Initiatives

Building Electoral Power

 

Our democracy only serves our people when we show up in numbers at the polls. Chattanooga, especially within our migrant communities and communities of color, has a history of low voter turnout. Low turnout can lead to further neglect of our neighborhoods. We put in the time on the ground, engaging with our neighbors to ensure our voices are heard in each and every election. Get involved with neighborhood canvassing, postcard campaigns, voter registration, and more!

Municipal IDs

 

Government-issued photo IDs can be required for everything from getting a library card, to opening a bank account, to registering your kids for school. The process of acquiring an accurate state ID creates barriers for a number of vulnerable communities, including people who are undocumented, transgender, experiencing homelessness, or formerly incarcerated, to name a few. Municipal IDs are a secure and simple solution for our local government to ensure that Chattanooga residents have access to all the services that require a government-issued ID. Join us in our campaign for City IDs!

Community Control Now!

 

Local law enforcement poses one of the most immediate and visible dangers to migrants in our community. Racial profiling and over-policing of our neighborhoods leads to unnecessary arrests and family separation. Cooperation between the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department and ICE means that something as simple as a traffic stop can quickly turn into a deportation. We are working in coalition with a number of local community organizations to put oversight of Chattanooga police in the hands of our communities. The police cannot police themselves, and we could use your help to establish a Community Oversight Board in our city!

End Cash Bail

 

We are a member organization of Chattanoogans in Action for Love, Equality & Benevolence (CALEB), so we are working with their Criminal Justice Task Force to bring an end to Cash Bail in our county. In 2020, 63% of Hamilton County inmates were held pre-trial, while legally assumed innocent, simply because they could not afford to pay their bail. Studies across the U.S. have found that we can keep our communities safe and ensure people show up for court, without disproportionately detaining our low-income neighbors. Help us reconstruct the way our pretrial justice system functions!

Restorative Practices for Hamilton County Students

 

We are a member organization of Chattanoogans in Action for Love, Equality & Benevolence (CALEB), so we are working with their Education Task Force to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by ending suspensions and expulsions in Hamilton County elementary schools. Black students in our schools are four times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white students, often for minor behavioral conflicts. This sort of punishment creates a cycle of disciplinary actions that leads to higher dropout and incarceration rates among students of color and students of low-income families. Join us in the push to replace suspensions and expulsions with Restorative Practices that preempt punishment by giving students the tools they need to resolve conflict peacefully and with empathy for one another.

Partnership with TIRRC

 

We partner with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition to address state-wide issues facing our migrant communities. Stay tuned to see how you can help us build state-wide power from right here in Chattanooga.

Rapid Response Team

 

A crucial part of defending our migrant communities is keeping our neighbors out of dangerous situations of incarceration. We operate a 24/7 volunteer-run hotline that folks can call if a loved one has been arrested and may be in danger of deportation. We communicate with the person’s outside contacts as well as court and jail officials to determine the nature of the arrest, and work with the Hamilton County Community Bail Fund to bail the individual out, free of charge, if eligible. If a person does end up in ICE custody, we work with immigration lawyers and CALEB’s Immigration Bond Fund to bond them out of federal custody and return them safely home.

Immigration Bond Fund

 

Federal Immigration Bonds are expensive, commonly ranging from $10,000-$30,000 or more. In order to reunite families that have been separated by the immigration enforcement industry, we partner with CALEB to pay bonds for eligible individuals at no cost to the person or their family. Wealth should not be the key to freedom.

Education and Prevention

 

Through educational programming (such as “Know Your Rights” and “How to Interact with Law Enforcement” trainings) and direct preventative measures (such as Free Brake Light Clinics), we work to reduce the potential for encounters with law enforcement that may turn into deportation orders and family separations.