The LCWR Office of Social Mission, headed by Sr. Ann Scholz, offers news about LCWR's many initiatives for social justice. The monthly digests are excellent ways to stay in touch with major issues and opportunities to act.
LCWR Office of Social Mission - July 2019
LCWR July Newsletter Available
The July 2019 edition of the LCWR newsletter is available online. You can access it HERE. You might be particularly interested in the following articles:
- Global Concerns Committee Anti-Racism Resource, p. 8
- 'Nuns Healing Hearts’ Exhibit at UN, p. 8
- LCWR Supports Gun Violence Prevention Legislation in the Senate, p. 8
- Join Simmons College in 40 Days of Prayer, p. 9
- HUD Threatens to Cut Housing Assistance to Immigrant Families, p. 10
- House Passes Sweeping Immigration Legislation, p. 10
- LCWR Sign Ons and Letters, p. 11
CMSM Offers a Justice and Peace Immersion Program in DC
The justice committee of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) is pleased to invite those interested to join them as they explore Intersectional Challenges: Poverty, Migration, and Racism in our Nation’s Capital, Oct. 14-17 in Washington D.C.
In the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching and praxis, local groups and religious leaders will share insightful social analysis and encounters, drawing on the practice of active nonviolence and a just peace ethic to both understand poverty, migration, and racism in the nation’s capital and to envision social transformation. Participants will have the opportunity to encounter the dynamics of some of most impoverished communities in the country, in the midst of one of its wealthiest areas and to explore the experiences of migrants intersecting with poverty, and structural challenges, such as gentrification.
The program will include visits to organizations working closely with those on the margins. We will learn from speakers with various viewpoints on these issues. There will be regular times for Mass, group prayer, and reflection on our encounters to deepen insight and friendship.
The CMSM Justice and Peace Immersion Program will begin on Monday October 14 at 6:30 pm with dinner and orientation and conclude on Thursday, October 17 at 1:00 pm. The group will be staying at the Washington Retreat House, 4000 Harewood Rd. NE, Washington DC 20017. The $250 registration fee includes housing, breakfast, and two dinners. *Scholarships are available. REGISTER by August 1, 2019
Presidential Announcement of New Immigration Proposal
This spring President Trump outlined the parameters of his immigration policy in a national speech. His merit-based plan would prioritize "high-skilled" workers over family unification and cut the number of green cards allocated for families.
Since the enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965, legal immigration to the United States has been based on either the family ties or the work skills of prospective immigrants allowing U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to reunite their families by bringing close relatives to the United States.
The contributions of family-based immigrants to the U.S. economy, local communities, and the national fabric are well established. Family-based immigration has grown the domestic economic growth, built the current and future labor force, played a key role in business development, and added one of the most upwardly mobile segments to the labor force.
While the full proposal has not yet been introduced into Congress, people of faith, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), are concerned about the President's proposed cuts to family-based immigration. Families are the foundation of faith and society. As Pope Francis has said: “Family is the place in which we are formed as persons. Each family is a brick that builds society.”
Faith-based advocates are urging Congress to confront the root causes of migration and to seek humane and just comprehensive immigration reform. To learn more about family immigration see the Justice for Immigrants toolkit.
“Lights for Liberty” Launches Vigil to End Detention Camps
On Friday July 12th, 2019, Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Detention Camps, will bring thousands of Americans to detention camps across the country, into the streets, and into their own front yards, to protest the inhumane conditions faced by migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.
Beginning at 7 p.m. on July 12th, advocates, activists’ and impacted persons will speak on the issue of human detention camps in the United States. At 9 p.m., around the country and around the world, participants will light candles in a silent vigil for all those held in US detention camps to bring light to the darkness of the Trump administration’s horrific policies.
Lights for Liberty is a coalition of people dedicated to human rights, and the fundamental principle that all human beings have a right to life, liberty and dignity. They are partnering with international, national, regional, and local communities and organizations who believe that these fundamental rights are not negotiable.
Key events are planned in El Paso, Texas, where migrants are being forced to wait outdoors with no running water for months at a time; in Homestead, FL, at a migrant child detention facility; in San Diego, near the point of entry site from Tijuana; in New York City at Foley Square, where hundreds of migrants are processed each day; and in Washington, DC in Lafayette Park, to demand action from Congress to end the injustice. Legislators, activists, organizers, and members of impacted communities will speak prior to the candlelight vigil. Find local events HERE.
