Things That Matter

Jeff Flake Called For An FBI Investigation Into Kavanaugh After Two Latinas Confronted Him With Their Stories

Since Dr. Ford came forward about her experience of sexual assault, women all over the country have been forced to vicariously relive their own experiences of sexual violence. In solidarity with the bravery of Dr. Ford, and second accuser Deborah Ramirez, the collective consciousness of women survivors have reared its head, and many women are sharing their stories.

I have my own story. Two Latina survivors went viral recently after cornering Arizona Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator and demanding his attention. They had never told their story before and their raw emotion in the video got the attention of millions of Americans and Sen. Flake. Here’s how things went down.

Jeff Flake mattered because he was undecided until moments before the Senate hearing vote.

CREDIT: @jfoosg / Twitter

Flake had already announced that he was retiring because he felt bipartisanship in the Senate was lacking and disrupting the ability to get any work done. He isn’t vying for Republican votes, therefore, he’s a bit of a wild card.

He was also the only Republican Senator on the Judiciary committee, which determines whether or not a nominee advances to the full Senate for a vote, who was undecided.

Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher met just minutes before their now infamous elevator encounter with Sen. Flake.

CREDIT: @MaketheRoadAct / Twitter

Archila had been showing up to protest Kavanaugh every day since the allegations came out. Gallagher is a 23 year old recent Northeastern University graduate who impulsively showed up to his office. The two had a common goal and quickly met it together.

Moments before the hearing, Sen. Flake published a statement that he would vote yes on Kavanaugh.

CREDIT: @MaketheRoadNY / Twitter

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Archila said, “I had gone to his office because I thought that he might be willing to take a step beyond his party.” In a sense, he was the only shot anyone had of ensuring due process would be had to investigate Dr. Ford and other accuser’s claims before a Senate vote.

Just after the two read his statement, they heard him coming down the elevator and were filled with rage.

CREDIT: @MaketheRoadAct / Twitter

In one momentous emotional impulse, Archila told the world what came over her: “All of the emotions we had been holding for the last several weeks just came out pouring. He needed to understand that women feel incredibly enraged about the thought of our stories of surviving sexual violence being dismissed, laughed at, disbelieved. I felt a great sense of urgency.”

Gallagher spoke through tears for the very first time of her sexual assault.

CREDIT: @MaketheRoadAct / Twitter

Reportedly, Gallagher’s own parents found out for the first time after the video went viral. She has not gone public about her experience, and has been respectfully private since the incident.

Sen. Flake kept averting his eyes from the women demanding answers and justice.

CREDIT: @MaketheRoadAct / Twitter

But Gallagher wouldn’t have it. “Don’t look away from me. Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me, that you will let people like that go into the highest court of the land and tell everyone what they can do to their bodies.”

Preach.

Archila said, “He kept pressing the button in the elevator to try to close the door.”

CREDIT: @MaketheRoadAct / Twitter

All Flake could do was respond with “sorry” and “thank you.” Unlike Ted Cruz, it seemed that Flake would receive these women’s experience. We’ve all known that Flake has struggled with his decision more than any other male Republican on the council, and perhaps what we saw was remorse for his decision.

“Do you think that he’s able to hold the pain of this country and repair it?”

CREDIT: @MaketheRoadAct / Twitter

She continued, “Do you think that he’s able to hold the pain of this country and repair it? That is the work of justice. The way that justice works is you recognize hurt, you take responsibility for it and then you begin to repair it.”

The two have since been hailed as heroes after Sen. Flake announced that he would vote yes on the condition of a one week FBI investigation, halting the proceedings.

CREDIT: @AnaMariaArchil2 / Twitter

Flake himself has said that his experience in the elevator truly made him believe that these hearings were “ripping our country apart.” From the elevator, he walked straight into the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting and spoke with his friend, Senator Coons about his moral dilemma.

Behind closed doors, Coons then gathered more Democratic senators to join them, and soon enough, it became a private meeting of the entire committee seeking to sway Sen. Flake.

Folks have responded with unending support for la Marias that demand justice.

CREDIT: @eltarantula10 / Twitter

The last time a Supreme Court nominee was accused of sexual harassment, the Senate essentially ignored Anita Hill’s experience of inappropriate behavior from Clarence Thomas, who still sits on the Supreme Court today.

Flake has given women hope that we will be heard. Men can no longer get away with subverting women’s dignity for their own pleasure, without consequence.

Maria Gallagher has given the world one message since: take care of yourself.

CREDIT: @mgallagher822 / Twitter

Before Sen. Flake even shared his vote, she tweeted “I feel relieved that @JeffFlake seems to have heard my and @AnaMariaArchil2’s voices in the Senate elevator today. We absolutely need an FBI investigation and for him and all Senators to vote NO. #StopKavanaugh”

Thank you, Maria. Thank you for your courage.

Ann Coulter, on the other hand, did what she does and tried dismissing the moment.

