TAKE ACTION Stop Sen. Janssen's Arizona-style Bill

Paul Olson, President
Nebraskans for Peace

As you know, the anti-immigrant ballot measure in Fremont vote ended up passing despite our efforts by about 4,000 to 3,000. This is discouraging. But remember that the original petition to put this issue on the ballot received more than 3,000 signatures (over 4,000 if we include the signatures that Fremont authorities could not validate) and few in Fremont were speaking out against it at the beginning. Though we lost the election, progressive forces obviously gained some traction. The credit for what gains we made go to Kirsten Ostrom, Krista Kjelgaard and their local Fremont allies; to the Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest and its allies, to the churches which took a position, and to a lot of people like UNL Professor Miguel Carranza and civil rights lawyer S. A. Mora James who put in much hard work. We lost but not for lack of trying. 

At the last NFP State Board meeting, the board of directors authorized us to join coalitions to oppose the State Senator Charlie Janssen, Arizona-type anti-immigrant legislation proposed for Nebraska. Appleseed is organizing such a coalition, and Nebraskans for Peace will be sending representatives to the July 8 meeting. 

After consultation with NFP State Board member Miguel Carranza and NFP Treasurer Mark Vasina, I am asking our members to start calling their state senators now to ask them where they stand on this Arizona-clone legislation and to urge its defeat. I am also asking people to call or email the NFP office to inform us of what they find out from their senator.

Contact your representatives and tell them we do not want to be another Arizona

We need your help with these local organizing efforts. This is a pivotal moment in the history of racism in Nebraska, and we want to be able to say that we did our utmost to oppose this ugly tide. Remember the words of the German Pastor Martin Niemoller:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Most of us in NFP can say, "We are not Hispanics."  That does not exempt us.

What happened in Fremont is not a minor and isolated skirmish. This coordinated push by anti-immigrant forces to turn back the clock on racial justice is a whole new ballgame that could well determine the direction we as a nation go.

I am wondering if you are willing to lead your local community in opposition to the Charlie Janssen legislation by calling your local legislator, organizing rallies, promoting voter registration and the like. It is essential, of course, that we try to ally with local Hispanic groups wherever possible.

Please reply to me in the next few days/weeks as to what you and your nearby NFP chapter think you can do.

First and foremost, though, call your local state senator to ask him or her how he/she is leaning at this moment. (You can google “Arizona immigration legislation” if you want to better familiarize yourself with the law.) Then, please enter his or her response below or send me a separate email. If you’re feeling powerless to do anything, tell me that as well. Perhaps the state NFP organization can supply some resources to help you get started.

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