South Sudan Celebrates Eight Years of Independence
On July 9, 2019, South Sudan will celebrate eight years since gaining independence from Sudan. The renewed peace effort needs the support of the power of prayer from people around the world.
Friends in Solidarity has prepared a prayer resource, available in English, Spanish, and French. Prayer may be the most important intervention we can make for the people of South Sudan at this time.
Friends in Solidarity is an initiative US Catholic religious men and women in support of religious working in South Sudan and beyond. It was incorporated as a not for profit in November 2015 as an outgrowth of interest in the work being done by Solidarity with South Sudan, a project begun by the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) and the Union of Superiors General (USG) in Rome in response to a request of the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference in 2006.
Solidarity with South Sudan seeks to support the people of Africa, especially South Sudan, through capacity building initiatives that include the training of teachers, health care professionals, and pastoral teams to raise awareness of about the situation in South Sudan while working work in collaboration with the Church in Africa as it accompanies, equips, and empowers the people to create a sustainable future where their full human potential may be realized.
Please consider marking this anniversary of independence and hope by donating today.
Faith in Public Life Launches New Video Campaign: Catholic Women Lead
Faith in Public Life (FPL) recently launched a new video campaign, Catholic Women Lead, which features the powerful and prophetic voices of Catholic women from across the country. In a series of videos, FPL highlights diverse Catholic women: a university president, an expert on Catholic-Muslim relations, a theologian, a divinity student, and a longtime leader in church transparency, speaking about why the church needs more women in positions of power and influence.
“Catholic women’s leadership is critical to renewing and reforming our church. We need more women at tables where decisions are made and represented in positions of power. I’m grateful for the Catholic women I know --- university presidents, theologians and activists – who make vital contributions to our public life and our church, challenge us and strengthen my faith,” John Gehring, Catholic Program Director for FNL.
Catholics Challenge President Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Policies
With the growing humanitarian crisis at the border and President Trump’s promise of raids and deportations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the interior, immigrants and advocates are pushing back against threats tochildren, parents, and families forcibly separated by the U.S. government.
The Justice for Immigrants (JFI) campaign put together a resource page, which is available in English and Spanish and provides information about exercising one’s rights when interacting with ICE. It also provides guidance on ways people can prepare their families for enforcement actions.
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) has produced a toolkit based on best practices and lessons learned from communities conducting rapid responses during ICE raids and arrests. It provides a plan of action for communities to support and guide people during and after a raid, as well as a how-to guide and a model notebook to help supporters build an inclusive rapid response team.
Washington-based Catholic organizations are planning a campaign to end the abuse of immigrant children and families by the U.S. government. The first phase is prayerful direct action in Washington DC, mid-morning on July 18th. Organizers hope to gather Catholics and other people of faith to call on this Administration to end the abuse and detention of children. The event will include prayer, ritual, and a call to action by Catholic leaders. Because of the urgency and depth of the injustice, there will also be an opportunity for those who choose to engage in a nonviolent action of civil disobedience. Those interested in participating in the July 18th event are encouraged to share their interest with organizers. Please register your interest HERE.
Ann Scholz, SSND
Associate Director for Social Mission
LCWR Office of Social Mission - June 2019
LCWR June Newsletter Available
The June 2019 edition of the LCWR newsletter is available online. You can access it HERE. You might be particularly interested in the following articles:
- Refugee Advocates Take to the Hill, p. 6
- Global Concerns Committee Shares Anti-Racism Resources, p. 6
- Bills to Protect Dreamers and TPS Recipients Introduced in Congress, p. 7
- Go Orange on June 7, p. 7
- LCWR Sign Ons and Letters, p. 8
- News from the UN, p. 12
Celebrate World Environment Day on June 5
Since 1974 World Environment Day has helped the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) raise awareness and generate political momentum around growing threats to the environment including the depletion of the ozone layer, toxic chemicals, desertification, and global warming. Millions of people have taken part over the years, helping drive change in consumption habits, and in national and international environmental policy.
The theme for 2019, “Beat Air Pollution,” invites people to consider how they can change their everyday lives to reduce the amount of air pollution they produce and end its contribution to global warming and its effects on everybody’s health. As the Secretary-General point out in his WED message, “This polluted air kills some 7 million people each year, causes long term health problems, such as asthma, and reduces children’s cognitive development. According to the World Bank, air pollution costs societies more than $5 trillion every year.”
