Protecting Our Democracy

LCV and Chispa Statements On Latest MAGA Attempts to Subvert Voting Rights

For Immediate Release July 10, 2024 Contact: Mika Hyer, mhyer@lcv.org, 940-783-2230 En Español: Elena Gaona, egaona@lcv.org, 202-907-9717 LCV and Chispa Statements On Latest MAGA Attempts to Subvert Voting Rights Washington, D.C.— In response to today’s House vote on the SAVE Act, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and Chispa issued the following statements: “This anti-voter legislation would make the right to vote harder to exercise for millions of eligible voters while providing no additional security to our election systems,” said LCV Senior Director of Civic Engagement Hilda Nucete. “Every voter in every community, no matter their race, identity, ability, age, or zip code deserves to vote without intimidation or unnecessary  barriers. This bill creates yet another intimidating, confusing, and unnecessary hurdle for eligible voters to exercise their fundamental right. The Senate must reject this baseless, racially motivated, fear-mongering bill and pass crucial and proven voting rights legislation like the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the Freedom to Vote Act, and statehood for the people of Washington, D.C. to protect voting rights instead of dismantling them.” *** “Our democracy works best when all citizens can participate. Instead, the SAVE Act scapegoats immigrant communities, including in large part Latine communities, and seeks to take away the power of eligible voters,” said Chispa Senior Director Estefany Carrasco-González. “Requiring Americans to provide a certified birth certificate or a passport to register to vote places an unnecessary burden on eligible voters and disproportionately affects low-income citizens, women, the elderly, those with disabilities, and communities of color. Our elections are already secure and we will continue the work to protect all our rights for a healthy democracy, including our ability to have fair representation and to tackle the climate crisis that is affecting our communities directly.” ###

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LCV and Chispa Applaud Redesignation of Temporary Protected Status for Venezuela

For Immediate Release SEP 21, 2023 Contact: Mika Hyer, mhyer@lcv.org, 940-783-2230 Washington, DC — In response to today’s announcement by the Biden-Harris administration to redesignate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuela, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and Chispa released the following statements: “We applaud the Biden-Harris administration on their decision to protect more communities facing devastating impacts of an authoritarian government and the climate crisis by redesignating Temporary Protected Status for Venezuela,” said LCV Senior Civic Engagement Director Hilda Nucete. “This decision based on ‘humanitarian, security, political, and environmental conditions’ is a much needed response to the interconnected challenges of the climate crisis and threats to democracy. In the wake of the hottest summer on record and the continued impacts of extreme weather for migrants who have walked for months seeking asylum and pollution on communities carrying the greatest burdens from the climate crisis, we need these protections for families who cannot safely return home.” *** “Communities in Venezuela are facing disastrous circumstances as a direct result of the fossil fuel industry, the climate crisis, and authoritarian government,” said Chispa National Director Estefany Carrasco-Gonzalez. “For too long, our comunidades from Venezuela who have had to flee their homes have not been granted the protections they need and deserve. We greatly appreciate the Biden-Harris administration for their decision to protect more communities through the redesignation of Temporary Protected Status.” ###

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Chispa Texas Statement on Governor Abbott’s Inhumane Border Actions

Corpus Christi, TX — In response to Governor Greg Abbott’s directive to order border security officials to use inhumane measures, Chispa Texas released a statement from Program Director Elida Castillo: “Governor Abbott’s inhumane directive to mistreat those seeking asylum at the border contradicts his stance on life. We condemn actions that further jeopardize and cause harm to the lives of migrants and refugees. As extreme temperatures continue to rise, he sends the guard to act as judges, jury, and executioners rather than sending assistance. This is not the behavior of a person who values life. These are the actions of an extremist acting above the law for political gain at the expense of people fleeing political violence and climate disasters. We urge the federal government to step in to stop this inhumane treatment of human beings, including children. Our comunidades deserve to be treated with dignity, and Chispa is committed to fighting for a more just and equitable future for all.” ###

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Celebrate Earth Day with Chispa by Recognizing our State Programs