CREDIT: @AnnCoulter / Twitter

It should be more upsetting to hear someone say things like this about immigrants. However, Coulter has built her career by hating immigrants and spreading lies to defame an entire community.

Archila legally emigrated from Colombia when she was 17 years old.

CREDIT: @NYDailyNews / Twitter

Today, she serves as the Co-Executive Director of non-profit Center for Popular Democracy, where she pushes for racial and economic justice alongside immigrant rights. For the last 13 years, Archila helped transform the once “Latin American Integration Center” into the “Make the Road New York” available to all low-income immigrants that come to the U.S.

She is a hugely successful activist and lobbyist for labor laws and immigrant rights.

CREDIT: @AnaMariaArchil2 / Twitter

In her bio for Popular Democracy, we know that Archila has helped “put millions of dollars in the pockets of low-wage workers by winning increases to the minimum wage, paid sick days, and strong protections from wage-theft; and they have led the ambitious campaigns to win public policies that make New York City one of the leading Sanctuary Cities in the country.”

Archila stands and fights for Puerto Rico.

CREDIT: @AnaMariaArchil2 / Twitter

She is intimately plugged into the conflicts that continue to arise in Puerto Rico, from the recent incident of police pepper spraying peaceful activists, and the continued lapses in aide after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

Archila experienced sexual violence when she was just 5 years old.

CREDIT: @AnaMariaArchil2 / Twitter

It doesn’t matter how long ago it happened, once a woman has been assaulted, it stays in her consciousness forever. There’s truly no going back. You heal, but you never recover.

She had to tell her story, because our stories matter. Thankfully, they mattered to Flake. The New Yorker reported that after leaving the elevator, Flake “looked more withdrawn than ever, eyes wet, voice a little frayed, chin tucked down in the somber knot of his tie.”

Since then, Archila has been outspoken demanding a woman’s basic right to be heard.

CREDIT: @AC360 / Twitter

“I was so enraged that all these men in the Senate Judiciary Committee basically forced a woman to tell the story of the most traumatizing experience of her life and then proceeded to say, ‘Well thats fine we still like our guy.’ I just could not believe that was happening and really I wanted Senator Flake to look me in the eye and feel my pain and rage, and really it was the pain and rage of women across the country who could not believe this was still happening today.”

She wants you to help.

CREDIT: @senatorcollins @lisamurkowski / Twitter

If you have money: Donate alongside hundreds of others who have raised over $27k to the Center for Popular Democracy to help fund other survivors’ to tell their stories (i.e. transportation costs, etc.).

If you would rather share a story: “People across this country should take the opportunity to continue to share their stories, especially with @SenatorCollins and @LisaMurkowski: they must listen to our voices, look us in the eye, and #BeAHero.”

No matter what, remember how your Senators voted and vote this November.

CREDIT: @womensmarch / Twitter

In an interview with The New York Times, Archila shared her favorite literary sentence, “We cannot understand slavery or any great injustice by thinking about the masses. We have to think about it in the experience of one person.” She went on to ask, “What was this enslaved woman thinking when she woke up in the morning. Who did she miss that morning? Who did she talk to when she felt sad? How did she feel when her child was stolen from her? We have to think about…and especially the people who are creating laws in our country… have to think about the impact of their decisions by thinking about one person. How is that one person going to be shaped by me?”

Your vote matters. Make it count.


READ: Here’s How People Are Coming Together To Support Brett Kavanaugh’s Accusers After They Came Forward

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Undocumented Residents Could Be Excluded From The 2020 Census After All, Thanks To New Supreme Court Case

Things That Matter

Undocumented Residents Could Be Excluded From The 2020 Census After All, Thanks To New Supreme Court Case

Phil Roeder / Getty Images

The drama over the 2020 Census continues.

First, was a Supreme Court decision that found the Trump administration wasn’t being totally honest about it’s reasoning for including the citizenship question on the 2020 Census – so the court effectively removed the question from the census. 

Then, Trump tried to delay the constitutionally mandated census to give his administration more time to come up with a better reason to tell the courts.

None of that worked as planned by the administration, and the Census has continued as normal. However, so many in minority communities – particularly migrant communities – have been fearful of completing this year’s census. Well, a new Supreme Court case could erase all the progress we made to make sure all residents – regardless of immigration status – were fairly counted.

The Supreme Court will hear a case that could allow the Trump Administration to exclude undocumented residents from Census data.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments next month over whether President Trump can exclude undocumented immigrants from the census count used to apportion congressional districts to the 50 states.

The court’s announcement means that the court – which could soon have a 6-3 conservative majority – will hear arguments in the case on November 30.

In July, Trump issued a memorandum asking the Census Bureau to subtract undocumented immigrants from the count for the purposes of congressional apportionment — the reallocation of the nation’s 435 House districts every 10 years. Trump’s memo came after the Supreme Court had rejected his last minute efforts to add a citizenship question to the census.