Learn more about this year’s theme HERE and plan to take action to #BeatAirPollution.
Stand with Refugees on June 20—World Refugee Day
Today, an unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been displaced by war, humanitarian crisis, extreme poverty, natural disasters, political repression, and religious persecution. Some 25.4 million are refugees; most of those refugees are children. On average, one person is forcibly displaced every two seconds. They are quite literally fleeing for their lives.
The United States has a long and proud history of welcoming immigrants and sheltering refugees. Women religious have been blessed to be able to accompany immigrant and refugee communities for almost 300 years. Catholic sisters continue to welcome refugees who come to this country after passing through the U.S. government’s rigorous screening processes.
U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT) invites you to join them in honoring refugees. On June 20, World Refugee Day, we commemorate the strength, courage, and resilience of refugees. There is a well-established link between forced migration and human trafficking. Men, women, and children are made vulnerable to human trafficking by displacement. Impoverished, vulnerable families are targeted by traffickers who promise to provide education and opportunity only to exploit them through forced labor, sexual exploitation, enslavement, or organ theft.
Visit the USCSAHT website to learn about the 2019 campaign and discover more ways that you can support refugees on June 20, and throughout year. You’ll find backgrounders, resources for prayer, stories of trafficked immigrants and asylum seekers, sample social media posts, and more.
Stand in solidarity #WithRefugees and #StopRefugeeTrafficking on World Refugee Day, Thursday, June 20, 2019. Join USCSAHT in calling members of Congress and urging them to support two pro-refugee bills: H.R.2146 / S.1088 the GRACE Act; and H.R. 2214 / S.1123 the NO BAN Act.
Finally, please let us know how you are planning to commemorate World Refugee Day, 2019. Leave a note on the USCSAHT Facebook page.
Pass the Dream and Promise Act
Update: It passed!
On May 22 the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to send H.R. 6, the DREAM and Promise Act of 2019 to the full House for a vote. The legislation would provide legal residency status and for millions of Dreamers and residents of countries with temporary protected status (TPS).
For the past two years, the Administration has scheduled the termination of TPS for immigrants from several nations where conditions remain unstable and often dangerous. While the young immigrants currently enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have retained their status pending court action, the bill would codify their status regardless of the legal challenges and provide an eventual pathway to citizenship.
LCWR has long championed the cause of Dreamers and TPS recipients and fully supports the passage of H.R. 6, the DREAM and Promise Act of 2019. “LCWR is honored to stand with this nation’s Dreamers and TPS recipients. We invite members of the House to join us in acknowledging the gifts they offer our communities and to reaffirm the values upon which this nation was founded by supporting the passage of the Dream and Promise Act of 2019. It provides a commonsense path to justice for those who have long called the United States home and stability for our families, communities, and local economies,” according to Carol Zinn, Executive Director of LCWR.
We expect a vote in the full House in early June. While it is expected to garner majority support in the House, the bill will face significant opposition in the Republican controlled Senate.
Immigrant Advocates Challenge Banks’ Support for Private Prison Industry
Private prisons are a key component of President Trump’s plan to incarcerate immigrant children and families. Today, more than 70% of immigrants in immigration custody are incarcerated in private prisons. Research has indicated that many private prisons have documented histories of human rights abuses.
Private prison companies, like CoreCivic and GEO Group depend on funding from banks to conduct their day-to-day business operations, finance new facilities, and acquire smaller companies.
Families Belong Together (FBT) is working to change things by urging banks to cut off funding for private prisons. They played a major role in moving Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase to end their involvement in financing private prisons. Now they’ve turned their attention to Bank of America and Sun Trust. A 2019 analysis of the GEO Group and CoreCivic’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) 2018 filings, show that Bank of America and SunTrust have had a major role in financing these private prison companies.
FBT is demanding that Bank of America and SunTrust stop financing private prisons. Non-governmental organizations played a key in FBT’s campaign. They have used face-to-face meetings, social media, demonstrations and vigils, petition drives and drop-offs at banks, boycotts, congressional voices, and shareholder advocacy to leverage their support and change bank policy and practice.
Please consider signing their letter and find out more here about the national day of action on June 6. This is one way we can use our voices to cut off the corporate money behind President Trump’s cruel immigration policies that separate and incarcerate children and families.
