DSM SURJ Newsletter, 5/3/2020

SURJ meeting Sunday 5/3 via Zoom

Covid-19 advocacy for incarcerated persons


Sunday May 3rd 6:00 pm – no later to 7:00 pm. Meeting on Zoom. We will gather to virtually reconnect after two months of no meetings. Then, we’ll do some advocacy for the release of folks from local jails to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to them and the wider community.  In addition to people being held by local law enforcement, our county jails hold people who have been detained by ICE while their immigration cases are pending.

We are asking our members to write at least one letter to your local officials advocating for the release of persons being held in our local jails who are being held for low-level offenses, are going to be released soon, are in jail awaiting trial but can’t afford bail, or are being detained by ICE, especially those in poor health.

We will be providing talking points along with names and addresses of state and local official recipients.  We hope you can join us! Questions – contact dsmsurj@gmail.com.

Facebook Event – https://www.facebook.com/events/270641344069023/

Donate now: Provide COVID-19 resources to Central Iowa refugee communities

Please consider a donation to the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa (RACI).  Their mission is “To assure a welcoming community for refugees in which they have an equal opportunity to achieve individual growth and prosperity and to fully participate in civic and cultural life and to increase awareness of and access to services, resources and programs so that refugees receive the maximum benefit as they resettle and become participatory citizens in central Iowa.”

They need funds to make videos of updated public health COVID-19 information for non-English speaking and non-literate folks.  The cost is about $50 per video and there are many languages spoken by refugees in central Iowa.  There are no public health funds to support this work.

They do not have a way to donate online, so you will need to mail a check or contact them directly to ask how to donate:
Stephanie Moris, Director
1401 Center Street
Des Moines, IA 50314

SURJ in-person meetings on hold – take action through these educational resources

Currently, SURJ is not meeting in person because of the need for bodily distancing. Keep social solidarity going by taking another step in your journey to better understand the immigrant detention system in the US. Then, take action!  During times of systemic shock like our current circumstances, corporate interests will use the opportunity to strengthen their power and profits. But we have an opportunity to work and advocate for systemic change in the immigration and incarceration systems.

Below is a list of things you can do. SURJ is working with the American Friends Service Committee, Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) and Iowans for Immigrant Freedom (IFIF), an organization based in eastern Iowa that has been working on visitations at the Linn and Hardin county jails. These groups organize to support people detained by ICE in the Polk County jail visitation program for persons detained by ICE. Will you support this work by educating yourself and taking action?

Education resources – choose one or more:

    1. Watch Brave New Films Immigrant Prison Series.
    2. Visit the immigrant rights page at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) website.
    3. Visit the Freedom for Immigrants website to learn about their work.  IFIF and DSM SURJ agree to their values and they provide resources to jail visitation programs and persons detained.
    4. Subscribe to IMM-Print, a publication by and for persons affected by immigrant detention.
    5. Read Detention-101 from the Detention Watch Network.
    6. Read the ACLU-Iowa letter to state agencies regarding the coronavirus crisis and it’s impact on prison populations including persons detained by ICE.
    7. Watch this segment from Democracy Now! On mutual aid to consider new ways of building resilient communities.
    8. Watch this segment from Common Dreams on how powerful interests such as corporations will use this pandemic to increase their power and how we can frame an alternative narrative.

Financial Support – local organizations need our support

    1. Support any of the organizations listed above by going to their donation link.
    2. Support local organizations provided support to persons detained and their families.

Advocacy: Take action

    1. Become part of ACLU-Iowa’s Rapid Response Team to get updates on state legislation related to immigrant rights that you can use to contact legislators.
    2. Freedom for Immigrants, Detention Watch Network, and AFSC all have national campaigns you can participate in.  Find these on their websites.  They provide drafts of letters and talking points.
    3. Reach out to your state legislators to advocate for immigrants in detention, particularly, as it relates to the issues outlined in the ACLU-Iowa letter.

Direct Action

    1. Join the DSM SURJ Immigrant Rights or Education working groups.  Contact dsmsurj@gmail.com for more information.
    2. Contact dsmsurj@gmail.com if you might be interested in being involved in the Jail Visitation program either as a visitor volunteer or as a member of our steering committee.
    3. Volunteer with Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a Des Moines based mutual aid group run by the Central Iowa Democratic Socialists.
    4. Volunteer with Community Support Des Moines, a bi-lingual (Spanish-English) mutual aid group.

May 3: Zoom meeting online (see top of page)

May 17: We will confirm: Education and Immigration working groups (This and every third Sunday). This and ALL third Sundays of the month. Join us to build connections and deepen our commitment to equity in education and immigration justice in Des Moines. Why working groups? Two reasons: 1) We hear from the educational and immigration groups with which we are in relationships of accountability. 2) We set the stage for successful, long-term action as a group. This is your opportunity to plug in deeper with SURJ. Whether you’ve been to many SURJ meetings or this is your first one, you’re invited!

Join us! Newcomers, returnees and longtime participants always welcome. DSM SURJ meetings are the first and third (working group) Sundays of each month, 6-8 pm at Drake University.  Childcare provided. All meetings held at Medbury Honors Lounge at Drake University at 6:00 pm. Park in the Olmsted Center Parking Lot located at 2875 University Avenue.

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