Oct 1, 2017

Immigrants' Rights Groups Confront Fear And Confusion After Latest 'Sanctuary Cities' Ruling

"Bob Libal, executive director of the immigrants’ rights group Grassroots Leadership, said the constant fear of being deported can have an effect on peoples’ mental health. The Austin Police Department has had a verbal policy that officers will ask about a person's immigration status only if it's pertinent to the case – for example, in a case of human trafficking. Monday’s ruling didn't change the department's procedures very much. Officers will now track when and why they ask about immigration status. Libal said the fear of interacting with anyone who resembles law enforcement can also compromise physical health. 'During the immigration raids here in February,' he says, 'we saw things like declines in attendance at school, declines in people accepting rides in ambulances.'"
Sep 22, 2017
Spectrum News

Immigration rights advocates call deportee's death preventable

Bethany Carson, immigration researcher and organizer at Grassroots Leadership, spoke about APD's unjust arrest of Juan Coronilla-Guerrero for an incident his wife said never happened, and ultimately led to his deportation and death. "ICE is fully aware of the fatal consequences of deportation and still chooses to violently target the most vulnerable people in society for their own profit and political gain," Carson said.

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. [node:read-more:link]

Sep 7, 2017
Austin Monitor

Public Safety Commission Recommends End to Juvenile Curfew

Grassroots Leadership has advocated for years to end the juvenile curfew in Austin that permits police targeting and punishment of youth of color. Following community testimonies during public forums earlier this year, the Austin Public Safety Commission has voted to recommend an end to the curfew that disproportionately targets minority communities. "APD data that shows that 17 percent of curfew tickets have been handed to black youths, who represent only 8 percent of the city population between the ages of 10 and 17."

Houston and Austin join national Night Out for Safety and Liberation for #NOSL17

The #NOSL17 in Austin featured spoken word and rap performances, a cookout, and a community project where we defined together what #SafetyIs for our communities. All Austin event photos by Jaynna Sims.

The Night Out for Safety and Liberation is a national event that seeks to redefine public safety by challenging us to question what #SafetyIs for black, brown, and poor people. Texas Advocates for Justice chapters in Houston and Austin came together for #NOSL17 to imagine, celebrate, and connect. [node:read-more:link]

New report points to racism and longer confinement of African Americans in Travis County Jail

(AUSTIN, Texas) —  On the second anniversary of Sandra Bland’s death in a Waller County Jail, Austin criminal justice and immigrant rights groups and formerly incarcerated Austinites are reacting to a new report from Grassroots Leadership that shows dramatic racial disparities in the Travis County Jail.  Advocates are calling on local officials to act to reduce incarceration rates and racial disparities in the jail.   [node:read-more:link]

VICTORY! Austin becomes the first city in the South to pass a Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance!

Last Thursday night, organizing efforts by a powerful group of formerly incarcerated people and their allies made history by making Austin the first Fair Chance Hiring City in the South! Austin City Council voted 8-2 to pass a Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance — an anti-discrimination policy that moves the background check to the end of the hiring process for most private employers, allowing candidates to be considered based on their merits first, without the stigma of a conviction history. [node:read-more:link]

What you need to know about Fair Chance Hiring in Austin!

In the coming weeks, Austin City Council will be debating a Fair Chance Hiring (FCH) ordinance aimed at eliminating employment discrimination against individuals in Austin with a criminal record. This would be a huge step toward creating a more equitable Austin, strengthening our communities, and dismantling institutional racism in our city.

What exactly is Fair Chance Hiring? [node:read-more:link]

Sep 21, 2015
Austin American-Statesman

Ruling on county’s video-based jail visits questioned

Many jails, including Travis’, have moved in recent years to offering only video-based visitation, in which guests communicate with their incarcerated loved ones through a Skype-like monitor. The new law requires counties to maintain in-person visitation as an option but exempted counties that had already spent a significant amount implementing a video-only system. Travis County, which in 2012 approved a contract with Securus Technologies to add video capabilities to its downtown jail and the correctional complex in Del Valle, was exempted this month.

But the Austin-based nonprofit Grassroots Leadership, which opposes the privatization of prison services, is questioning whether the county should have been granted the exemption because the Securus contract said that the company, not the taxpayers, was on the hook for the program. ...

Lauren Johnson, a criminal justice fellow with Grassroots Leadership, said the group is not contesting whether the law requires in-person visitation at those two facilities but believes it should be made available for inmates who live in the rest of the buildings. ...

“Video is a perfectly reasonable option,” Quong Charles said. “The fact that at Travis County it is the only type of visitation available to anybody — and on top of that, the fact that the county and a for-profit corporation are making money on its usage — we don’t think that that’s kosher. We don’t think that that’s a smart way or a just way.”



Local faith leaders come together to voice support for LGBT activist taking sanctuary in First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin

(AUSTIN, Texas) — At a press conference today, the #LetSulmaStay campaign released a letter with signatures from over 60 active members and leaders of faith communities around the country, saying, “We write today to say that we want Sulma [Franco] to stay. Not only does Sulma not meet ICE priority removal requirements, but by forcing her into sanctuary ICE has ensured that she cannot provide for her own material needs. [node:read-more:link]


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