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Stand Up, Speak Out: Town Hall Edition

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Date: Oct 08, 2020

Author: Antonio Saadipour Sellés

The questions at stake in elections are not only about how we live our lives in the United States, but also how our country treats the world. If we want our nation to have a just foreign policy, we need to ask our elected officials and candidates the questions that matter and get the answers we deserve.

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What’s Going On?

The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to rethink how we go about our daily lives—including how we organize politically. Just because events have moved to online platforms does not mean that our presence at them is any less worthwhile. That’s why we have compiled a list of questions you can ask your elected representatives and candidates for the House or Senate at virtual or in-person town halls to understand if and how they will support humane, forward-looking policies towards our Latin American neighbors and compassionate and just immigration policies. And then you can hold them accountable to the promises they make.

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What You Can Do

Town halls are still being held all over the country. Find one happening near you here, or check elected officials’ or candidates’ websites. If you are able, please get a group of friends, family, or colleagues together to attend, each asking no more than one question. Or just attend yourself!

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Suggested Questions

Cuba:

  • The Obama Administration worked hard to rebuild diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba. He was the first President to visit the island since 1928 and gradually rolled back restrictions to allow Cuban-Americans and later on students and faith leaders to travel freely to Cuba. The Trump Administration has reversed course by imposing harsher sanctions, putting caps on remittances, establishing new travel restrictions, and limiting charter flights to Cuba. What will you do in the Congress to help allow U.S. citizens to travel freely to Cuba, and what will you do to encourage the rekindling of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba in order to ease the suffering of Cuban citizens?

Immigration/Asylum Rights:

  1. How will you work to protect TPS and DACA beneficiaries who are at risk of losing their status and what will a pathway to citizenship look like for them?
  2. Do you commit to doing what you can within the Congress to help rescind anti-asylum policies (like Remain in Mexico and the safe third country agreements) and the expulsions that have closed off the border to asylum seekers and denied them protections? How do you plan to work to restore access to protection at the border?
  3. Would you support the bills in the House and Senate to halt all deportations during the pandemic so people, some of them sick with COVID-19, are not deported back to countries with fragile health systems?

Central America:

  1. How will you work in the Congress to help address the roots of forced migration from Central America, including poverty, corruption, and violence? Will you help forge a rights-based foreign policy towards the northern countries of Central America that stands not with corrupt government officials but with the brave civil society activists working for change?

Colombia:

  1. After the signing of the 2016 peace accords, Colombia finally began to put an end to the Western Hemisphere’s longest-running conflict. Yet Colombia still struggles to consolidate peace as seen by the murders of human rights activists and community leaders and instances of police brutality. Will you urge the Colombian government to make good on its commitments to peace—without pouring money into the nation’s security forces?

Brazil: 

  1. President Bolsonaro has rolled back environmental protections for the Amazon, allowing corporations to carry out harmful extractive projects that pose a threat not only to the Amazon but to the indigenous communities that inhabit it as well. In light of the recent record-breaking fires in the Amazon over the last couple of years, how will you work in the Congress to fight this climate crisis and help the vulnerable indigenous communities it endangers?

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The concerns we are raising are vital to any functioning democracy, and it is candidates’ and elected officials’ duty to act on them. Stand up. Speak out. And make them listen.