Everyone Counts

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

On April 1, 2020, the official Federal census will take place. It’s coming quickly and it’s very important to everyone who lives in the U.S.  The census takes place every ten years and is vitally important that everyone be counted including those who may not be citizens or even have legal papers to be in the country.  Why is it important that everyone be counted?

The census data is used at the Federal level:

  • To reapportion seats in the House of Representatives.
  • For state officials to redraw congressional and legislative districts based on population shifts.
  • To determine how to allocate more than $675 billion in Federal dollars supporting state and local community programs across the country.

This $675 billion is used for schools, hospitals, Head Start, WIC (Women, Infant, and Children), Solid Waste Management Grants, Section 8 Housing Vouchers, Native American Training and Employment and other programs for healthcare, education, housing, food and income security.  The amount given to a city or state for those programs depends on the number of individuals living in those cities/states based on the census count.

Unfortunately, some of the very people who are most impacted by the programs may be missed in the counting. These include children under five, low income households, immigrants, and rural residents.  Many people in these populations distrust the government and fear that they will be in danger from giving their information. The reality is that Census Data is required by law to be confidential. Individual responses cannot be shared with other government agencies but must be reported in statistical summary format only.  Other government agencies will not be given this information.

This is the first year that the census will be conducted on-line.  Invitations will be mailed to households with instructions on how to respond.  One person from each household will respond for all the members of the household. In our motherhouses and care centers, the administrators will submit information for each of the residents.  As a general rule, individuals will be counted where they live regardless of their relationship with the owner of the house or person submitting the information.

If you know or work with someone who is hesitant to respond to the census, please share this information with them and encourage them to be counted.  Everyone deserves to be counted!

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Justice Blog

Blog by Sr. Carol Ann Spencer, OP

In last week’s blog, Barbara Kane  noted that on November 12,2019, the Supreme Court  will hear oral  arguments about the legality of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ) program.  Some background to this important issue  may be helpful.

In 2012, the Department of Homeland Security initiated the DACA  program for certain undocumented individuals who came to the United States as children and met several  guidelines.  DACA was patterned after the DREAM Act, bipartisan legislation that was initiated more than a decade ago but has  not  become law.  The purpose of  DACA was to utilize prosecutorial  discretion  to provide undocumented persons who were brought to the United States when they were children with temporary relief from deportation and work authorization.  The status expires after two years, subject to renewal.

The current administration announced termination  of the DACA program on September 15,2017.  While this termination is now the subject of litigation and multiple nationwide preliminary injunctions, these are only partial and temporary.  This situation has  created  much anguish and uncertainty.  Dreamers are young people who include DACA  recipients, as well  as other undocumented individuals of  similar age group who were brought to the United States by their parents  as children.  They are contributors to our country,veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes. .  Dreamers are woven into the fabric of our country and our Church, and are, by every social and human measure, American youth.

We believe that the dignity of every  human being, particularly that of youth and families, must be protected and we believe that our nation has a moral  responsibility to provide a path to citizenship ,not only for DACA and the Dreamers, but for all those with Temporary Protected Status.  Use every opportunity to call on your members of Congress to find  a bipartisan legislative solution to protect all these young people and hardworking  families and pray that our Supreme Court will support the legality of DACA so that we may, once again , make a move to become a WELCOMING NATION.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

DACA Dreams

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

On November 12th, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about the legality of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Program.  DACA is an immigration option for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before the age of 16. Although it does not provide a pathway to lawful permanent residence, it does provide temporary protection from deportation, work authorization, and the ability to apply for a social security number.

Below is a written response by one DACA teen living in Kansas about why he needs to get a work authorization. He was brought to the U.S. as a 9-year-old when his parents moved to the U.S. to be able to provide enough food and education for their five children. They have had another child since moving to the U.S.

“I want a work permit because I want to help my parents out.  I see that they struggle a lot especially since there’s six children in our family.  I want to be able to help pay the bills and take some weight off their backs.  It’s hard for my parents to keep food on our table.  Some days I go to bed hungry.  I want to give my little brother and little sister a better life style than the one I lived.  That’s why I want a permit.

I also have crooked teeth.  They overlap and they don’t match with each other when I eat.  I went to the dentist four times this year.  That’s why my expenses are so high.  The dentist says I really need braces.  There’s no way my parents can afford that.  This is why I want my work permit so my parents don’t have to worry about another bill.

