Grassroots Leadership Blog

Did you know formerly incarcerated people fought back (and won) in Texas? You should

After long battles in both the Texas Capitol and Austin City Council, formerly incarcerated people and their allies won a major victory for Fair Chance Hiring here in 2017. We celebrate this victory as a landmark event for the people who have been dehumanized by incarceration to advocate for their rights and to be seen and hired by employers for who they are.

The Fair Chance movement is a nationwide campaign to end employment discrimination in the hiring process, and to restore civil rights in our society. The Fair Chance process requires employers to consider candidates on their merit prior to asking about criminal convictions, moving the background check to the end of the hiring process. This ordinance is the only one of its kind in the South, and took effect in Austin on April 4, 2016.

Legal employment discrimination against individuals with an arrest and/or conviction history is far reaching, and disproportionately harms the poor and communities of color. In Texas, despite making up only 12.5% of the population, African Americans account for nearly 35% of individuals locked up in Texas prisons, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Gainful employment is one of the most critical steps to prevent recidivism. Read more about Did you know formerly incarcerated people fought back (and won) in Texas? You should

Don’t believe anyone who tells you crime rates call for more policing and jailing

Chris Harris at a press conference demanding an end to the meet and confer negotiations with the Austin Police Association on August 8, 2017.

The FBI has released its annual report on crime data in the U.S. for the year 2016 and the primary findings include an overall decline in crime for the 15th year in a row, a decline in property crime for the 14th consecutive year, but an increase in the violent crime rate nationally for the second straight year. In response, we must support continued decarceration efforts and reject any calls to return to the insidious policies that lead to mass incarceration and over-policing, which overwhelmingly prey on people of color and contradict a growing body of evidence that decarceration and less policing make us safer.

Despite the uptick in violent crime since 2014, we are still in the midst of a remarkable long-term decline in both violent and property crime at the national level. A deeper dive into the numbers from 2016 once again show violence, particularly homicides, heavily concentrated in a few neighborhoods in some of the biggest major cities. Preliminary analysis of the 2017 crime stats shows that violent crime will decrease once again, signaling that we are not at the beginning of an upward swing.

The current downward trend in national crime rates has coincided, since 2007, with concerted efforts by most states to reduce prison populations. Nationally, the crime and incarceration rate fell together from 2008 to 2014. From 2010 to 2015, the 10 states that cut imprisonment the most saw crime fall almost twice as much as the 10 states with the most growth in imprisonment. As the author of a major new review of incarceration studies found, “...the cost-benefit case for decarceration is a no-brainer: all benefit and no cost.” Read more about Don’t believe anyone who tells you crime rates call for more policing and jailing

One month campaign update for Alirio Gámez in Sanctuary in Austin

"Me siento muy contento y agradecido por toda la gente que me está apoyando mucho. Sinceramente les digo que no puedo regresar a mi país, porque el momento que regreso, estoy en riesgo de perder mi vida. Esta petición de nuestra campaña es importante para parar mi deportación." - Alirio Gámez, Oct. 3, 2017

Read more about One month campaign update for Alirio Gámez in Sanctuary in Austin>

We can not accept any DACA deal that includes more detention and deportation

Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, speaking at the University Leadership Initiative press conference on September 5 to respond to news that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session announced the end of the DACA program.

I remain heartened by the defiant response of our community here in Austin to the ending of DACA. We’ve been standing with University Leadership Initiative, with United We Dream, and with undocumented students who have DACA and who don’t have DACA, for years. We’re outraged by the actions of bullies like Donald Trump, Ken Paxton, Jeff Sessions, Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick who have tried to terrorize these communities for months now. Read more about We can not accept any DACA deal that includes more detention and deportation

We welcome Norma Itzel Salas to the Grassroots Leadership team

Grassroots Leadership is pleased to welcome Norma Itzel Salas as our new Immigration Social Work and Advocacy Intern. Itzel is a current student at St. Edward’s University finishing her last semester this December with a Bachelor’s in Social Work. 

Itzel has volunteered around Austin with different organizations such as Casa Marianella, has spoken to Senator Eddie Lucio about how to advocate for immigrant rights, is now part of our Grassroots Leadership team! She has a passion for immigration law and policy.  Read more about We welcome Norma Itzel Salas to the Grassroots Leadership team

ICE Muéstranos Tus Papeles: Acción en San Antonio

El pasado martes, 12 de Septiembre, Grassroots Leadership, RAICES, Austin Sanctuary Network, Movimento Cosecha, entre otros compañeros locales, se unieron a los defensores de inmigrantes en todo el país para exigir responsabilidad de ICE en San Antonio, TX. Las acciones nacionales coordinadas fueron en respuesta a las mega-incursiones planeadas por el ICE durante el mes de septiembre. Read more about ICE Muéstranos Tus Papeles: Acción en San Antonio

No Podemos Aceptar Ningún Trato con DACA que Incluya más Deportaciones y Detención

Bob Libal, director ejecutivo de Grassroots Leadership durante la conferencia de prensa de University Initiative el 5 de Septiembre para responder sobre las noticias que el Fiscal General de los Estados Unidos, Jeff Session, anunciara el fin del programa

Me siento alentado por la respuesta feroz de nuestra comunidad aquí en Austin sobre la terminación del programa DACA.  Hemos estado a lado de University Initiative, con United We Dream, y con los estudiantes indocumentados que tienen DACA y que no tienen DACA, durante años. Estamos verdaderamente indignados por las acciones de matones como Donald Trump, Ken Paxton, Jeff Sessions, Greg Abbott y Dan Patrick que han tratado de aterrorizar a estas comunidades durante meses. Read more about No Podemos Aceptar Ningún Trato con DACA que Incluya más Deportaciones y Detención

ICE Show Us Your Papers: Action in San Antonio for ICE Accountability

On Tuesday in San Antonio, Grassroots Leadership, RAICES, the Austin Sanctuary Network, Movimento Cosecha, and local partners joined with immigrant advocates across the nation to demand accountability from ICE. The coordinated national actions were in response to ICE’s planned mega-raids during the month of September. Read more about ICE Show Us Your Papers: Action in San Antonio for ICE Accountability

Grassroots Welcomes Chris Harris

Grassroots Leadership is pleased to welcome Chris Harris to the team as a Data Analyst & Campaigns Coordinator! Chris has been contracting with Grassroots Leadership since January, assisting with everything from software consulting to data analysis to event organizing. We are pleased to now welcome him aboard in a full-time capacity where he will help coordinate local criminal justice campaigns, in addition to policy and data analysis. Read more about Grassroots Welcomes Chris Harris

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