City Council 5-0 on Vote to Support TPS Proclamation

On a chilly November evening residents and immigrant rights activists gathered outside the El Cerrito City Hall for a vigil to support the hundreds of thousands of immigrants at risk of losing their homes, family and work due to Trumps policy to end Temporary Protective Status (TPS). El Cerrito Progressives and the NOR CAL TPS Coalition comprised of labor, church, education and other organizations joined together to rally for the passage of a Proclamation in Support of Protections from Deportation and a path to permanent residency for beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure. The Proclamation passed 5/0. (Readers can find a link to the Proclamation on page 21 of the Agenda Packet here:http://www.el-cerrito.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/5029

During the public meeting, Council members heard from labor organizations including the Contra Costa Central Labor Council and the San Francisco Labor Council, TPS residents with decades of history in our community – describing themselves as workers, homeowners, tax payers and parents. The explained that they came as a result of violence in their own country.

Manuel De la Paz from East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, a local group representing 1,000 TPS holders, told the Council 55,000 TPS holders reside in California and in El Cerrito he identified 10 TPS families with there likely being more. He added that 50% of TPS holders own homes .

A political science professor and a member of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) identified himself as an ex-TPS holder. Now a citizen, married with a son at UC Berkeley, he called the right to TPS a human right. “We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the US policies that committed genocide against Salvadorans” he explained, 100,000 people died during their civil war fueled by U.S. aid.

The final two speakers during public comment included a mother and her daughter fighting to keep their family together. Crista Ramos, 15 years of age, is the main plaintiff in a lawsuit suing Trump for ending TPS. https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-01-11/california-teen-leads-lawsuit-keep-hundreds-thousands-immigrants-us She is one of 10 children from many different countries, suing to maintain TPS to keep her mother from being deported. According to her testimony, without TPS, 250,000 children are in danger of losing their parents. Christina Morales, mother to Crista, came to the US in 1993 when she was 12. She is a homeowner, living now in San Pablo. For the past 10 years, she and her husband volunteer as coaches and manager for two soccer teams in Richmond. She also works as a full time classroom aid for special need students. She told the audience that the law suit is fighting to keep families together. She said, “I don’t want another home. ”

After the testimony, the audience heard Council members respond. Quinto spoke to his own history and said that These people are innocent, they are not criminals.” Ableson stated that she was “proud to see this item on the El Cerrito council agenda and retold her own family immigration story. Council member Lyman concurred with the previous statements. Council member Fadelli said that the proclamation was “easy to pass because its the right thing to do.” Mayor Pardue-Okimoto broke down in tears stating, “….the thought of being separated from my children kills me and I so sympathize with you, and it’s wrong, so wrong. ” In the end she said, “there is always hope…we are going to continue to say we are not going to stand for this kind of hatred. ” (Readers can find a link to the meeting here.https://elcerrito.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=601

Readers who want to support efforts to protect TPS, DACA and DED holders can send letters, emails and calls to both Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris, asking them to enthusiastically work toward the passage of HR 6. known as the Secure Act. The exact language states: This bill cancels and prohibits removal proceedings against certain aliens and provides such aliens with a path toward permanent resident status.https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6

Local Families at Risk for Deportation Without TPS

Join immigrants and their allies in fighting for a pathway to permanent residency for over a million longtime U.S. residents who are at risk of losing their legal status under the Trump administration’s attacks on programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).

The El Cerrito City Council will hear and vote on a proclamation titled “In Support of Protections from Deportation and a Path to Permanent Residency for Beneficiaries of DACA, TPS and DED” at its November 19 meeting in City Council chambers, 10890 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. The meeting begins at 7:00 PM. Read the entire draft proclamation at this pdf link. The City Council’s agenda isn’t available yet, but will appear at this link closer to the date of the meeting, and should include a final draft of the proclamation.

