‘Not On Our Watch’: Rights groups rally to help immigrant communities ahead of reported weekend raids by ICE

By Julia Conley, staff writer

WASHINGTON — Ahead of raids the Trump administration is reportedly set to begin on Sunday, rights groups on Friday urgently circulated information to immigrant communities and families nationwide to ensure their rights are known and protections are in place. 

Three officials with knowledge of Trump’s directive to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told the Washington Post that up to 2,000 families facing deportation orders could be targeted in 10 major cities, including Houston, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Denver, New York, New Orleans, Atlanta, Baltimore, San Francisco, Newark, and Washington, D.C.

The news of the planned raids comes days after the president threatened that he would soon begin deporting “millions” of undocumented immigrants. To prepare communities, groups including United We Dream and Raices posted on social media information about immigrants’ rights. 

If ICE agents come to an immigrant’s home, one infographic made by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) read, he or she should not open the door. Instead, families should demand to see a warrant for arrest and exercise their right to remain silent and speak with a lawyer. 🚨🚨READ🚨🚨: ICE raids targeting families may be happening as soon as this weekend. Miami, LA, Chicago, Baltimore, DC, and NY are possible targets, and there could be more.

Speakers announced for Iowa trans healthcare rally

DES MOINES — One Iowa Action, a LGBTQ advocacy organization, has announced speakers for a June 2 rally for transgender people’s healthcare. Earlier this month, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed HF 766 (the Health and Human Services budget bill) into law, banning the state’s Medicaid from paying for transgender people’s transition-related healthcare. The rally, called Rally for Trans Health Justice, will be at the Iowa State Capitol. One Iowa Action is hosting the event along with the ACLU of Iowa, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, and Transgender Action Group of Iowa. The speakers will be:

Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel (he, him, his), One Iowa Action executive director
Aidan Zingler (they, them, theirs), Transgender Action Group of Iowa organizer
Connie Ryan (she, her, hers), Interfaith Alliance of Iowa executive director
Daniel Zeno (he, him, his), ACLU of Iowa policy director
Alexandra Gray (she, her, hers), local transgender activist
Caity Szalay (she, her, hers), licensed social worker and therapist specialized in working with LGBTQ individuals
Rev. Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz (he, him, his), Trinity Las Americas United Methodist Church lead pastor
Mika Covington (she, her, hers), transgender woman on Medicaid
Keenan Crow (they, them, theirs), One Iowa Action director of policy and advocacy

“At this rally, we will come together as a community at the beginning of Pride month to show our state lawmakers that Iowans support the transgender community,” Hoffman-Zinnel said.

Rally against Iowa’s anti-trans healthcare law on Sunday, June 2

DES MOINES — One Iowa Action, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization, has announced it will host a Rally for Trans Health Justice on Sunday, June 2 from 1-3 p.m. on the Iowa State Capitol grounds in Des Moines

Iowa Gov. Kim Reyonlds, a Republican, signed a bill that bans the state’s Medicaid from paying for transgender people’s transition-related healthcare on May 3. “At this rally, we will come together as a community at the beginning of Pride month to show our state lawmakers that Iowans support the transgender community,” One Iowa Action Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel said in a press release. “All Iowans, including transgender Iowans, deserve access to the medical care their doctors prescribe.”

One Iowa Action will announce rally speakers soon. A link to a Facebook event for the rally can be found here. Individuals or organizations interested in hosting a solidarity rally in another location are encouraged to email action@oneiowa.org.


Iowa Gov. says new anti-transgender Medicaid law isn’t new policy

DES MOINES — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said a law she just signed banning state Medicaid from being used for transition-related healthcare just restates previous state policy. The Gazette of Cedar Rapids reported the Republican’s comments on Tuesday. “This has been the state’s position for decades, through both parties leading this state and both parties leading the Legislature,’ Reynolds said. “And it’s been that way in rules for a long, long time.”

Others disagree. “To be clear, writing discrimination into the Iowa Civil Rights Act directly is not ‘simply a restatement of previous state policy,’ ” political action group One Iowa Action said on their Facebook page on Wednesday.

ActivatePowerIL: Advocacy Day with AIDS Foundation of Chicago, May 14

SPRINGFIELD — The AIDS Foundation of Chicago is hosting an Advocacy Day at the Illinois Statehouse on Tuesday, May 14. From the Facebook event:
Let’s build power through our advocacy! Join us in Springfield for our Advocacy Day on Tuesday, May 14 to #ActivatePowerIL! We need your voices to ensure our legislators continue to support their constituents living with and vulnerable to HIV now! Meet and train with advocates from all over the state to create an impact with elected officials to support sustainable HIV/AIDS services and protect our access to affordable health care.

Rainbow Railroad welcomes new government funding for global LGBTQ human rights groups

OTTAWA — Rainbow Railroad applauded Thursday’s announcement by the federal government of a commitment of $30 million over five years, followed by $10 million per year, for dedicated funding of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) civil society — bolstering Canada’s role in promoting LGBTQI human rights globally. The funding was announced in Ottawa on February 7 from Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development, and Randy Boissonnault, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre and Special Advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on LGBTQ2 issues. “This funding commitment will build the capacity of our partners and networks so they can do their human rights work better — helping LGBTQI people faced with persecution around the world,” said executive director Kimahli Powell. “Though Rainbow Railroad does not receive government funding, it’s essential for LGBTQI activists and funders to join together in solidarity and work together to bring about the change we all want to see in the world.” In more than 70 countries, LGBTQI people face legal challenges, violence and discrimination.

Peoria’s 2019 Women’s March rescheduled for March

PEORIA — The annual Women’s March, planned for this weekend, has been rescheduled because of expected severe winter weather. From the Facebook event:
Time and place remain the same. We will honor International Women’s Day (the day before our event, with a proud history of 110 years) and the month of March as Women’s History Month.

Trevor Project sending 100 copies of ‘Marlon Bundo’ to Second Lady’s anti-LGBTQ school

NEW YORK — On Thursday, the Trevor Project announced that it was sending 100 copies of “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo”, an illustrated children’s book that explores topics of acceptance and marriage equality, to Immanuel Christian School. Multiple media outlets have reported that Karen Pence, VP Mike Pence’s wife, will teach art at Immanuel Christian School. The Trevor Project is one of the largest suicide prevention and crisis organization for LGBTQ young people. “The Trevor Project hears from young people every day about their experiences with rejection at home and school – places where they should feel the safest,” said Amit Paley, CEO and Executive Director of the Trevor Project. “We know that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth from rejecting families are more than eight times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.

Transgender march on Washington to be held March 31-April 1

NEW YORK — Members of the transgender and gender non-conforming communities will take a major stand against hate and discrimination when they rally in the nation’s capital for the first National Trans Visibility March (NTVM) on Washington, D.C., Monday, April 1st. Transgender individuals from major cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Memphis, New York and San Francisco will come together with their allies calling for equal rights, physical safety and demanding the transgender communities be officially and federally recognized across every state department within this great nation. The march is part of a two-day event which will kick off paying homage to transgender individuals with the Torch Awards on Sunday, March 31st immediately followed by a Trans Visibility Ball.  The weekend will close with coordinated marches of solidarity for transgender rights throughout the country. In November 2018, a day of remembrance was held and the upcoming march serves as another way to honor and demand justice for transgender victims of violence.  Transgender people continue to experience high rates of violence, murder, HIV, homelessness, and unemployment. Only by standing together, as trans pioneers such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera did during the Stonewall Riots, will all of the LGBTQA+ communities get access to the same quality of life our cisgender heteronormative counterparts enjoy.