This Earth Day, join us in celebrating the accomplishments of each of our Chispa programs.We want to highlight front-line communities, the driving force in the climate movement. Low income and communities of color bear the brunt of climate burdens, and it is often these communities that are fighting the hardest for environmental justice.  In 2011, Chispa started as a project of the League of Conservation Voters, focused on environmental issues in Latinx communities in Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico. Since then, Chispa has flourished, becoming a major voice for climate justice with a national team and six state programs. Our state programs are on the frontlines of the climate movement, bringing communities together to call on local representatives and demand bold climate action. Our teams in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Texas, Nevada and Maryland continue to advocate for environmental protections for low income and communities of color within their states. Read more to learn about the growth of each of our state programs and the amazing work that they do today.  COLORADO Since 2011, Protegete has worked closely with Chispa LCV to engage Latinx communities around the state at the grassroots level. One of Protegete’s first projects involved partnering with Project New America to poll Latinxs on their attitudes towards environmental issues, which confirmed that Latinx communities are interested in and concerned about environmental issues. Protegete then launched a pilot project that successfully mobilized over 10,000 Latinxs to take action on climate change. A key takeaway was that Latinx communities are interested in environmental issues and will take bold action –if asked. Since then, Protegete has organized around voter registration,  membership building, and clean air, most notably in January 2017 when they organized students to testify before the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission urging them to pass Low Emission Vehicle Standards. ARIZONA Soon after launching in 2013, Chispa Arizona turned their focus to clean energy advocacy, and in 2017 they joined Chispa LCV’s Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign, which continues to bring Chispa’s state programs together and has garnered press coverage, rallied elected officials and school district leaders, recruited Arizona State Legislature members, and delivered petitions on behalf of over 16,000 Arizonans to the State Capitol. These community organizing efforts led to the state’s 2018 commitment to invest in new school buses in districts with a majority of students on free or reduced lunch. Now, Chispa Arizona has pivoted to working with local school districts to apply for funding and prioritize electric school buses. Chispa Arizona has since also grown its democracy program, focusing on reaching low to moderate propensity and first-time voters and elevating candidates of color fighting for public lands, clean air, water and a more just and reflective democracy that rejects donations from corporate utilities. They knocked on over 60,000 doors, made more than 400,000 calls, and registered nearly 29,000 new voters in 2018. Chispa Arizona continues to center community voices in all of their work–see some of their storytelling projects below. High Schoolers join Chispa Arizona’s Fight For Clean Air 14 Year Old Chispa Arizona Volunteer Gives Testimony at EPA Hearing MARYLAND Chispa expanded in 2014 creating the Chispa Maryland program. This program quickly began to make waves in the state, co-founding the Festival del Rio Anacostia to engage the Latino Community. Organizers from Chispa Maryland also marched and addressed crowds at the People’s Climate March in Washington DC. Today, Chispa Maryland continues this work, having recently celebrated the passage of the Climate Solutions Now Bill (SB528) in both the state House and Senate. Chispa Maryland played a key role in organizing community members on the ground to advocate for this bill, which will create cleaner air for Maryland communities and is one of the strongest climate bills in the country. NEVADA  In 2016, Chispa Nevada launched and began  organizing community surveys, conducting organizer trainings, and registering over 6,000 voters throughout Hispanic Heritage Month. Chispa NV celebrated their wins with the RenewNV coalition, which helped to pass nine clean energy bills that included energy efficiency programs, electric vehicle incentives, community solar access, and a higher Renewable Portfolio Standard. During the 2018 elections, Chispa Nevada made over 39,000 calls urging Latinos to get out and vote and successfully elected champions for clean water, air and energy up and down the ticket. Most notably, Steve Sisolak won the gubernatorial election, becoming the first Democrat to be elected Governor of Nevada since 1994. Chispa Nevada continued its democracy work in 2020, when it hosted its first-ever bilingual caucus training to help Nevadans push 2020 presidential primary candidates to prioritize climate justice. (Launch of Chispa NV’s environmental radio show, Raices) WATCH: Community Power Nevada: Unidxs En Acción (United In Action) FLORIDA In partnership with the Florida Conservation Voters, Chispa launched its Chispa Florida program in 2020. The Florida Program has launched a variety of initiatives such as the“Banco De Mujeres,” which provides free, eco-friendly menstrual products and diapers for children and adults. Additionally, the Chispa Florida’s Green Program promotes the development of sustainable communities by celebrating the Kissimmee Green, Orlando Green, and Tampa Green events. Through programs like these and others, our team in Florida is working to bring electric school buses to Floridian communities, which will result in a cleaner, greener, and safer future for our communities. TEXAS After two years of planning, ChispaTexas officially launched in Corpus Christi in March of 2022. Texas has a deep rooted history in the environmental movement, as it was here that the environmental justice movement really began. It was in Houston Texas, that Dr. Robert Bullard, known as the “father of environmental justice,” began researching the disproportionate impacts of pollution on communities of color. Chispa Texas’ work will contribute to this movement in the state. The new program  is already creating an impact, starting with program director Elida Castillo giving testimony at the EPA’s Clean Trucks Rule Hearing. Chispa Texas will be hosting an Earth Day event to bring community members together and educate them on the importance of climate action. 

