NEWSSTAND

ICE Agents Use Digital Advocacy to Secure the Border

Border patrol agents are banding together as part of a grassroots campaign to reform their agency. U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees want swift and decisive action from the President, and they’re using digital media to accomplish their objectives.

The National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, made up of ICE employees and supporters of tight border security, claims that ICE is mismanaging employees and risking our national security. The group’s president, Chris Crane, called on the administration to “take measures to ensure the safety of our law enforcement officers” and “drain the swamp at ICE.”

Government Bias at the Border

Obama-era officials still hold jobs at ICE, and border agents expressed frustration at these bureaucrats who hinder the agency’s important work. “ICE has become so politicized that it no longer operates as an effective law enforcement agency,” Crane said.

Crane also cited instances of managers directing agents not to wear bullet-proof vests on the job, leaving them vulnerable to criminals with guns. Additionally, local officials sometimes give illegal immigrants advance warning of ICE activities, effectively encouraging them to hide.

This group of agents also alleges that ICE’s internal policies are biased against field agents. If these accusations are true, they indicate great unwillingness by career bureaucrats to properly secure America’s borders.

Advocates Taking Action

America’s border patrol agents are not, however, sitting on the sidelines and waiting for things to improve on their own. They have started their own website – jicreport.com – to allow whistleblowers to report wrongdoing in their offices. The site aims to expose the abuses of power and hold bureaucrats accountable.

On the website, these ICE employees declared their support for President Trump and their respect for standard reporting procedures. The group notes that it is acting outside the normal chain of command because the normal process yielded no results. “Unable to penetrate your staff and communicate with you, we were left with no choice but communicate publicly,” Crane wrote. These agents are taking matters into their own hands, and draining their own swamp.

Grassroots Success Story: Neighbors Harvest 600 Acres for Family of Fallen Farmer

Joe Penny was a devoted father, caring friend, and busy farmer until he tragically lost his life in a motorcycle accident in August. At 65 years old, Joe still worked as a soybean farmer on the same piece of land where he grew up. The Penny family lived on their land outside Decatur, Nebraska, for four generations.

His grieving children, shocked by the sudden loss of their father, had an additional challenge: harvesting this year’s soybean crop. They depend on the harvest for their livelihood, and without Joe, harvesting would prove nearly impossible.

Community Effort

As harvest season grew closer, friends and neighbors got together and decided to help the Pennys as a team. Last Saturday, they started the harvest – much to the surprise and gratitude of the family. The Omaha World-Herald reports, “More than three dozen people turned out to help. Along with the combines, equipment included five auger-wagons and 20 semitrailer trucks.”

Joe’s daughter Jenny says that the group harvested roughly 600 acres of land in one day. That same task would have taken her family weeks. The 2,000 acre farm still needs more work, and the volunteers plan to keep showing up until they complete the harvest.

One of the volunteer farmers says, of his late friend Joe, “He would have been there for us.” With a willingness to pitch in, a few combines, and some trucks, these people made world of difference for the Pennys.

Tech Companies Use Petitions to Cut Red Tape

Every startup faces challenges, particularly with regulation and bureaucracy. Airbnb constantly fights for permission for private citizens to rent their own homes, as the hotel industry fights to ban this (literal) cottage industry. Netflix is fighting for net neutrality, so that powerful internet companies cannot slow down its videos.

Uber Vs. Bureaucracy

Harvard Business School noticed that the most successful startups use a tool that StandUnited knows well: online grassroots petitions. When taxi unions and government regulators tried to ban Uber in London, 850,000 people signed a petition to allow the rideshare service. The city saw the groundswell of support and agreed to allow Uber to operate. Similar situations have played out in cities around the world, with Uber usually winning when the grassroots shows its strength in numbers.

Small Startups

It’s not only the huge, innovative companies making waves with online petitions. Sometimes, an individual can change the law and pave the way for a new small business. Shelley Erickson lives in Minnesota and loves baking. However, state law made it illegal for her to sell her baked goods. Erickson started online petitions to change the law, even though no state lawmaker had taken up the issue. Her petitions garnered over 2,000 signatures, which was enough to get the lawmakers’ attention. A state legislator sponsored a bill to allow home bakers to sell their homemade treats. The bill passed, and Shelley’s kitchen – as well as many others – are now open for business.