Local community organizations El Cerrito Progressives, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, and NorCal TPS Coalition will hold a rally/vigil outside City Hall before the meeting, from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. Come hear local speakers tell their stories and explain how we can all work to keep families together and our communities intact. El Cerrito Mayor Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto is also slated to speak at the beginning of the rally. Come even if you live outside of El Cerrito! TPS Coalition has been working with several cities on the issue; you can read the Berkeley City Council’s 10/15/19 resolution, “Protect from deportation and a path to permanent residency for beneficiaries of DACA, TPS, and DED,” at this pdf link.  

What you can do now:

Even if you can’t make it to the rally and hearing, both the El Cerrito and Berkeley resolutions include a call to action you can take now!

The resolutions endorse the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6), which the House passed on June 4, 2019, to “provide protections from deportation and offer a well-earned path to permanent residency to hardworking people who have played by the rules for decades.” The Moscow Mitch McConnell-controlled Senate, however, has not acted, so we need to urge Senators Feinstein and Harris to do all they can to get the Senate to pass similar protections and a path to permanent residency, and to take leadership in fighting for protections from deportation and a path to permanent residency.

What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code  is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please do all you can in the Senate to fight for protections from deportation and a path to permanent residency for longtime residents, including pushing for a similar bill to H.R. 6, which the House passed on June 4, 2019. I’m counting on Senator ____ to be a leader in fighting against the Trump administration’s racist anti-immigration policies.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Do you live outside California, or have friends or family in other states? Use this link to find contact info for your Senators: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials. Or call the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121, ask to be transferred to your Senator, and say this:

Hello, my name is ____ and my zip code is _____. Please do all you can in the Senate to fight for protections from deportation and a path to permanent residency for longtime residents, including pushing for a similar bill to H.R. 6, which the House passed on June 4, 2019. I hope Senator ____ will be a leader in fighting against the Trump administration’s racist anti-immigration policies.

Want to learn more? The Berkeley City Council resolution is fully annotated with articles and sources. And for more info about how to get YOUR local city or town government to consider a similar resolution, email Karl Kramer at NorCalTPS@gmail.com 

Originally posted on Indivisible East Bay. Re-posted with permission.

Local Families at Risk for Deportation Without TPS

Join immigrants and their allies in fighting for a pathway to permanent residency for over a million longtime U.S. residents who are at risk of losing their legal status under the Trump administration’s attacks on programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).

The El Cerrito City Council will hear and vote on a proclamation titled “In Support of Protections from Deportation and a Path to Permanent Residency for Beneficiaries of DACA, TPS and DED” at its November 19 meeting in City Council chambers, 10890 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. The meeting begins at 7:00 PM. Read the entire draft proclamation at this pdf link. The City Council’s agenda isn’t available yet, but will appear at this link closer to the date of the meeting, and should include a final draft of the proclamation.

Local community organizations El Cerrito Progressives, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, and NorCal TPS Coalition will hold a rally/vigil outside City Hall before the meeting, from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. Come hear local speakers tell their stories and explain how we can all work to keep families together and our communities intact. El Cerrito Mayor Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto is also slated to speak at the beginning of the rally. Come even if you live outside of El Cerrito! TPS Coalition has been working with several cities on the issue; you can read the Berkeley City Council’s 10/15/19 resolution, “Protect from deportation and a path to permanent residency for beneficiaries of DACA, TPS, and DED,” at this pdf link.  

What you can do now:

Even if you can’t make it to the rally and hearing, both the El Cerrito and Berkeley resolutions include a call to action you can take now!

The resolutions endorse the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6), which the House passed on June 4, 2019, to “provide protections from deportation and offer a well-earned path to permanent residency to hardworking people who have played by the rules for decades.” The Moscow Mitch McConnell-controlled Senate, however, has not acted, so we need to urge Senators Feinstein and Harris to do all they can to get the Senate to pass similar protections and a path to permanent residency, and to take leadership in fighting for protections from deportation and a path to permanent residency.