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Let’s Build Back Better For All

In the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, families and communities also faced turbulence in surviving floods from New York City to New Orleans and wildfires all over the Southwest and California. This year continues to remind us that the climate crisis is in fact already upon us. Extreme weather is already the world’s leading cause of displacement: three times more than conflict and nine times more than persecution. Scientists predict mass migration in the next thirty years due to climate change, displacing the people who are already bearing the biggest brunt of the effects of environmental racism and systemic oppression. Human mobility due to climate-related disasters and events, often called “Climate Migration,” refers to the mobilization of people (often entire communities) who are forced or compelled to leave their homes due to climate-related disasters or environmental changes that make their habitual homes no longer safe or adequate to live in. Our immigrant communities carry an extensive history of exposing the reality of this climate crisis and its devastating consequences. Despite our decades of efforts, politicians and community leaders are just now beginning to wake up and endorse our call to action. I’m a proud immigrant from Guatemala, a country that has seen the destruction caused by climate change first hand as hundreds of thousands of people seek relief from extreme drought and storm patterns and the hardships that follow, like poverty and food insecurity. This displacement continuously separates and rips families aparts  in their quest for survival. Through this disheartening reality, stories like mine become a generational cycle; I was separated from my ancestral lands and my family – our rich history of subsistence agriculture ended with our departure from Guatemala. The climate crisis and the harms it causes do not exist in a silo; environmental injustices are linked to racial, gender, reproductive, health, voting, and so many more inequities. We often think of environmental and climate justice as land-focused movements that are disconnected from people-centered justice, but that is far from true. Environmental justice – particularly as it relates to climate justice – is inherently tied to the fight for human and civil rights. And, as we see more and more wildfires, hurricanes, once-in-a-century storms, floods, and other climate disasters, there is a clear connection between the environmental justice we seek and the immigration justice our allies seek for our communities. Our work must go hand in hand because our fight is intersectional. We must shift our climate action solutions to no longer address singular or isolated issues, and instead, make bold changes to structures and systems that caused the injustice in the first place. A sustainable, equitable future for Latinx includes the dignity of stability and freedom from the fear of the next looming climate disaster. The climate crisis knows no borders, so why do our climate solutions?  One thing is for certain: our movements await critical and timely action from Congress on both immigration and climate relief. Despite increasing support, we were unable to include citizenship in the Build Back Better Act in the House, and we are left to hope that the existing provisions, including work permits and other critical benefits, remain in the Senate’s version of the bill, so that at least some relief comes to our undocumented community. We cannot address the climate crisis without addressing immigration rights and reform. Congress sets our country up for future failure and turmoil if we do not address the ways in which climate disasters are disproportionately harming immigrant communities.  Getting our respective priorities into the final Build Back Better Act package, legislation, or other legislative vehicles should not be a competition for who gets the best or biggest piece of the pie. Justice for our communities is an and instead of an or; we need both a pathway to citizenship and bold investment in immediate climate action to ensure our future generations can benefit from a safer, more equitable country – particularly for the Latinx community as we face xenophobic narrative and policies, underrepresentation in government and in the media (and overrepresentation of harmful stereotypes), and targeted disinformation in both English and Spanish. This is a historic opportunity to stand together and ensure that pandemic rebuilding efforts and revisioning of a more just future include relief for our communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 due to decades of disinvestment, discriminatory practices, higher pollution burdens, inequitable access to healthcare, and so much more.  The millions of undocumented and differently documented people and families in the U.S., as well as the millions who will be displaced in the coming years due to extreme weather and the climate crisis, need a reliable mechanism of safety, certainty, and sustainability – and they need leaders who are willing to work together today to build our communities better for tomorrow.  About the author  Alejandra Ramírez-Zárate, National Campaigns Manager, Chispa LCV a grassroots community organizing program in the fight for climate justice.  Alejandra Ramírez-Zárate is a civil rights leader dedicated to achieving greater racial and economic equity for marginalized communities. She works to advance democracy reforms that reduce barriers for participation, empower low-income people of color to participate in policy decision-making processes, and increase government responsiveness to their needs. Alejandra is a proud immigrant from Jutiapa, Guatemala and grew up in Los Angeles, CA. 

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Zero Emission Schoo Bus

Re: Electric School Bus Coalition Urges Biden-Harris Administration to Accelerate Electric School Bus Transition

Today, Chispa, the community organizing program of League of Conservation Voters (LCV), in conjunction with the Electric School Bus (ESB) Coalition, sent a letter to President Biden and Vice President Harris urging the administration to invest $25 billion over 10 years to accelerate the electric transition of the nation’s school bus fleet — prioritizing low-income communities of color who bear the highest pollution burden and worst air quality. Read the full letter below: Source: https://lcv.org/article/re-electric-school-bus-coalition-urges-biden-harris-administration-to-accelerate-electric-school-bus-transition/

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