You can be the next success story. Click here to start your petition in minutes!

Watch These Soldiers Pull Off a Special Gender Reveal

Earlier this year, Britt Harris told her husband the exciting news: She was pregnant! The father-to-be, U.S. Army Spc. Chris Harris, felt overjoyed. He had just deployed to Afghanistan a few weeks prior. Tragically, on August 2nd, Chris Harris gave the ultimate sacrifice. A suicide bomber detonated, killing the young soldier, and turning life upside-down for Britt.

Now a young widow, she faced the future of bringing a child into the world without her late husband by her side.

Fellow Soldiers Step Up

Chris’ fellow soldiers surrounded Britt with love and support. She would have the baby as a widow, but she wouldn’t go through her pregnancy alone. The 82nd Airborne Division, still deployed overseas, helped Britt pull off an amazing gender reveal.

With the soldiers’ help, Britt was able to mail confetti poppers to their military base overseas. The video below shows the soldiers making the big announcement, and celebrating the news!

The soldiers’ excitement over the new baby went viral, and warmed the hearts of military families and civilians alike. Britt told USA Today about how the soldiers rallied around her at this difficult time: “They have been phenomenal and done everything they can to watch over me even from a distance.” She says that, despite the trauma of losing her husband, she and the baby are both healthy. Britt looks forward to welcoming the baby in March of 2018.

Student Petition Brings Music to Campus

Students at Emerson College in Boston successfully petitioned the school’s dining services division to permit staff to play music openly while preparing food for students in the dining hall. The campaign, called “Keep the Music Behind the Counter,” began in response to the decision by Dining Center General Manager Patrick Griffin to direct at least one dining services employee to stop playing music while on the job.

The petition drive, which began as an anonymous posting, drew campus-wide support shortly after its appearance on campus. Dozens of students at the small liberal arts college signed the resolution within days of its appearance, and the effort garnered praise from the editorial page of the student-run Berkeley Beacon, which called for fairer treatment of the college’s support staff. The Beacon reported that the petition attracted so much support that students resorted to squeezing their names onto the margins of the page to make their voices heard.

Administrators Take Notice

This grassroots effort soon drew the attention of General Manager Griffin, who reversed his decision shortly after becoming aware of the extent of student dissatisfaction. Griffin, who cited concerns of employee professionalism in his original decision, reversed course to satisfy student demand. “I believe that it’s your dining hall, it is your DC, whatever you want to make you happy,” Griffin told Emerson students, and the Beacon further reported that school employees seemed satisfied with the decision.

Grassroots Success Story: Seniors Speak Up

Each week, StandUnited features the story of a grassroots effort that is making a difference. This week’s success story comes from Bowdoinham, Maine, where a few committed volunteers greatly expanded opportunities for senior citizens.

Bowdoinham is home to 2,800 people, many of whom are retirees. These seniors enjoy the town’s charm and beautiful natural landscape. However, as people age, many encounter new challenges that keep them from cherished hobbies.

The community is governed by a Town Council, which noticed several years ago that the community could better serve its many seniors. The Town Council established an Advisory Committee on Aging.

Volunteers Step Up

Nine local seniors stepped up to volunteer on the Committee. The town brought in an active aging expert, Patricia Oh, to lead their efforts. Under her direction, Bowdoinham citizens brought their ideas and innovations to the committee. The Coastal Journal estimates that everyday people donated “hundreds of volunteer hours” to this project.

Small Changes, Big Difference

So, what did the committee accomplish? It made local buildings more accessible to seniors and those with mobility concerns. Volunteers even secured an AARP grant to build elevated gardening boxes. These boxes will allow seniors who cannot sit or kneel on the ground to still enjoy gardening, a favorite shared pastime among the community. Even the local library adapted its collection to better serve an aging population. Bowdoinham locals can now check out gardening shears from the library, just like books!

The Committee now hosts a “Coffee Cafe” where seniors can socialize, as well as golf outings and bridge and cribbage events. Two volunteers even put on a very popular collage workshop. All of these steps bring the community closer together, all with the help of everyday citizens who choose to make a difference.

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