Posted on July 11, 2019 in Countdown
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2020 Presidential Race Underway
Four years ago, we were overwhelmed trying to report on 17 Republican presidential candidates. But, damn it, the Democrats will not be outdone here, so they’re running… 26 candidates? Oh, two dropped out already? Oh, that’s really nice. Any chance a dozen more could drop out soon, please? There is one super interesting thing about this election though: Israel’s human rights record is part of the conversation. Last month, the New York Times asked all the Democratic candidates to reflect on Israel’s human rights performance, and the responses ranged from "not bad" to "OMG that’s so disappointing!" Elizabeth Warren was one of the candidates who gave a cliché response about negotiations and a two-state solution, but our friends at IfNotNow asked her more directly if she was going to commit to working to end Israel’s occupation, and Warren said yes. We’re encouraging everyone to challenge candidates directly on this issue. And soon enough, we’ll be getting you a full profile of all the candidates on where they stand on our issues. Stay tuned!
The Cens-less Chaos Around the Census
If you’ve been on vacation at any point in the last two weeks, congrats, welcome back, and, wow, you’ve missed a number of census updates. Here’s a quick recap: SCOTUS denied the citizenship question a place on the census; President Trump threw a fit about the decision; the 2020 Census forms went to print without the citizenship question; Trump threw another fit and issued statements disputing whether the status of the question was settled; lower courts held hearings to determine the discrepancy between the president’s statements and that of the DoJ attorneys on the case; the government tried to switch attorneys on the case but the change was denied by the courts; and now the president is planning a press conference TODAY, either to announce an executive order to add an addendum to the already-printed 2020 Census forms or to just give up already (Whew, we did that in one breath). This matters because, as experts have noted, the question would severely depress the count and lead to terrible outcomes on everything that depends on the census, including district apportionment and allocation of over $800 billion in federal funding. It also matters because it’s an example of the White House manipulating evidence and strong-arming the DOJ into doing its bidding so it can undermine democracy as a means of continuing its crusade against immigrants and underrepresented communities. Already, civil rights organizations have promised to challenge any executive order if issued. There are also safe-guard efforts underway in Congress to dampen the impact of the question, if added. The Census Bureau always prepares to fight interference related to the census, but they probably never imagined the meddler would be the President himself. While we collectively await the next curve-ball, this would be a great opportunity to sign up for census updates from #YallaCountMeIn!TWEET THIS
If you turn the Capitol dome upside down you would have the likeness of what Congress has become, a crucible: an oversized, shiny ceramic cup. Peer inside and you will find a roaring-hot inferno of partisan rage. Ok, we are perhaps being dramatic but you understand the point. And the hyper-partisan environment has gotten in the way of good policy. At least on the issue of hate crime data collection and reporting, we are challenging that dynamic. Shortly before the July 4 recess, bipartisan legislation focused on hate crime reporting and data collection was introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The bill is named after Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer, two victims whose murders were prosecuted as hate crimes but not reported in official hate crime statistics. At a time of such intense division, we believe Congress can come together to support a bill that will give us better hate crime statistics and help victims and their communities. We owe it to Khalid, Heather, and hate crime victims everywhere to get this done.TWEET THIS
Detained and Abused
Late last month, Trump’s Twitter feed (the gift that keeps on giving) tipped off the country to immigration raids planned for later that week, which prompted us to post resources and analysis for those who might be impacted. This time, it seems the New York Times was the first to sound the alarm. Hopefully these raids don’t become a regular political tactic in the lead-up to the next election as a means to keep xenophobes clutching their pearls. But we cannot allow these raids to pull attention away from the systematic abuse of people, including children that is occurring in border detention facilities. In February, reports uncovered thousands of complaints of sexual abuse, and more have materialized earlier this week. Such realities have prompted the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to be “deeply shocked” by detention facility conditions. As we wrote in our discussion of raids last month, if we have ever asked ourselves, what would we do if our government committed systematic, widespread human rights violations of choice targeted at already victimized communities, we now know the answer. This cannot be who we’ve become as a country. But this will continue to define us until we do something about it.
The Umpteenth Attack on BDS
You know the story by now: Lawmakers eager to pander to Israel pass unconstitutional bills to suppress the right of American citizens to engage in political boycotts against Israel or its illegal settlements, then the courts strike them down over violations of the First Amendment (as they did in Texas, Arizona and Kansas), and then the pandering lawmakers tweak the bills to make them harder to challenge in court. Well, here we are again, with H.Res. 246, a bill that demonizes the BDS Campaign with a variety of false accusations, but which stops short of prescribing specific punishments for those who engage in boycotts, making it harder to challenge in court. As you can learn in more detail in our full analysis, H.Res. 246 is a ploy to squeeze members of Congress into becoming more active in suppression efforts against Palestinian human rights advocacy, and to isolate advocates for Palestinian human rights, making any contact or engagement with them seem morally wrong and politically toxic. So why is House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel advancing it through committee? Tell him not to.