Black Lives Matter Everywhere

Black Lives Matter

This week, we saw SONG family showing up across the South to show, not just tell, that Black lives matter. Today we say thank you to everyone for making Wednesday’s work in Atlanta, in particular, possible!  Several members of SONG’s leadership and membership, the #itsbiggerthanyou crew, and individuals belonging to different organizations led a civil disobedience that challenged our bravery and showed us what is possible when ordinary people answer the call to fight for our collective safety, dignity, and liberation.  We experienced what is possible when Black leadership organizes across gender, sexuality, political lines, and class. Our actions answered a national call for a week of action put out by the network #Blacklivesmatter, whose leadership have exemplified organizing at the intersections to confront state violence. Their work is key in shifting the national conversation as it relates to black queer, trans, and women’s leadership in the fight against state violence.

LGBTQ Organizations Denounce White House’s Broken Promises on Immigration

http://transgenderlawcenter.org/archives/11105

September 15th 2014

After vowing in June that he would take executive action “before the end of the summer” to stop the senseless and inhumane rate of deportations under his administration, President Obama broke his promise this Saturday and delayed any slowing of the deportation machine until after the midterm elections in November.  Joining innumerable immigrant and civil rights organizations, LGBTQ organizations denounce this cynical, political calculation, which at the current rate of 1,100 deportations per day will lead to 70,000 more deportations and a continuation of 34,000 people caged in immigration detention centers every single night. Among these numbers include countless LGBTQ immigrants.

PRESIDENT OBAMA DELAYS PREVIOUSLY PROMISED RELIEF FOR IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES

The daily targeting of undocumented immigrants has not gone without resistance from our communities locally, regionally, and nationally. We have worked on individual deportation cases, shutdown Immigration and Custom Enforcements (ICE) detention centers, taken direct action on Congressional offices, and marched on Washington to stop the brutality of state control over our lives and the lives of our families. We’ve show President Obama and other elected officials that we will not stand for inaction on their parts.

President Obama and Democrats have run on progressive tickets promising our people a change in Washington, but we are sorely disappointed that once again our immigrant communities have become pawns in a political waiting game in the name of the upcoming November elections. The President’s recent announcement, created by pressure from the Democratic Party, to further delay immediate relief for immigrant families (including thousands of LGBTQ undocumented people) from policing, imprisonment, and deportation will only continue to mobilize white nationalist resentment and ensure that our region and our states remain hostile to immigrant communities and communities of color.

​ The White House’s political antics ignore what the uprising in Ferguson has affirmed these past few weeks; there is a deep white supremacist culture embedded in both local policing and national law enforcement agencies like ICE. We know all too well that this culture leads to biased policing and enforcement of communities of color, including LGBTQ people.

Our communities will continue to unite to bring the White House our demands to defend our people and to advocate for ourselves. We commend Tefere Gebre, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President, and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA)  for their decision to boycott meetings with President Obama until he meets directly with undocumented people and urge other advocates to follow this leadership. We know those of us that are directly impacted are best positioned to speak for the relief we need from the issues that affect our communities.

As Pablo Alvarado of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) said, we will not be deterred by a, “politics of fear.” We remain committed to our desire for liberation and will lead our continued fight in the name of the transformation of a South and a country that embraces immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ people in the name of BeLoved community.

SONG Victory over ICE Detainers in Fulton County, Georgia!

IMG_5568The criminalization of LGBTQ people comes in many forms. One form is the profiling, harassment, and arrests of undocumented immigrants. In places all around the South, if you go to the store for groceries and run a stop sign you can be profiled, stopped, and potentially deported, for minor violations. We know this impacts LGBTQ communities of color in a particular way, because we already have high rates of profiling and police harassment just for being LGBTQ and of color.

In Atlanta, GA, SONG has been working with our partners in the Georgia Not1More Coalition to combat this type of criminalization. For months we have been organizing to end the link between local police and the federal agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This linkage allows ICE to use what are known as detainers, or holds, to enter any person profiled and picked up by local law enforcement, regardless of the charges, into deportation proceedings. A ruling by a federal court in Oregon found that these types of arrests lack probable cause and are in violation of the 4th Amendment and other courts have clearly shown that enforcement of detainers by local entities is voluntary.

