Defund Hate Week of Action Host Toolkit

Overview 

This administration’s attacks on immigrants are atrocious. Full stop. The good news is, there is something we can do about it. We’ve seen again and again when Indivisibles (in collaboration with other progressive partners) take action and use our nationally coordinated voice, we can make an impact. 

That’s why we’re showing up for a Week of Action September  9th - 13th. On September 9th, Members of Congress (MoCs)  return from recess, so they need to be hearing from their constituents immediately. At the suggestion of Indivisible leaders, there will be a national call in day on that day,  September 9th (get the social toolkit here) and a crescendo between   then and  September 13th when Indivisible across the country will show up at their district office visits.  If the 13th doesn’t work for your group, you can do an event any day that week to help build the pressure.

We stand with immigrants. It’s time to demand our Members of Congress Defund Hate, which is why we’re proudly part of the Defund Hate Coalition. The key to fighting detention, raids and family separation is by defunding them through the congressional appropriations process. 

We need to ask our MoCs to demand cuts to funding for CBP and ICE. Congress needs to pass another government spending bill by September 30th. And we need to push for cuts  to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and strict guardrails to ensure that money isn’t misused.

You can get started right away. During the August recess you can start putting pressure and you can keep up the pressure after the week of action. You can see more in our Defund Hate Toolkit about asking your MoCs tough questions at town halls, showing up at district offices and bringing in new members to this fight. This will build your power for a more effective action during our Week of Action.

This toolkit includes the basics to plan your Week of Action event. Below you’ll find our asks, tactics, talking points, media tips and how to plan your event from start  to end. And don’t hesitate to reach out to your Indivisible Organizer (indivisible.org/ask-organizer) to start working together to plan your week of action. 

Our Asks 

Congress must take action before the fiscal year ends on September 30. Their two main options are to pass a regular order appropriations bill that funds the government for the year, or to buy more time to settle the final deal by passing a short-term spending bill called a continuing resolution (CR). A CR is supposed to maintain the status quo while Congress negotiates, but we’ve seen ICE and CBP try to do sneaky things in a CR before, so we have to be vigilant! 





If Appropriations Bill

If Continuing Resolution

  • Cut overall funding for ICE and CBP

  • Remove the slush fund for ICE in sections 228(b)(1)-(5) that effectively grants Trump a blank check for deportation and detention

  • Keep language barring ICE from stealing money from other agencies

  • No extra money for ICE beds, ICE or border agents, or the wall

  • Prohibit overspending for enforcement

  • Adopt guardrails for CBP and HHS from the House supplemental funding bill

Tactics 

The overarching tactic for the in person events during the Week of Action should be rallies outside of district offices (like the many successful events during the Whose House, Our House! day of action) or, if there is no accessible district office, doing a rally in a public spot in your community (like these groups did in Kansas). 

That said, groups will be targeting different types of Members of Congress -- some who are very supportive of this campaign and others who we’re going to need to really push. To be most effective, these events can all have a slightly different goal and theme depending on the type of MoC. Here are some ideas:  

Supportive MoC

These MoCs are publicly supportive of our asks; almost exclusively Democratic. 

Goal: For these MoC’s, groups are providing positive reinforcement to neutralize any second-thoughts they might have when more conservative Democrats such as those in the “Problem Solvers Caucus” attempt to cut a bad deal with Republicans. These MoC’s need to be shown that we will show up for them and reward them when they do the right thing in contentious situations-- they will be more likely to keep it up if we do this. 

Theme: Groups come together in front of MoC’s office or in a public, visible location in your community (if district office is not accessible) demonstrating appreciation that MoC is doing the right thing by centering and uplifting impacted communities and living our values. 

Unreliable MoC

These MoCs may have indicated an interest in supporting our asks but hedge their support with concerns around whether there is “enough support” in their district or that they need to “keep the next election in mind.”  Check to see if your member of Congress voted with Republicans to pass Mitch McConnell’s bill to give millions more to ICE to continue separating and terrorizing families (if so, they probably fall into this category!).

Goal: We want to remind these MoCs that we will support them if they do the right thing, but need to see them stand up for our values now. This is also providing cover for these MoCs, since you’re demonstrating this is the desire of the district. 

Theme: Consider more striking demonstrations including deliveries of soap and toothbrushes to MoC’s office to highlight the inhumane treatment at the detention camps. 

Problematic MoC 

These MoC’s will include mostly Republicans and a few of the most conservative Dems, such as those  in the “Problem Solvers” Caucus. If Democratic, this MoC likely supported motions to recommit and other efforts to undermine the power of the Democratic majority which we worked hard to elect in the House, overcoming gerrymandering and voter-suppression only to see our vision dimmed by legislators like this.