What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code  is ______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please do all you can in the Senate to fight for protections from deportation and a path to permanent residency for longtime residents, including pushing for a similar bill to H.R. 6, which the House passed on June 4, 2019. I’m counting on Senator ____ to be a leader in fighting against the Trump administration’s racist anti-immigration policies.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

Do you live outside California, or have friends or family in other states? Use this link to find contact info for your Senators: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials. Or call the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121, ask to be transferred to your Senator, and say this:

Hello, my name is ____ and my zip code is _____. Please do all you can in the Senate to fight for protections from deportation and a path to permanent residency for longtime residents, including pushing for a similar bill to H.R. 6, which the House passed on June 4, 2019. I hope Senator ____ will be a leader in fighting against the Trump administration’s racist anti-immigration policies.

Want to learn more? The Berkeley City Council resolution is fully annotated with articles and sources. And for more info about how to get YOUR local city or town government to consider a similar resolution, email Karl Kramer at NorCalTPS@gmail.com 

Originally posted on Indivisible East Bay. Re-posted with permission.

Cookies Not Cages Local Effort Raises $12,000 to help reunite families

When the dialogue on El Cerrito Next Door landed a suggestion for a bake sale to raise money for detainees at West County Detention Center, members of ECP agreed to get involved. Although some thought it was a long shot or at least an effort that might not yield much money, In the end, we raised $10,000 for bonds to support Freedom for Immigrants in 2018. 

This year we wanted to do something again. We sought out an organization doing immigration work locally with a solid reputation. We were deeply affected by the pictures of the young children in cages so we decided to support East Bay Sanctuary Covenant and specifically help the organization fulfill a need for additional legal services for unaccompanied minors in our community. We met them at their offices to discuss our fundraiser and were so impressed by their work and what they were able to do with such limited space and funding. 

They told us that since 2014 EBSC had provided legal assistance to more than 600 unaccompanied children fleeing gang violence, human trafficking, and domestic abuse in their home countries. We also learned that as of January 2019, the apprehensions of unaccompanied minors at the border had increased over 40%. We wanted to help.

The organizers for Baking for Bonds regrouped and recoined the effort: Cookies Not Cages.  We launched our campaign on the 4th of July with a Gofundme followed by monthly bake sales at El Cerrito Plaza and Kensington Farmers Market. Cookies Not Cages set a $10,000 goal. 

Hundreds of cookies, brownies, pies, cakes and breads yielded thousands of dollars!

Once again, we called out the larger community reaching out first to the bakers and sellers that worked with us last year. Immediately we had the bake sales up and running. Almost every sale we sold out! Everything was donation based. We had many generous donors give us $20 and not take a thing. Others used our sale when they were going to a potluck or having visitors over and bought a variety of items. 

The first weekend we made over $1,000 just at the El Cerrito Plaza. And subsequent weekends were just as successful. People really wanted to help.  Our majority-female group raised over $12,000 for EBSC and they were able to increase access to legal services for minors. While we couldn’t change policy, we could make a difference in the lives of those children who are seeking to remain in the community with their family members.

Our brigade of women was from our community (El Cerrito, Kensington, Richmond) and they did us and the community at large proud! And to the men or women who may have been in the kitchen helping out or watching the kids -kudos to you!

We reached out to local businesses and want to give a special shout-out to Ojas Yoga in the EC Plaza. Ojas placed a donation can in their Yoga Studio and helped to spread the word.  And the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley Social Justice Committee hosted a special bake sale that garnered over $500 dollars!

For any of you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed,  think about the ways you can make a difference. The ideas you have can help others that need it now. Then grab some friends and make it happen. We showed that it can work!

El Cerrito PD Unveils Drone Policy, Pushing Back on a Surveillance Ordinance

On October 22nd the El Cerrito Police Department held a public forum on the use of drones by the police department. Sadly it was poorly attended by the public, perhaps because it was advertised as a discussion on Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) operations. Regardless we do appreciate Chief Keith having the public forum because there is nothing to require him to do so.

The police department talked about why they might use drones such as searching for missing persons, photography for crime scene investigations, and pursuit of a suspect for a violent crime to name a few. We had a good discussion on the current language in the policy about using drones for incidents of civil unrest and how that may be defined. The Chief agreed to look for a more specific definition of what he meant by that.  

