Fighting Institutionalized Racism: Avaaz and California’s ACLU vs. Texas SB4 and Muslim Ban

The governor of Texas recently signed legislation that eliminates sanctuary cities in the Lone Star State. After SB4 becomes law during September, it will force local authorities to assist federal officials in efforts to crack down on immigration. City police could lose state funding and even face prison time if they don't cooperate. California's branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has reacted by condemning SB4 and alerting California residents to the risks involved in visiting Texas.

Racist Motives

The group's statement warns that Texan police may persistently violate basic rights in the months to come. It predicts numerous unlawful detentions and frequent racial discrimination. The ACLU accuses SB4's supporters of promoting a "racist agenda." Its statement explains that they actually want to target minorities rather than stop people from illegally crossing the border. The organization's attorneys will soon launch a campaign to overturn the Texas law.

Our Response

We strongly agree with the ACLU and condemn the state's moves to penalize sanctuary cities. Likewise, we reject President Trump's plan to suspend federal payments for local governments that won't follow orders to arrest immigrants. These efforts will discourage minorities from reporting crimes to police or serving as witnesses in court. Avaaz has consistently worked to oppose various anti-immigrant policies and political movements in North America and Europe.

For instance, Avaaz activists in Berlin destroyed a wall made of cardboard to protest Trump's plans to fortify the Mexico-U.S. border. The wall stood just over eight feet tall and held the American president's picture. Demonstrators tore it down with the help of rubber hammers. This protest took place during a global campaign that was designed to dissuade American expatriates from voting for Trump or ignoring the election.

Another Avaaz project involved a letter opposing the president's decision to block new refugees for 120 days and prohibit travelers from several Muslim nations. The open letter was addressed to Donald Trump. It stated that people around the world had rejected his promotion of racism, fear, violence and hatred. This message also condemned the U.S. leader's insulting remarks about various groups, including Mexicans and Islam adherents. More than 4 million Avaaz members signed the letter; it succeeding in drawing the attention of major newspapers like The Independent and the Chicago Tribune.

Helping Refugees

Avaaz's campaigns haven't been limited to symbolic efforts. The group has worked to directly assist refugees as well. For example, it arranged the delivery of humanitarian aid to islands in the Mediterranean Sea. These supplies benefited people who had escaped war-torn countries and needed immediate assistance to meet their basic needs. Members also bolstered a maritime rescue organization by contributing approximately $500,000. This helped make it possible for rescue workers to save drowning Syrian, Iraqi and Libyan refugees.

Avaaz is a rapidly growing nonprofit that supports progressive activism in countries around the world. In addition to defending immigrants, it launches campaigns involving human rights, corruption, media bias and the environment. The group's total membership increased from about 27.8 million to 44 million between 2013 and 2017. Its staff members work in more than 30 nations. Avaaz has been credited with organizing massive climate change protests, preventing internet censorship and raising millions of dollars for disaster relief. Any individual can visit this organization's website and become a member for free.