If you have questions or would like to join the weekly calls, please contact Eli McCarthy at email@example.com or 510-717-8867.
Reject Administration Proposal to Weaken Controls on Firearms Exports
On May 15 more than a hundred organizations, including LCWR, sent a letter to Congress opposing the Trump Administration’s proposal that would significantly weaken regulation and oversight of firearms exports. The Administration has proposed a rule that would transfer control of exports of semi-automatic firearms and ammunition from the United States Munitions List under the authority of the Department of State to the less-stringent control of the Department of Commerce. Those signing the letter in opposition to the transfer include religious denominations, communities, and organizations; national and state gun violence prevention organizations; as well as human rights, education, arms control, peace, and domestic violence prevention organizations.
The groups warn that the transfer of export controls for semiautomatic pistols, assault-style firearms, sniper rifles, and ammunition to the Commerce Department, “will thwart congressional oversight and create new and unacceptable risks of exacerbating gun violence, human rights abuses, and armed conflict.”
In addition, the proposal would transfer control of the technical information and blueprints for potentially undetectable 3D-printed guns from State to Commerce, a move that could facilitate printing of 3D guns worldwide and make these weapons readily available to terrorist groups and other criminal elements.
The letter also explains, “The Administration’s proposal guts Congress’ authority to provide oversight of firearms exports. Currently, Congress is notified of firearms sales authorized by the State Department valued at $1 million or more. No such notification requirements will exist if these weapons are transferred to Commerce control. In recent years, Congressional notification has been an important backstop, helping forestall firearms transfers to repressive forces, such as those in Turkey and the Philippines.”
The organizations urged Congress to prohibit the transfer of the designated firearms out of the U.S. Munitions List and to maintain congressional oversight, as proposed in pending legislation, H.R. 1134, sponsored by Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA) and S. 459, sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
CSW 63 Commits to ‘Level the Playing Field” for Women and Girls
The 63rd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York March 11-22 2019. Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world attended the session.
Two weeks of intense dialogue led to a strong commitment by member states to safeguard and improve women’s and girls’ access to social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure, ensuring that their design and delivery is transformed to prevent discrimination and create a ‘level playing field’ for women and girls.
The Executive Director of UN Women, which serves as the CSW Secretariat, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said: “This annual gathering has never been bigger nor more significant for the women and girls of the world. The Commission’s recommendations pave the way for governments to engage and invest differently; involving women in policy dialogue and targeting initiatives that go to the heart of the largest barriers to the empowerment and voice of women and girls.”
The Agreed Conclusions, adopted by Member States, include concrete measures to bolster the voice, agency, and leadership of women and girls as beneficiaries and users of social protection systems, public services, and sustainable infrastructure.
Universal access to an old-age pension, quality health-care services and safe and affordable public transport can enhance women’s income security and independence, shape whether a small entrepreneur will get her products to market on time, and at what cost; or whether an adolescent girl can get safely to her school and has access to a toilet. This can determine whether girls go to school at all, what markets a woman farmer can access, and how much time she has left in a day to pursue other paid work or leisure.
As the single largest forum on gender equality and women’s rights for UN Member States, civil society organizations and other international actors, this year’s CSW saw a record number of attendances. Participants included more than 5,000 representatives from civil society organizations around the world, nearly 2,000 Member State delegates, and 86 ministers.
Court Hears Oral Arguments on 2020 Census Citizenship Question
On April 23rd the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the question of whether the Trump administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The Commerce Department, which is responsible for administering the census, says that it added the question at the request of the Department of Justice so that it can better enforce federal voting rights laws. Opponents question Secretary of Commerce Wilber Ross’s motives and fear that a citizenship question will discourage households from participating in the census and result in a dramatic undercount of U.S. residents.
The census has significant, decade-long impacts. The count determines the number of congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets, and federal funding distributed for schools, roads, and other public services.
Two federal judges have ruled to block the citizenship question. A ruling from the Supreme Court on whether the citizenship question is to be included or removed is expected in June.
House Considers the “Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act”
Representative Hank Johnson (GA-04), along with Representatives Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), José Serrano (NY-15), and Marcia Kaptur (OH-09), and with the support of 43 Members of Congress reintroduced H.R. 1945, the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act.