Goal: We may not be able to win over the most problematic MoCs, but by publicly demonstrating that they have constituents who do not support their position,  we can dull their case to the more unreliable MoCs against a budget which really demonstrates our values. For some of these MoC’s, groups may be providing cover for the MoC to break with other more conservative colleagues-- have they issued any sort of statement expressing concern about conditions on the border or communities disrupted by ICE raids?

Theme:  The theme here can be largely the same as those outlined above for unreliable MoC’s, but for these who are less likely to take defunding hate seriously, it is critical to redouble efforts to make sure their lines are flooded and their offices are seeing a lot of action with constituents passing through. 

 

Creative Action Ideas 

We’ve already seen groups across the country engage or start planning other creative ways to bolster their Week of Action events. You can take a look at a few ideas below if you want to do more than the call in day on the 9th and a rally on the 13th: 

LTEs. Letters to the Editor will be instrumental in compelling your MoC to go on-record earlier responding to our asks. This is a great supplement to your in person events and a great option for more rural areas or members who can’t  show up in person. 

Event relays. Indivisible groups on the West Coast are planning to do a relay between events from the northern to the southern border. Consider thinking about how you can collaborate with other groups (your Indivisible Organizer can help coordinate!). 

Getting creative at events. Attendees don placards/cards/nametags when they show up to the event with a number on them representing how much profit some private prison or local government entity is making off of every prisoner. Event organizer keeps track of running total on posterboard or other large visible number-tracking mechanism and tweet out running total at regular intervals

Talking Points 

While our main message to Defund Hate is clear, we wanted to make sure to provide some additional talking points that you can use at events, with your MoC/their staff or even when you’re recruiting folks to your events. This includes both topline talking points and answers to typical questions that you may hear from your MoC.  You can download and print these talking points and sample answers to hard questions here.

Overall talking points:

  • Congress must fight the atrocities Trump is committing at the Southern border and throughout this country by cutting funding for the agencies that most drive these abuses--ICE and CBP. Decreasing their funding is the best route to blocking the implementation of Trump’s horrifying anti-immigrant agenda. 

  • Under Trump, detention of individuals and families has exploded by over 50%, from 34,000 people per day under the Obama administration to its current level of 55,000 people per day. Congress has enabled this by increasing funding for ICE by over a billion dollars since the start of the Trump administration.

  • DHS regularly flouts the funding levels set by Congress in order to expand its detention and deportation activities. For example, Congress allowed ICE to steal $200 million in 2018 in order to expand ICE’s detention capacity. Instead of holding the administration accountable for its abuses and mismanagement, Congress has consistently awarded even more money.

  • The crisis at the Southern border is a direct result of deliberate, but unnecessary, decisions being made by this administration. This crisis is not due to a lack of resources; it is due to Congress allowing those resources to be used to maximize cruelty, instead of meet the real humanitarian needs that exist. 

 

Sample answers to hard questions:

If you really care about how migrants are treated in custody, don’t we need to give these agencies more money, not less, so that they have the resources to provide humane care?

  • No. First, ICE and CBP have proven time and again that they simply will not use more money to improve care. Instead, they’ll use it to expand existing detention camps or open new ones. If this were really a question of money, ICE wouldn’t have diverted millions of dollars to conduct one of the biggest worksite raids in history, or have threatened nationwide raids targeting immigrant families.

  • Even more importantly, we have to focus on the right choice point. We’re asking you and your boss to reject the idea that asylum-seekers arriving at our border or undocumented neighbors who have been here for years should be locked up in the first place. They should be allowed to pursue their cases with the support of their communities and legal counsel, not rounded up and held in cruel camps.

Isn’t there a crisis at our border? Don’t we need more money to increase our border security?

  • No. We should invest in border governance that helps border communities thrive by moving people and goods safely and efficiently. But building a racist wall, deploying active duty troops, expanding detention camps, or hiring more unaccountable Border Patrol agents won’t do that.  

  • CBP’s budget has nearly tripled since 2003. We don’t need to allocate more taxpayer dollars for border governance. Instead, we should cut their funding and divert the billions and billions of remaining dollars toward the things that border communities are actually asking for: infrastructure investments at ports of entry and accountability for rights abuses. 

For opposition MoC:

  • Lean into arguments about democratic process: The Constitution gives Congress the “power of the purse” but over the last several years, ICE and CBP have essentially written their own budget—raiding money from other government accounts, overspending, and disregarding congressional authority. It’s critical that Members of Congress ensure that basic guardrails are included in any funding bill to keep ICE and CBP spending within appropriated amounts.