I also want a permit because I want to go to college and study to be an architect.  I know my parents won’t be able to help out.  I want to work so I can save and go to my dream college, Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS.”

His dreams mirror the dreams of many young people who have fled violence and climate disaster to make a life of peace in the United States.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Gun Safety Legislation

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

I have gun safety legislation on my mind.  The governor of Ohio (Mike DeWine) just spelled out his plan to prevent gun violence in Ohio. This was especially important since we had a shooting in Dayton, Ohio where nine people were killed.  The citizens of Dayton and neighboring cities demanded that he “DO SOMETHING.”   Unfortunately, Governor DeWine’s proposal falls short of expectations.

It’s really baffling to me why our legislators, both state and federal, have so much trouble protecting their constituents from gun violence. After all, the costs associated with it are huge. The Gifford Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence reports these statistics:

These healthcare costs, costs to employers, law enforcement and criminal justice costs and lost income add up to the billions.  Yes, you read that right, billions!  Interestingly, Connecticut has the most restrictive gun laws in this group and they have the fewest people killed and lowest costs associated with gun violence.  So much for more guns providing safer neighborhoods.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have some of that money for things like education, healthcare, job training, refugee resettlement, etc?

Polling by the Washington Post – ABC found that “89% of voters support expanding background checks to cover private sales and gun-show transactions and 86% support Red Flag provisions that allow guns to be taken from people judged to be a danger to themselves or others.”  These include Republicans, white evangelical Christians, and gun owners.  Really how much clearer do citizens have to make themselves about this issue?

That’s what’s so disappointing about Governor DeWine’s proposal.  It doesn’t include either of these issues.   There are a bunch of bills sitting in Ohio’s House and Senate.  Just sitting… since they have not had a hearing.  It’s kind of like Federal House Bill 8 which was passed by the House. It’s a Background Check Bill that has yet to even be introduced into the Senate.  It just sits even though the vast majority of citizens want it passed.

In almost every one of the states where we minister, advocates are working to pass gun safety legislation or stop dangerous gun bills like Ohio H.B. 178 or Kansas S.B. 45 which are Permitless Carry Bills.  Unfortunately, Kentucky recently enacted a law that would allow anyone who legally owns a gun to carry it concealed under a coat, in a purse or hidden in a holster without a permit and without any training requirement.

There is plenty of evidence that less gun legislation results in more gun violence.  It’s really time for all our legislators to DO SOMETHING and stop the proliferation of guns in the U.S.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Trump: Pro-Life?

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

In Mr. Trump’s 2019 State of the Union speech made last February, he stated, “Let us reaffirm a fundamental truth:  All children – born and unborn – are made in the holy image of God.”  I certainly agree with this statement although I question whether the president really believes it.  During Pro Life month, here is some evidence that he doesn’t really understand what this means.

Pulling U.S. troops out of Syria and knowing what the Turkish president had planned, the president definitely put Kurdish children at risk. At this writing (Friday), two children have been killed by the Turkish assault.  Two children made in the image of God are dead because of a campaign promise. (Independent.co.uk)

From September 2018 to May 2019, six migrant children (three of them unaccompanied) died while in Customs and Border Patrol custody.  According to the ACLU, over 900 children have been separated from their parents since June 2018. This despite a federal court order to stop.  900 children made in the image of God jailed because they are poor and have brown skin. (ACLU.org)

The administration has conducted an assault on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) since the beginning of its tenure. The latest proposed rule change would continue to restrict eligibility resulting in the loss of benefits for 1.9 m children. 500,000 of these children would also lose access to free school meals.  Millions of children made in the image of God, going to bed hungry each night so that the rich can enjoy a tax cut.

In 2019 alone, 755 children have been killed and 2,170 injured by gun violence according to the Gun Violence Archive (gunviolencearchive.org). And yet, Mr. Trump refuses to put forward or support any gun safety legislation.  2,170 children made in the image of God, dead because legislators are too cowardly to go against a very, very small group of gun advocates.

According to the CDC, as many as 1,000 to 4,300 additional premature deaths will occur each year as a result of pollution if nothing is done to clean up the air.  Yet, the administration continues to gut restrictions on vehicle emissions and methane gas leaks.  1,000 unborn children made in the image of God dead so that companies can make more money.  (cdc.org)

So…. Mr. Trump, do you honestly believe that all children are made in God’s image?  If so, why don’t you practice what you preach and stop implementing the cruel actions that you are doing.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog