As Democrats Abroad leaders and members arrived in Tokyo - the home for our annual global meeting for the very first time - our hosts of the local Democrats Abroad Tokyo chapter welcomed us with true hospitality, including small, hand-made welcome gifts to each attendee.Read more
The Honorable Trey Gowdy, Chair
U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Elijah Cummings, Ranking Member
U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
2471 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Re: U.S. Citizenship Question on 2020 Census
Dear Chairman Gowdy and Ranking Member Cummings,
Thank you for holding today’s hearing on the 2020 census briefing. I appreciate having the opportunity to share with the Committee the collective voices of many of your constituents.
As the International Chair of Democrats Abroad, I write today with the American overseas community’s perspective in regard to the Administration’s desire to include asking for respondents’ citizenship status on the upcoming census. As you may know, Democrats Abroad is the official branch of the Democratic National Committee for the millions of U.S. citizens living outside of America’s borders and territories. We closely follow the actions in Congress from abroad and advise our members to take action as appropriate.
In addition to nineteen states’ attorneys general and six former Census Bureau directors, I offer our perspective of strong opposition to the Department of Commerce’s unnecessarily enquiry about U.S. citizenship. Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution explicitly states the need for the federal government to enumerate the citizenry. In no constitutional clause does it state, suggest, or imply that requesting U.S. citizenship status should be part of this decennial process. The Census Bureau rightly halted this practice in 1950 and to bring it back would be disastrous in 21st-century America. Virtually all interested parties want the 2020 census to be accurate, without fear, and robustly funded by Congress. However, if the subject of citizenship is added, it is likely that this traditionally non-partisan project will be met with fear, hostility, questionable results, and other undesirable outcomes.
We believe the Administration is unnecessarily creating opportunities for inaccurate or incomplete census information of your constituents by gravely miscalculating a political move instead of administering sound constitutional policy. Moving to a controversial, citizenship-based census questionnaire is not only preventable but greatly risks the quality of census data to be collected because of the millions of U.S. resident non-citizens - green card holders, refugees, “dreamers,” and many others - who may hesitate to complete the census form due to its overreaching inquiry on citizenship status. By doing so, it would skew the actual population numbers intended for legislative representation, and clearly lead to a misdirected distribution of finite economic resources as appropriated by Congress.
If the Committee does move legislation forward relating to the 2020 Census, Democrats Abroad strongly urges for inclusion of legislative language mandating the enumeration of all federally-unaffiliated U.S. citizens living abroad. Democrats Abroad - along with several other interest groups representing expatriate interests - has testified numerous times before Congress over the years calling for our rightful inclusion in the census. Unfortunately, we remain disenfranchised. In light of this continued injustice, a congressional hearing on the estimated nine million Americans living abroad and how to best include them in the 2020 census is needed far more than determining whether a U.S. household is occupied by citizens or immigrants.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to be heard on this matter. I respectfully request for this statement to be included into the hearing record, and note that I am readily available via phone or e-mail for any follow-up questions or comments from the Committee. I can be reached at (843) 628-2280 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Democrats Abroad, International Chair
 State of California v. Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. et al. (2018), case no. 3:18-cv-01865, United States District Court of Northern California, March 26.
 Letter from Thompson et al. to Secretary Ross, U.S. Department of Commerce, 26 January.
DNC Chair Tom Perez provided a rallying and soulful talk to Democrats in London on April 26th, highlighting the party’s successes in candidate recruitment and victories in recent congressional, state and local elections. Summarising the DNC’s actions since the 2016 presidential elections, Perez addressed some hard truths and sketched out a battle plan to re-establish a government that reflected Democratic values.
“Our democracy is on fire!” Perez said. Basic principles, like the independence of the Justice Department and the right to vote, are being attacked by our own government. Free and fair elections are under threat from foreign manipulation. “Even the way the DNC itself operated has been flawed,” he said, referring to candidate favouritism in 2016.
“One way that we as Democrats have failed is that we only had a 4 year innovation plan. We worked on coming up with new ideas, new solutions every 4 years to get a president elected. If you’re a business and you’re not innovating every 8 months, you’re in big trouble. The new Democratic Party is addressing that,” he said. “We have a 57 state strategy to organise, recruit and communicate in all states, not just in traditionally blue states. We’re going into red districts, listening to voters, and winning!”
“We didn’t get the support we needed in 2016 in some key places because voters lost trust in the Democratic party. The DNC is working to rebuild that trust and to deliver the change that millennials and all of us want to see,” Perez said. “We’re all millennials. We care about healthcare and employment and pensions. We’re concerned about and addressing income inequality and the needs of our most vulnerable citizens.”
