Last night, the Common Ground Steering Committee got together to think, discuss, and start organizing upcoming actions we need to take for our housing and public safety teams. We were happy to see each other, but are really hoping this will be our last Zoom Leaders Meeting! Fingers crossed!
On Tuesday evening, May 5, over 1,200 California IAF leaders, 10 Bishops and 7 state legislators converged on Zoom and Facebook Live to demand the Governor and legislature provide immediate relief for essential workers left out of state and federal relief.
"There are millions of California workers who take care of our elders, our children, grow our food, and get it to the stores. Many of them are undocumented, but their work contributes billions of dollars to the California economy," said Rev. Dr. Julie Roberts-Fronk, Co-Chair of the action and a leader with ICON.
Undocumented immigrants represent 10% of the California workforce, pay over $3 billion in state and local taxes and add $180 billion to the economy. They comprise 33% of agricultural workers and 32% of healthcare workers in California, working at great personal risk during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"During this pandemic, there is a tendency to throw people to the margins, to throw them into the shadows,"said Bishop Jaime Soto, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento.
"What we need to do is develop a culture of encounter, a culture of solidarity to beat back the coronavirus and to create a healthy and safe network. We need to recognize the flaw in the Cal EITC. It leaves out California workers and taxpayers, which not only jeopardizes their lives, it also jeopardizes the well being of the entire state of California."
"Immigrant workers are not draining our economy, they are subsidizing it," said Senator Maria Elena Durazo. "We would not be the fifth largest economy in the world without them."
Earlier this month, the California IAF and the California Catholic Conference wrote letters to Governor Newsom, urging him to expand the California Earned Income Tax Credit (Cal EITC) to include ITIN filers, many of whom are undocumented. The tax credit would put much needed dollars quickly back into the hands of working families. Studies show that for every 1 dollar invested in workers, the local economy generates 2 dollars.
Maria Elena Manzo, a leader with COPA has worked with a group of women in Salinas for many years to spread the word about the Cal EITC.
"When they first learned about the tax credit, they were very excited. One woman said, 'this is going to come at a perfect time, the agricultural season has not started yet and we are struggling right now.' Her hopes vanished when she learned she wasn’t going to get the credit, but it did not stop her from helping others."
Leaders secured commitments from state legislators to work with their six organizations to advance the legislation during upcoming budget hearings, and to press the Governor to find the money. They also committed to meeting with local organizations within two weeks, and joining regional civic academies on the issue to build a larger constituency.
Immigrant Workers Face Economic Uncertainty During Covid-19 Shutdown, America Magazine [pdf]
Faith Leaders Call on State to Support Undocumented Immigrants, The Pajaronian [pdf]
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans on April 15 to make $75 million available to help undocumented workers left out of unemployment relief programs like the CARES Act, but California Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) organizations say this is not enough. One LA-IAF leaders, with the rest of the state network, are calling on Governor Newsom to do more for undocumented immigrants.
"Our immigrants make California a beautiful state," said Father Arturo Corral of Our Lady Queen of Angels / La Placita. "We need to always ask [the governor] to do his best."
Leaders with [COPA-IAF, One LA-IAF, Inland Communities Organizing Network (ICON), Bay Area IAF, and Common Ground are calling] for several initiatives to help undocumented workers including: expanding the eligibility of State Disability Insurance to workers unemployed because of Covid-19 but ineligible for unemployment insurance; sending $1,200 to any Californian who qualified for the California Earned Income Tax Credit last year or this year; expanding no-cost to low-cost hotel options to agricultural workers; making more money available to food banks and school districts feeding students.
[Photo by Chava Sanchez, LAist]
Newsom Announces Covid-19 Relief For Undocumented Workers; Advocates Say It's Inadequate, Monterey County Weekly [pdf]
California Bishops Ask Governor to Increase Aid to Undocumented and Low-Wage Workers During Pandemic, California Catholic Conference of Bishops [pdf]
Letter to Governor Newsom, California IAF
Common Ground Bursts Onto the Political Scene in Vallejo, Engaging County, City Officials and Police
It wasn’t a phone call left for a city or county official that may or may not be returned. Or a call to police dispatch that said there are 15 calls for service already on hold.
Tuesday night’s gathering at St. Basil’s gymnasium gave the community — at least 250 individuals, anyway — a chance to voice their concerns face-to-face with the Vallejo City Council, Solano County Supervisors, and law enforcement.
The... event, [organized by the seven year old IAF affiliate] Common Groundwent well, with topics including homelessness, rising rents, and school safety.
“We were thrilled with the success of the evening,” said Common Ground member Cheryl Gewing.
“I think it was impactful to hear people’s personal stories and troubles they’re facing and trying to understand the process available to them,” said Councilmember Pippin Dew.
“I liked the sharing of the stories … that the community is involved and wants to work with us,” added Councilmember Rozzana Verder-Aliga.
Mayor Bob Sampayan said city officials were already aware of most of the issues presented, but it was positive to sit at a table “and hear the personalized stories.”
“I think it was awesome to have such a wide representation of people of the faith community, schools system, law enforcement, city and county leaders,” added Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan, calling the event “anything but warm and fuzzy. It was the cold, hard truth about what’s happening in the community.”
Co-host Tazamisha Alexander said the packed room was indicative that the community and officials are willing to work together....
[Note: Common Ground is part of the Bay Area IAF. In collaboration with the Bay Area IAF, an interfaith delegation of clergy and seminarians from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific participated in the action as part of an intensive course on community organizing.]
On Thursday, January 18th, 220 Common Ground leaders from Solano and Napa Counties kicked off 2018 with a Neighborhood Safety Assembly at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church in Vallejo. They were joined by 60 allies from across the region.
At the heart of the agenda was a plan, crafted by local parish and school leaders, to prioritize five areas across Vallejo for critical crosswalk improvements, and to examine laws to decrease vacant lot blight which plagues residential neighborhoods across Vallejo.
Mayor Bob Sampayan and the new Superintendent of Vallejo public schools, Dr. Adam Clark, committed to working with Common Ground leaders on these issues.
Fr. AndrÃ©s Emmanuelli, vicar at St Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church in Vallejo, and Ms. Maggi Ingalls with Napa Valley Unitarian Universalist, discussed the specifics of the 'Common Ground Neighborhood Safety Plan' and called upon those gathered to reclaim their communities. Towards that end, leaders have scheduled a study session with the Mayor at First Christian Church in Vallejo on February 12th.
Well over one hundred leaders of Common Ground assembled with Vallejo City Unified School District candidates in the parish hall of St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic. Leaders expressed a commitment to building constructive relationships for strong neighborhoods and schools.
"An enthusiastic crowd of about 1,500 people filled a Vallejo high school gym Sunday afternoon to welcome a new multi-county organization to the community.
Common Ground was introduced at the convention, which was attended by members of its 15 member institutions, and Napa and Solano counties and state elected officials. The broad-based organization is made of religious and non-profit organizations from Vallejo, Benicia, Fairfield, American Canyon and Napa, who 'have the capacity to act on the issues in our community,' said co-chairman Todd Bertani, of St. Mark's Lutheran Church, Fairfield."
Diverse Solano, Napa Agencies to Seek 'Common Ground', Times Herald
New Organization Unites Faith Communities, Other Agencies, Daily Republic