By the time the high court hears this case, federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett could be confirmed as the ninth justice, cementing a conservative majority. Senate Republicans hope to confirm her nomination to the Supreme Court before the election on Nov. 3.

However, the U.S. Constitution explicitly calls for the counting of all residents within the country.

Credit: Tetra Images / Getty Images

The 14th Amendment requires districts to apportion congressional seats based on “counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.”

Since the first U.S. census in 1790, the numbers of U.S. residents who are counted to determine each state’s share of congressional seats have included both citizens and noncitizens, regardless of immigration status.

“President Trump has repeatedly tried — and failed — to weaponize the census for his attacks on immigrant communities. The Supreme Court rejected his attempt last year and should do so again,” said Dale Ho, a lead plaintiffs’ attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who successfully argued against the now-blocked citizenship question the administration wanted on the 2020 census forms.

Removing those immigrants from the population counts would shift power to less diverse states. A Pew Research Center study last year found that it could result in House seats that would otherwise be assigned to California, Florida and Texas going instead to Alabama, Minnesota and Ohio — each of which is set to possibly lose a House seat in the next decade due to population shifts.

And drawing new districts within the states based only on the counts of citizens and legal immigrants would likely benefit Republicans, shifting power from cities and immigrant communities to rural parts of the states, which vote for GOP candidates at higher rates

The announcement comes shortly after the court also allowed the Trump Administration to end the Census count early.

Earlier last week, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to stop the census count, blocking lower court orders that directed the count to continue through the end of the month. 

The decision, which the Trump administration favored, came with a candid dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor – the court’s only Latina justice.

“Meeting the deadline at the expense of the accuracy of the census is not a cost worth paying,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “Especially when the Government has failed to show why it could not bear the lesser cost of expending more resources to meet the deadline or continuing its prior efforts to seek an extension from Congress. This Court normally does not grant extraordinary relief on such a painfully disproportionate balance of harms.”

But it wasn’t long ago that Trump tried to completely derail this year’s census.

The Trump administration has decided to print the 2020 census forms without a citizenship question, and the printer has been told to start the printing process, Justice Department spokesperson Kelly Laco confirms to NPR.

The move came shortly after the Supreme Court ruled to keep the question off census forms for now and just a day after printing was scheduled to begin for 1.5 billion paper forms, letters, and other mailings.

President Trump had said he wanted to delay the constitutionally mandated headcount to give the Supreme Court a chance to issue a more “decisive” ruling on whether the administration could add the question, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” A majority of the justices found that the administration’s use of the Voting Rights Act to justify the question “seems to have been contrived.”

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Xavier Becerra Will Not Prosecute Women Getting Abortions If Roe V Wade Is Overturned

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Xavier Becerra Will Not Prosecute Women Getting Abortions If Roe V Wade Is Overturned

Samuel Corum / Getty Images

Americans are closely watching the confirmation hearing of Amy Coney Barrett. The judge has made it clear that she is not in favor of marriage equality, access to abortion, and the right to affordable and life-saving healthcare. California’s attorney general has pledged not to prosecute women for abortions if Roe V. Wade is overturned.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is standing with women and their right to choose.

AG Becerra was a congressman representing California wen President Donald Trump won the 2016 election. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown called on AG Becerra to leave Congress and come back to California as the attorney general. The move was a clear response to President Trump’s victory and a show that California was gearing up for years of legal battles against the administration.

Politicians and activists are sounding the alarm of Barrett’s alleged willingness to overturn Roe V. Wade.

The Supreme Court secured the future for women when they made the decision on Roe V. Wade. Suddenly, women have safe access to abortions. It closed a dark chapter in American history when women died from botched back alley abortions. Since the decision was made, the GOP has fought for years on local, state, and national levels to reverse the decision and strip women of their healthcare rights.

Concerned citizens are begging for government officials to do something to protect abortion rights.

If Roe V. Wade is overturned, the decisions to allow abortions will be left up to the states. This would negatively impact millions of women who are already struggling to access necessary healthcare in GOP-led states. States like Louisiana and Texas have made it increasingly difficult for women to access abortions in the state.

Americans do support Roe V. Wade.

Sixty-six percent of American adults do not support overturning Roe V. Wade. The decision has had a very real and important impact on the lives of women in the U.S. After decades of dangerous and fatal botched abortions in the U.S., the Supreme Court decision gave women a chance to get safe abortions. The decision afforded women a chance to have control of their futures.

People are grateful to see AG Becerra’s statement on Roe V. Wade.

Abortion is something more and more Latinos have come around too, according to some studies. According to the Latina Institute, a majority of Latinos are in favor of women having the right to choose what is best for them.

What are your thoughts about Roe V. Wade? Let us know.

READ: Latinas Raged Outside Of The Supreme Court To Fight Back At Recent Abortion Bans That Are Unconstitutional

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