Planning Your Events 

Even if your group has done hundreds of rallies outside of your district office, a good planning process is key. Here are a few important steps to take to make sure you hit all your bases. 

Have an initial planning meeting. Pull together your full group or steering committee (depending on how you typically organize your events) for a planning meeting. Many of the items outlined below can be a part of your planning meeting. You can also use the following sample agenda: 

  • Intro & Icebreaker 

  • Outline Event Needs 

  • Determine Event Roles 

  • Make a Plan for Recruitment 

  • Make a Media Outreach Plan

  • Next Steps & Close Out 

Reach out to local partner groups. When organizing any event it’s critical to reach out to other progressive groups and to consult with organizations/groups that are most directly impacted by the issue you’re organizing around. We also want to make sure to center the voices of those who are most impacted by the Trump agenda. In this case, you should start by reaching out to local immigration groups to see what actions they have coming up and how you can support their work. You can also see the coalition members of the Defund Hate campaign on their website  and many of these organizations have a more local presence that you may already be working with. 

Determine date and time. We’re looking for a big crescendo with most events on September 13th, but if that date doesn’t work, groups can do an event any day the week of September 9th. Work with your group to determine which day works best and the time that will be most convenient -- keeping in mind that district offices tend to close at 5 pm. Consider doing shortly before the office closes or during lunch time so that working members can join. 

Register Your Event: Once you have the time and place, upload the event to the map. The map helps us coordinate our national voice, recruit new activists for your events, and identify areas for growth. Teach a new (or existing) activist how to upload your event to the map.

Decide on Event Roles: This event is a leadership opportunity for everyone in the group. Split up the work and encourage members to take on new challenges to build an effective event and an even stronger group. Projects folks can work on may include: recruitment, media lead, materials coordinator, social media lead, etc. 

Make a Recruitment Plan: Every action should be looked at with the goal of pushing on the specific issue, but also through the lens of growing your group and bringing in new members. Start with deciding on a recruitment goal. How many new faces do you want at your event? How many seasoned activists? Having a goal will help you target your recruitment.

  • Register your event on our map. Once you upload your event, you will have a unique RSVP link. Post the link to you social media sites, direct message new activists, send it around to your listserv, and get it tattooed on your forehead. Your event will also be included in national recruitment emails leading up the the big day.

  • Hit the phones. Identify a few folks who can call through each member of your local Indivisible group, and personally invite them to join you in this action. The personal touch can make all the difference. People will be more invested in coming when they know that you are invested in them showing up. And don’t forget to ask them to bring a friend or two! 

  • Map your networks. Ask your leaders to list out (on paper) 3-5 people who aren’t currently involved in Indivisible but who they think would enjoy the event. Think about members of your book club, your neighbors, or that coworker who is always posting memes about resisting Trump on Facebook. Then commit to making a personal ask to each of these people.

  • Make asks and assign roles. This is good organizing. Pro-tip: people will be more invested in events, and more likely to show up when they have a clear role. So ask some of your newer volunteers to take tasks. Maybe they can bring some pens or snacks? 

Make a Media Outreach Plan: This week of action will be a powerful opportunity to get local media coverage that demonstrates that your community is passionate about ending abuses at the border and around the country. It’s a real opportunity to show solidarity and send a message of support. Media coverage that mentions your Member of Congress by name will also maximize the pressure you’re putting on them. Remember that because of the power of Google Alerts, your MoC’s office will read every piece of coverage that mentions them, no matter how small.  

  • Confirm who will be leading on media and taking other roles

    • If your group already has someone who’s the long-term media lead, great! If not, have someone step in as the lead media liaison for this project. The person who leads on media planning and outreach does not need to be someone who gives interviews.

    • If possible, identify a person or two who could offer them support with follow-up phone calls and day-of coordination to share the load.  

    • Check with storytellers and speakers to confirm they’d be game to give interviews. They’ll be “spokespeople” for the day. 

  • Check in with partners. Ask any partner groups you’re collaborating with what they typically do to reach out to media and talk through how you can share the work. If you’re working with a partner group that includes immigrant community leaders or folks with direct personal experience to share, be extra sure to check who from their group would be willing to give interviews.  

  • As you plan your action, have your media lead weigh in with an eye to what will make it media-friendly. What would a TV camera see at your event? What can you do to make it visually interesting and grabby? Is it at a place that reporters should be able to get to easily?

  • Get your media list ready. Your group should have a main media list that keeps track of the reporters you work with and their contact info. (If you haven’t built one yet, great time to start! Reach out to your organizer to be connected with some support.) Because you’ll be focused on immigration issues, do some googling to see if there’s anyone at the local major papers who has specifically written about immigration recently, and consider inviting them. (Check out more tips for finding new reporters using Twitter here.)