Chief Paul Keith Introducing Drone policy to a small gathering of community members on Oct. 22nd, 2019

The difference that stood out is that the Police Department wants to have these guidelines be departmental policy rather than an enforceable ordinance. What this means is 

  1. A departmental policy can be changed at any time for any reason without public notice
  2. If there are violations of the policy the department handles them as a human resource issue.

What El Cerrito Progressives and some local civil liberties organizations such as ACLU and Oakland Privacy are asking for is an ordinance. What this provides is

  1. Annual reporting of the use of the devices to council
  2. Council approval with public input of any new devices
  3. Civil remedies if the policy is violated. The civil remedy is what is called a cure and correct which means the city would be notified that they were in violation and asked to fix the problem. If they did not fix the problem it would then go to a judge. This allows for accountability outside of the system.

Essentially what the ordinance does is ask for transparency and accountability in a formalized manner. The issue of trust came up a lot in the meeting. The Police Department feels like the public does and should trust them to do the right thing. What the privacy advocates said is that there can easily be incidents of abuse no matter how well the intentions of the department. Public accountability deters abuse. Right now the policy when amended may be reasonable and something most people can support. That being said, if a staff change occurs or there is a new surveillance item the city wants they can get it with no transparency or public accountability. Right now we have to trust they will do the right thing. 

Sadly as an institution, police departments have not always been shown to be trustworthy. Oakland, Richmond, and Berkeley police departments all have had significant issues with violations of public trust. In addition, both Alameda and Contra Costa County Sheriffs Departments have used surveillance methods in a way that civil liberties organizations object to. (see link at the bottom of the page) While our department is much smaller it does not mean it could not happen here. It is not a matter of trust to us, it is a matter of solid policy guidelines with accountability. Just because we live in a more liberal area does not mean that such violations could not occur. 

We understand that the public is generally exhausted with general political turmoil right now. But this is one of those slippery slopes where if we allow unregulated drones into our community then easily a next step is facial recognition technology which has been banned in Oakland, San Francisco and has a pending ban in Berkeley. We don’t want the line to be drawn at that point when that technology is already purchased as it is in this circumstance. The police purchased the drone a year ago before a policy had been put in place and before any public or council comment.

So what can you do?

  1. Read the policy here and send any feedback to evera@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us.
  2. As of now, Chief Keith is planning on presenting the policy at the December 17th council meeting. We will continue to keep you apprised of this. Follow us on Facebook for updates also.
  3. Email city council members and let them know your thoughts

Mayor Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto rpardueokimoto@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us

Mayor Pro-Tem Greg Lyman glyman@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us

Councilperson Paul Fadeilli pfadelli@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us

Councilperson Janet Abelson jabelson@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us

Councilperson Gabriel Quinto  gquinto@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us

For more information 

Alameda and Contra Costa County Sheriffs Flew Drones Over Protests

El Cerrito Progressives in depth post on the surveillance ordinance

ECPD EXPLORING USE OF DRONES

There is a growing trend in the United States  towards using surveillance technology to cast a broad net over a community to protect public safety rather than developing methods that are more precise.  As a result, we are all subject to the scrutiny of law enforcement agencies regardless of whether or not our activities are against the law. The potential for abuse with this data is undeniable.  A rigorous ordinance can balance the tension between public safety, privacy, and civil liberties. In fact, El Cerrito’s recent process for a body camera policy provides an example of how use policies can be developed prior to implementation and with ample public input. 

We believe El Cerrito should implement a surveillance technology ordinance before obtaining these technologies so that privacy concerns and potential degradation of our civil liberties can be addressed from day one. Right now we know ICE is actively using these technologies to pursue undocumented immigrants. However, the facial recognition technology they are using is against drivers licenses which means most of our information is exposed to this. (1) San Francisco has just passed a ban on all facial recognition technology and other cities are following. (2)

There are many current types of surveillance technologies such as license plate readers, cameras, drones, cell site simulators, and new technologies are being developed every day. Many community members want to develop a policy that allows for public input before any such technologies are adapted by the city. Such a process was used for the body cameras the police wear and it was a great example of a balance between civil liberties and needs of the police. What do you think?