“We’re all millennials, no matter what age you are, because you’re all building a bridge to a better Democratic party and a better country. We’re all part of the transformation of the Democratic Party.”
Story by John Scardino, DAUK
Hundreds of Americans abroad posted their virtual march pictures to us this weekend - standing with the many thousands who marches in cities and towns around the world. Thank you for your outreach! And if you didn't get to march last weekend, it's not too late to join our virtual march - head here for information and the pdf printout.
Midterm elections may not take place until November 6, but for voters abroad, the time to request a ballot is now. This year, America will elect 435 House of Representatives, 34 Senators, 36 Governors, thousands of others to state and local positions, and decide the outcome of critical issues on some ballots as well. In many cases, votes from abroad will be THE margin of victory, which means it's more important than ever to ensure your vote is counted. Unsure about your voter status? Wondering when to expect a ballot? We’ve got you covered.Read more
International Chair Julia Bryan issued the following remarks for International Women’s Day 2018:
Before I flew to Washington this week I hugged my daughter and said, “Stay strong, work hard, and treat your brother the way you’d like him to treat you.”
Caroline’s fourteen, and already an ardent activist. In 2016, she saw Hillary Clinton’s candidacy as an “of course” moment. Of course there would be a woman president. Her world seemed equal, the past’s prejudices disappearing as the generations shifted.
When Clinton lost the election, my daughter realized, as so many of us did, that we still had a lot of work to do.Read more
While Americans in the private sector may not have an issue getting involved with Democrats Abroad, for those employed by the US government, the details can be a bit less clear. This is, at least in part, due to the Hatch Act.
The Bottom Line Up Front: There are plenty of political activities that federal employees can still take part in, as long as they do not take their politics to the office. Specific questions about political activities can be directed to the agency’s legal counsel or the U.S. Office Of Special Counsel.
The Hatch Act, officially An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities, limits certain political activities of federal employees, as well as those of other government employees who work in connection with federally funded programs. The law’s purposes are to ensure that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace, and to ensure that federal employees are advanced based on merit and not based on political affiliation.
What the Hatch Act means for Civilian Federal Employees
Federal employees may:
- Register and vote as they choose
- Assist in voter registration drives
- Express opinions about candidates and issues
- Participate in campaigns where none of the candidates represent a political party
- Contribute money to political organizations or attend political fundraising functions
- Attend political rallies and meetings
- Join political clubs or parties
- Sign nominating petitions
- Campaign for or against referendum questions, constitutional amendments, municipal ordinances
Federal employees may not:
- Be candidates for public office in partisan elections
- Campaign for or against a candidate or slate of candidates in partisan elections
- Make campaign speeches
- Collect contributions or sell tickets to political fundraising functions
- Distribute campaign material in partisan elections
- Organize or manage political rallies or meetings
- Hold office in political clubs or parties
- Circulate nominating petitions
- Work to register voters for one party only (Registering voters via VoteFromAbroad.org would *not* be prohibited as it is a non-partisan tool that helps all Americans register to vote from abroad, regardless of party).
- Wear political buttons, t-shirts or similar items at work
U.S. Office Of Special Counsel created this short video on the basics of the Hatch Act:
As well as a second video from 2016 with extensive details, further information and examples:
What the Hatch Act means for Government Contractors
These restrictions apply only to DoD personnel and do not apply to contractor employees. Therefore, there is no Federal prohibition on contractor employees engaging in political activity, such as displaying signs or actively campaigning in the Government workplace. However, there are probably regulations in the specific agency or similar language in an employment contract that mirrors the Hatch Act. It is probably best to adhere to the rules of Federal employees, though specific questions about political activity can be directed to the agency’s or employer’s legal counsel.
What the Hatch Act means for Military Service Members
The Hatch Act does not apply to actively serving uniformed members of the U.S. Armed Forces, although it does apply to Department of Defense civil servants, as well as Department of Homeland Security civil servants in direct support of the United States Coast Guard. Uniformed personnel are subject to Department of Defense Directive 1344.10 (DoDD 1344.10), Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces, and the spirit and intent of that directive is effectively the same as that of the Hatch Act for Federal civil servants. By agreement between the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security, DoDD 1344.10 also applies to uniformed personnel of the Coast Guard at all times, whether it is operating as a service in the Department of Homeland Security or as part of the Navy under the Department of Defense. Those with questions about their political activities can ask their agency legal counsel or the U.S. Office Of Special Counsel, who can help ensure laws and regulations are not violated.