The bill seeks to ensure that the Honduran government, military, and police cannot commit crimes or acts of violence against the Honduran people with impunity. It would require immediate suspension of U.S. aid that arms and trains the Honduran military and police until human rights defenders are protected and security forces are prosecuted for flagrant human rights violations.
For years the U.S. has turned a blind-eye to the corrupt practices and human rights abuses of the Honduran government. Bill sponsors hope that by cutting funding to the police and military, they can force the government to investigate and prosecute these crimes against the people. “The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act sends a clear and strong message: that impunity will not be tolerated and that the Honduran government must hold human rights abusers accountable,” said Representative José Serrano (NY-15).
300 Religious Leaders, Organizations Call for Passage of the NO BAN Act
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) joined more than 300 faith leaders and organizations sending a letter to Congress urging the passage of the NO BAN Act. The bill was recently introduced by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Representative Judy Chu (D- CA 27) in both Houses of Congress. The act would repeal the current Muslim, asylum, and refugees bans and significantly limit the ability of future Presidents to ban people because of their religion or country of origin.
The letter states, in part:
We are called by our sacred texts and faith principles to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner. Our congregations, synagogues, and mosques have historically played key roles in assisting refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants, and other newcomers with housing, language, jobs, and social supports necessary to integrate and thrive. Yet, over the last two years, the administration has undertaken a series of attacks against our refugee, asylum seeking, and Muslim neighbors.
We cannot condone excluding people based on their nationality or religious background, but instead must work toward inclusivity and justice for all. Religious faith or national origin should never be an obstacle to whether we extend a hand of welcome to the refugee or the immigrant.
Proposed Bill Would Boost Child and Earned Income Tax Credits
Recently, U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) led 44 Senators in introducing the Working Families Tax Relief Act. The bill will cut taxes for workers and families by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), two of the most effective tools to put money in the pockets of working people and pull children out of poverty.
Sponsors claim that expanding both programs could give millions more Americans a foothold in the middle class by:
- Boosting the incomes of 46 million households and 114 million people, including 43 million children.
- Lifting 7 million people out of poverty, including 3 million children.
- Expanding the EITC for families with children by roughly 25 percent.
- Significantly expanding the EITC for workers without children and make
the credit available for people starting at age 19 up to age 67. Currently, workers without children can be pulled under the poverty line by taxes. Expanding the EITC would fix that.
- Making the CTC fully refundable, so the more than 26 million children who were left out of the Trump tax law get the support they deserve.
- Creating a Young Child Tax Credit to provide extra support to children five and under, when research says they need it most.
- Allowing workers to draw a $500 advance payment on their EITC so that families are not forced to turn to predatory payday lenders when the car breaks down or other unexpected expenses come up.
The Working Families Tax Relief Act also provides CTC parity for families in Puerto Rico who are currently treated as second class citizens and boosts Puerto Rico’s new Commonwealth-funded EITC. Read more about the bill HERE.
Bills to Protect Dreamers and TPS Recipients Introduced in Congress
Bills that would protect both Dreamers and those with Temporary Protective Status (TPS) have been introduced in the House and Senate. The bipartisan S. 874 the Dream Act of 2019, introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), would protect numerous immigrant youth from deportation, including the approximately 700,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. The bill offers qualifying immigrant youth “conditional permanent resident status” and a path to full lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship.
Senate bill S. 879 the Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression and Emergency Act(SECURE Act) sponsored by Senator Chris Van Hollen (D- MD), would protect Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders and provide them with a pathway to lawful permanent resident status. TPS is a renewable immigration status that allows individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for them to return home. DED is a discretionary and temporary stay of removal that is granted by the President to individuals from designated countries. There are approximately 320,000 TPS holders in the U.S. who have recently experienced cancellation of the TPS designation for their home country whose futures are currently being litigated in federal court.
Similar legislation was introduced earlier in the House. The Dream and Promise Act of 2019, H.R. 6, establishes a roadmap to U.S. citizenship for immigrant youth and current or potential holders of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). Like the Senate bills, H.R. 6 would provide conditional permanent resident status and a path to lawful permanent resident status and, eventually, U.S. citizenship for immigrant youth who entered the U.S. before age 18, have four or more years of residency, and graduated from high school (or the equivalent). It also provides an opportunity for people who currently have, or who may be eligible for TPS or DED, who have three or more years of residency to apply for lawful permanent resident status and, eventually, U.S. citizenship.