  • Write up a media advisory and email it to your media listA media advisory is like a press release that you send out inviting media to an event. This can first be sent as soon as you have a place or time ready, then re-sent the week of your event. A sample media advisory, sample press release, and step-by-step tips for sending them out are here

  • Invite Spanish-language media and other multi-lingual media. If there are Spanish-language TV stations or newspapers in your area, or media in another language, this could be a great chance to contact them.  

    • Send your media advisory along to any contact info you can find on their website. Folks at non-English-language media outlets are typically happy to correspond about an event in English, so English is fine. 

    • If you have a fluent speaker among your spokespeople, ask if they’d be interested in giving interviews in that language. Giving interviews in multiple languages can be a mental challenge, even if you are fluent, so don’t assume! If that person is willing, include a note in your emails to those outlets that a fluent speaker will be available for interviews. For TV stations especially, that can be a major bonus that makes it more likely they attend.

    • High school-level speakers: you may be better off counting  yourself a non-speaker for media purposes. Don’t force it!

    • If you’re successful in connecting with these outlets, add them to your media list and continue inviting them to future events on all topics.  

  • Follow up! In the few days before your event, you’ll want to send some follow-up emails and make some calls. Check out How to Get Press to Cover Your Event for a detailed schedule of tips. 

  • During the event: help media get what they need. During the action, have your lead greet any media that attend and coordinate interviews so they get what they need. Ensure you have their contact info and ask if they have any follow up questions. Some common little things reporters may need might include the spelling of names of people who appear in photos. Reporters will appreciate feeling like their needs are taken care of. 

  • After the event: send out a press release and photos. Share a press release with reporters who made it and those who didn’t. The idea is to give newspapers everything they might need to write up a news story even if they didn’t make it, which smaller papers sometimes will. (A sample press release is available here.) Make sure your release includes a quote or two attributed to the speakers, with at least one mentioning your MoC by name. Quotes can be things that the speakers literally said at the event or not. Attach photos. 

Discuss Material Needs: Determine what materials you need in advance of the event and make a plan to ensure you have all the things you need—chances are folks in your group already have many of the items you’re looking for. Some ideas include: 

Prepare sign in sheets. There is power in knowing who your people are. It allows you to show your strength in concrete terms when talking with elected officials. You can identify potential leaders when you keep track of who comes to what type of events. Finally, you can understand the geographic identity of your group when you know where people live. Download your official Indivisible sign-in sheet here.

Do a strong confirmation process. Most volunteers tend to need a few reminders to show up to an event. You can usually expect that  about 50% of members who say yes to an event will show up the day of, but you can improve this ratio with strong reminders. Start with a phone call a few days before to ask them if they can bring a friend and if they have any questions. The day before give them a final ring to see if they were able to find a friend and ask if they can bring something like a snack. The morning of the event send a quick text to make sure they have the time/address. It might seem like this is a lot of reminders, but it always helps to have a few different reasons for calling. 

 

Event Lead Up/Recruitment

You don’t have to wait until the September Week of Action to take action on the defund hate campaign! Get started now to figure out where your MoC stands on the issue and to start engaging folks in your group (and folks not yet in your group) on this campaign. 

Take action during August Recess. Most of our MOCs will be back home for recess until the second week of September. This is an excellent opportunity to engage our MOCs on the question of funding for CBP & ICE. You can see more in our general defund hate toolkit here. 

What does August Recess have to do with an action in September? Great question! Witnessing a public demonstration can be exciting and sometimes is just the thing that motivates some of us to action. That’s why you should share any videos, pictures, stories, or any other content you might have on actions you are doing, especially in the lead up to the September Week of Action, as far and wide as you possibly can. 

 

Engage new and existing group members in the immigration campaign. You can bring folks into the Defund Hate campaign by having different types of events in the lead up to your Week of Action events. Here are some ideas: 

  • Public Demonstrations (expert): Action fires people up and watching people resist the machine can be incredibly inspiring. If you feel you are ready to take bold action consider birdogging your MOC or organizing some other kind of public demonstration. How does this relate to recruitment?: Great question! Share this content, either in the moment with a livestream or after, and make sure to add a recruitment ask to any content you are sharing. We created a text opt in specifically for this reason. Its: Text “Defund Hate” to 977-79. 