On September 3rd, Atlanta’s Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted 6 to 0 to pass a resolution urging the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department to no longer enforce ICE detainers. Fulton County, GA, became the second county in the South to pass such a resolution, after Miami-Dade County in Florida. Before voting on the resolution, Futon County commissioners spoke with strong convictions about the underlying racial profiling and the unconstitutionality of ICE detainers.  Commissioner Joan Garner, a SONG founder and one of the sponsors of the resolution, shared some of her reflections after making the decision.

“Sponsoring the resolution was the right thing to do.  I am opposed to any form of discrimination against any person or group.  The practice of holding individuals on an ICE detainer seemed to target a group of people and I had to speak up, and will always speak up, in order to oppose racial profiling and oppression.  Fulton County opposes racial profiling.  Fulton County is concerned when people are held for 48hrs or more and the impact it has on the individual, the community, and the taxpayer.  I encourage the Sheriff to take the impact of ICE detainers into consideration by adhering to the newly passed resolution.”

This victory was made possible by our community and the work of the Georgia Not1More Coalition, co-anchored by SONG and the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR). We must continue out dedication and unity in moving forward to ensure the implementation of this policy to its full extent, the accountability of Fulton County law enforcement, and fight to expand this win to other locales.

Policy wins can be rolled back but cultural change is undeniable. Our communities across the South and the country are fighting back against this type of enforcement because it undermines public safety and is intimately connected to the culture of hyper-policing and targeting of Black communities, LGBTQ communities and poor people. We need your support to continue this work. Please donate to SONG’s work today!

 

Fighting for Queer Trans Relief for Undocumented Immigrants

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Members of SONG, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, The Queer Network, and National Day Laborers Organizing Network. (Photo Courtesy The Queer Network)

Dear SONG members and supporters:

This work is hard. Even though we know our members and our people are the reason for the work and the solution to our problems, on a hard day the best of us can be discouraged. Not today. Today we get to tell you some good news. Most of you know that a few days ago we held a direct action with SONG family and our sister organization, Familia:  Trans Queer Liberation Movement, to demand that the  7 Congressional Equality Caucus Co-Chairs make a statement to President Obama regarding the needs of LGBTQ undocumented immigrants inside his upcoming Executive Order. We told them in our letter (http://southernersonnewground.org/equalitycaucusletter) signed by 23 national LGBTQ groups, that we needed him to provide relief from fear and pain for the largest number possible of the 11 million undocumented people in this country–biological parents of children is not enough–our families and lives are not all the same and all undocumented people need relief. We told them that ICE and police collaborations criminalize our people and open them up to discriminatory practice and double harm. We told them that we cannot wait one more day, while our brothers and sisters are being raped in detention centers, and isolated in solitary confinement, for President Obama to free them from these conditions. Many of our people survive these horrific conditions only to be deported anyway. This afternoon at 3pm, we are going back to the Equality Caucus office to receive the statement that the Equality Caucus Co-Chairs have written at our request.

We know that the direct action of individual SONG members with Familia members was the choice of the individuals who planned it alone. However, your support of our demands (or support of the action itself) meant so much to us. First of all, we heard your individual and collective voices loud and clear: our groups are not alone as LGBTQ groups who care deeply about the critical needs of LGBTQ undocumented people. Y’all also see the bleeding point for our communities: you see the suffering and also the opportunity to fight back–whether you are directly affected or in solidarity with these communities. We are sure without a doubt that your calls on such short notice, sent one message to the Equality Caucus Director and Co-Chairs: we are not sitting here alone, and there are others not afraid to ask the Equality Caucus to do the right thing by LGBTQ undocumented people–not at the convenient time, but now–as our people just cannot wait.
We know for sure that you see what we see–that the criminalization of our communities–poor, LGBTQ, of Color–is literally killing us or robbing us of our joy–and we know you are willing to act from that knowledge, just as we are. We look forward to acting on behalf of that truth much more with you. We look forward to continuing to listen to what you need from us. We hope that you are as proud to be a SONG member today, as we are proud to coordinate your incredible, genuine and hard-working efforts. As proud as we are to support such a trust-worthy and incredible staff. After all, we stand by the belief that this is what the heart of the LGBTQ movement should be about: acting out of love for our people, and being willing to do whatever we can to protect and care for each other–seeing our people’s lives as precious and worth fighting for, even when and if others do not. 
We are proud to work collectively for Queer and Trans Liberation in our lifetime–day by day, action by action, win by win. Our people are worth the risk.
In appreciation,
Paulina Helm-Hernandez and Caitlin Breedlove, SONG Co-Directors