We would like an El Cerrito Ordinance on the use of surveillance technology that includes the following:

  1. Each new surveillance technology shall have a developed policy that is approved by the City Council. This policy shall include a detailed description of what the technology is, how it will be utilized, how, when, why, and with whom data will be shared, and what the data storage policy will be. 
  1. Any surveillance technology used by law enforcement shall be held to a high standard of public accountability.  An annual report of how data is being collected and used shall be shared with the community. This report shall include what equipment was used, how it was used, and how effective it was in preventing or solving a crime. 
  1. Any surveillance data collected shall have stated requirements for how long data can be stored, and how it will be stored.  
  1. El Cerrito Police Department will develop strict guidelines for how information is shared will other law enforcement/government agencies. Information will never be shared with ICE.
  1. No contract for surveillance technology shall be entered into with any agency that shares their data with ICE (such as Vigilant). 
  1. A process shall be established to enable citizens to know if their data has been collected. 

We believe there can be a balance between the use of technology for crime protection and protection of civil liberties. Join us if you would like to see a reasonable policy that protects our privacy.

Links to Articles:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/07/07/fbi-ice-find-state-drivers-license-photos-are-gold-mine-facial-recognition-searches/?utm_term=.4df8b56d0acc

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/14/us/facial-recognition-ban-san-francisco.html

 

ECPD EXPLORING USE OF DRONES

The article below is a reprint of a previous ECP post and relevant to the public meeting being called for by the El Cerrito Police Department.

There is a growing trend in the United States  towards using surveillance technology to cast a broad net over a community to protect public safety rather than developing methods that are more precise.  As a result, we are all subject to the scrutiny of law enforcement agencies regardless of whether or not our activities are against the law. The potential for abuse with this data is undeniable.  A rigorous ordinance can balance the tension between public safety, privacy, and civil liberties. In fact, El Cerrito’s recent process for a body camera policy provides an example of how use policies can be developed prior to implementation and with ample public input. 

We believe El Cerrito should implement a surveillance technology ordinance before obtaining these technologies so that privacy concerns and potential degradation of our civil liberties can be addressed from day one. Right now we know ICE is actively using these technologies to pursue undocumented immigrants. However, the facial recognition technology they are using is against drivers licenses which means most of our information is exposed to this. (1) San Francisco has just passed a ban on all facial recognition technology and other cities are following. (2)

There are many current types of surveillance technologies such as license plate readers, cameras, drones, cell site simulators, and new technologies are being developed every day. Many community members want to develop a policy that allows for public input before any such technologies are adapted by the city. Such a process was used for the body cameras the police wear and it was a great example of a balance between civil liberties and needs of the police. What do you think?

We would like an El Cerrito Ordinance on the use of surveillance technology that includes the following:

  1. Each new surveillance technology shall have a developed policy that is approved by the City Council. This policy shall include a detailed description of what the technology is, how it will be utilized, how, when, why, and with whom data will be shared, and what the data storage policy will be. 
  1. Any surveillance technology used by law enforcement shall be held to a high standard of public accountability.  An annual report of how data is being collected and used shall be shared with the community. This report shall include what equipment was used, how it was used, and how effective it was in preventing or solving a crime. 
  1. Any surveillance data collected shall have stated requirements for how long data can be stored, and how it will be stored.  
  1. El Cerrito Police Department will develop strict guidelines for how information is shared will other law enforcement/government agencies. Information will never be shared with ICE.
  1. No contract for surveillance technology shall be entered into with any agency that shares their data with ICE (such as Vigilant). 
  1. A process shall be established to enable citizens to know if their data has been collected. 

We believe there can be a balance between the use of technology for crime protection and protection of civil liberties. Join us if you would like to see a reasonable policy that protects our privacy.

Links to Articles:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/07/07/fbi-ice-find-state-drivers-license-photos-are-gold-mine-facial-recognition-searches/?utm_term=.4df8b56d0acc

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/14/us/facial-recognition-ban-san-francisco.html