and human– have reaped the benefits. This safety net must be preserved.” — Lena Moffitt, Our Wild America Campaign Senior Director, Sierra Club

“We are in the midst of an unprecedented extinction crisis, yet the Trump Administration is steamrolling our most effective wildlife protection law. This Administration seems set on damaging fragile ecosystems by prioritizing industry interests over science. We intend to fight these regulatory rollbacks so that we can preserve the natural world for generations to come.” — Rebecca Riley, Legal Director of the Nature Program, Natural Resources Defense Council

What can be done? On so many of these issues, it’s critically important to call your representatives and let them know how you feel. Ultimately we have to put people in office who care about the values the majority of Floridians hold dear.

Please consider joining our efforts at Bring It Home Florida to register and engage a million new voters before the 2020 election.

Let us hear from you!

Upcoming Events

The Longest Table – Educational Session for Lawmakers, Attorneys, and Law Students (Orlando, FL)

Partners: Latino Justice, VoteRiders

On September 25, 2019 

Orlando, FL

El Summit (Orlando, FL)

Partners: For Our Future, VoteRiders, Alianza For Progress, Puerto Rico Diaspora, Latino Justice, Hispanic Federation, La Mesa Boricua, PoderLatinx, Mission Boricua, and Faith In Florida.

On October 19, 2019 from 9 AM to 5 PM 

Location: The Hispanic Federation, 1650 Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL

Bring It Home: July 2019

Witnessing Homestead 

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.

Another Opportunity 

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.”

Click here to learn more about the initiative We Got The Vote.

The ACLU has also filed suit to challenge DeSantis’ actions. To learn more click here.

Something New!

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: 

  1. 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? 
  2. Post on any social media platform and tag us: @BringItHomeFL
  3. Be sure to use #PeopleWhoBringItHome hashtag
  4. Email us to let us know that you’ve participated: [email protected]
  5. Tag 3 of your friends and challenge them to do the same. 
  6. 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!


Volunteer Spotlight 

Name:  Eli Logan

County:  Brevard 

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. 

Newsletter: April 2019

Welcome to our Bring It Home Florida Newsletter!

This is no time to be on the sidelines. We may be in between election cycles, but this is the season where grassroots once planted can take hold. If we want to return our democracy to the people, we haven’t a moment to waste.

I’m new to grassroots organizing. As a long-time journalist, taking a stand wasn’t my job. Then I got breast cancer, not once but three times. I found out first-hand what it’s like to have a mountain of medical bills, even with insurance. I met people choosing between life-saving medicines and putting food on the table for their families. It changed me and I knew I needed to use my voice in a new way.

Maybe, like me, your passion is healthcare. Maybe it’s education or gun violence or climate change. Maybe you just can’t stand the thought of your kids growing up in a world where empathy seems absent. Your voice is needed too.

Our mission at Bring it Home Florida is to use what fuels each of us to engage more of us.

We’re glad you’re here. We have big goals and with your help we’ll reach them.

Donna Deegan

Editor

Register, Engage, Win!

The call to action came on March 20th. Hundreds gathered in Miami Gardens to hear what former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum was planning.

“We were in the trenches for him. We fought for him and we’ll follow whatever he does next,” said long-time supporter Alice McCullough.

Few candidates have captured the imagination of the electorate like Gillum.

Florida’s first black Democratic nominee for governor took the state by storm during the primary drawing huge crowds and energizing the progressive movement not only in Florida but around the nation.  In the General, more than 8 million voted, historic numbers for a midterm election. Gillum lost by a fraction of a percent. He knew immediately Democrats had to do more than turn out their voters, they had to have more of them. That night in Miami, he threw out a challenge. An audacious goal that, if reached, would be game changing.

“We are going to commit ourselves to registering and engaging one million new voters between now and next year’s 2020 general election.” Gillum announced to cheers from the crowd.

Gillum committed his PAC, Forward Florida to the task and several partners have joined forces. They include New Florida Majority, Organize Florida, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Dream Defenders, United Teachers of Dade, and, of course, Bring It Home Florida. If you’d like to learn how to register voters, or you have a group that would like to join in, you can learn more here.

The Longest Table

Registering a million voters could alter the landscape of Florida politics, but it’s only part of the path forward. Engaging those voters and hearing their voices is critical.

Taking a page from one of Mayor Gillum’s initiatives in Tallahassee, Bring it Home Florida is organizing a series of group discussions called The Longest Table. This initiative is about engaging your peers, neighbors and new friends to strengthen relationships and have meaningful conversation. Find an event near you and if there isn’t one, consider starting one in your community.

Volunteer Leader Spotlight

In each month’s newsletter we’re going to introduce you to a member of our Bring It Home Florida family. This month takes us to deep red St. Johns County where Robbin Bray has helped make incredible inroads for progressives. Robbin will be hosting The Longest Table event in that community.

Name:  Robbin Bray

County: St. Johns

What brought you to grassroots organizing?

I became interested in grassroots organizing when I realized just voting in the main elections were not enough.  There were many decisions being made at the local, state and national levels that I did not think were appropriate.  But, because I was sitting on the sidelines thinking other people would take care of everything, I was too complacent.  The 2016 elections jolted me into the realization that I had to be a part of the process or I could not complain about the outcomes.  

What do you do when you aren’t working on this?

When I am not working on politics, I am very active in my children’s school and their activities.  I chair or co-chair fundraisers for various nonprofits.  I also serve on the Board of a few organizations that are not politically leaning.  I am active in my church and in my neighborhood.  Professionally I am a Nurse Educator and currently teach in a small school of nursing.  

Who or what inspires you to keep going?

My children inspire me to work towards creating a fairer and more equitable society.  My husband, although he is not politically inclined, has a strong sense of community service and always wants to help others.  Since they are very young and he works way too much, I see myself as an extension of what they would be doing if they could.

Tell us one thing people don’t know about you and one thing everyone knows about you?

I’m such an open book so this is a hard question. One thing people don’t know about me is that my favorite type of music is classical and I would rather attend a symphony than any other concert. One thing everyone knows about me is that I have a wild sense of humor and I am adventurous enough to try almost anything…once.

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