Chalking (intermediate): Taking big actions can be really intimidating. Its ok if you have members that are not ready for that. As organizers we should strive to find actions that meet people where they are and still bring people into the movement. That’s why we are suggesting chalking, or similar activities, as an intermediate action. Chalking is an easy and creative way to draw attention to an issue. Really think outside the box: find an area with high foot traffic, unleash your inner artist, and make sure to include an ask. In this case, writing something along the lines of “Migration is beautiful! Text ‘Defund Hate’ to 977-79 if you agree.” Below is an example of how chalking has been used to draw attention to an important issue. *A quick note on chalking: Chalk washes away and often, people may chalk on public sidewalks. However, laws vary and before you do it, you should call your local municipal office and ask what the law is as some places do have laws around chalking. *Trigger warning*

Read More
  • Social Media Campaigns (beginner): We have all seen social media campaigns that are far reaching, have all experienced temporary frames added to profile pictures aimed at putting focus on an issue. Social media campaigns can be incredibly impactful but only if people act in solidarity with each other. That is why if your volunteers choose this action it is important that you make a plan with them to recruit other people to be a part of it as well. For each person who decides to share our “Defund Hate” social media toolkit, make sure that they are recruiting 5 people or more to share it as well. And as always make sure the post includes an ask: Text “Defund Hate” to 977-79.

    • How does the text opt in help me recruit?

      • Great question! When your volunteer first opts in they will get a message asking them to make a call to their MOC. We’ll collect their zip code and they will be linked to a script and the number for their MOC.

      • When you register your September Week of Action event on the Indivisible Map every person who “opted in” in your area will get a link asking them to RSVP to your event! 

Day of Your Event 

After thoughtful planning, the day of the event will arrive! Here are some steps to follow during the event: 

Volunteers with roles come together early. All people in key roles should meet 45 minutes in advance to make sure everyone is clear on their role. 

Set up. Assemble any signs or props, test technology and prepare a sign in area for attendees outside the district office. Gather snacks and water into a place for participants to grab. 

Welcome attendees. Make sure to have a sign in sheet and greet folks as they arrive. Introduce folks who have never been to an action before to one another -- they’ll be more likely to come back to an event if they have make connections. Your media liaison should also have a plan to greet press as they arrive and help facilitate introductions for interviews.  

Start the rally. Most Indivisible groups have done tons of rallies at this point, so your group can customize what works for you. However, here are some ideas: 

  • Once everyone has gathered, the Main Speaker should state clearly why you all are there, and that many people in your district will be affected by this vote.

  • The Social Media Coordinator should record, live-tweet and/or Facebook-live the entire experience.

    • Make sure that you are recording and taking photos horizontally, not vertically. It really helps the video get shared and makes it usable for press.

    • Be sure to tag your Member of Congress.

    • Be sure to tag @IndivisibleTeam on Twitter.

    • Post photos of the action.

  • Storytellers should stand in a line next to the speaker, so they can easily pass the microphone or bullhorn to share their stories. You should be sure when inviting speakers to center the voices of folks who are most impacted by these immigration policies. 

  • You may want to start with some group chanting. Simple chants like “Defund Hate” can be effective when you want to get through a clear message. 

Consider going inside the district office. If the office is still open, you can consider having some attendees go into the district office visit to speak with staff before concluding for the day. You can print and bring this leave-behind that details the asks that your group is making of your member of Congress.

Share your pictures and storiesThroughout the event you should make sure you’re document through videos and pictures. Send your stories, pictures, and best practices to stories@indivisible.org and tweet at @IndivisibleTeam.

Debrief and Follow Up 

Whether you’ve been organizing for decades or are just getting started, there are always things to learn. Taking the time to do an intentional debrief is critical to make sure you are taking away learnings from your events. It’s also of key importance to make a follow up plan with everyone who attended. 

Make a follow up plan. It’s said that organizing is 70% follow up. Your event isn’t over after everyone drives away. Take time even before the event to plan out your follow up process. 

  • Make thank you calls. Reach out to everyone who attended the event (usually calls have the best personal touch). 

  • Schedule follow up 1:1s. Set up a time for coffee with new attendees to your event that seemed particularly engaged. This is a great way to build up a relationship and understand your new group members motivations. 

  • Get folk committed to your next action. Once someone has shown up for one action, make sure they get scheduled for your next action. If they seem really interested, consider giving them a role or project for the next event. 

Schedule a debrief with your team. This should be an intentional space with everyone who had a role in the action. You can use your great takeaways from this debrief as you’re planning your upcoming events. Here are some sample debrief questions:

  • What went well at this event? Why?

  • What didn’t go so well? What was the cause? You will get the best results if you approach this without assigning blame.

  • Were there any equity implications from how we approached this? Positive or negative?

  • What feedback do we want to highlight for our organizer? Positive or negative?

  • Overall, what should we do differently in the future?

  • What are our immediate next steps?