Peace & Justice Blog

Stay up to date on peace and justice issues, both locally and internationally, and learn how you can take action.


 

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

Attack on Immigrants

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Migrant Protection Protocol…. Remain in Mexico….. family separation…. Lowest refugee ceiling in recent history…. Bans on Muslims…. ICE raids….  The attack on immigrants has been relentless and increasingly brutal.  The recent action – to reduce the number of refugees to be resettled to a mere 18,000 is just the latest action.  What does this mean?

This number refers to those who are accepted into the U.S. Resettlement Program (USRP).  A refugee is a person outside of his/her country who is unable or unwilling to return to his/her country of nationality because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

The U.N. recommends groups for resettlement. These individuals apply in their own country or resettlement camps in neighboring countries for entry into the US and where they will be settled. They receive extreme vetting.  Since the program started in 1980, an average of 95,000 refugees were resettled in the U.S. There are currently around 40,000 who have gone through the process and are ready to be resettled. Sadly, the administration recently announced that they would only admit 18,000 in 2020.   These 18,000 will be used to resettle 4,000 Iraqis who have assisted our forces there, 1,500 refugees from Central America’s Northern Triangle, 5,000 refugees fleeing religious persecution, and a remainder of 7,500 for other needs.

In 2018 only 1 out of 500 refugees needing resettlement received it with only the most vulnerable refugees being considered for resettlement. Reasons for admittance include medical needs, children at risk, women and girls at risk, and survivors of violence/torture.

The decline in the U.S. refugee admissions comes at a time when the number of refugees worldwide has reach the highest levels since WW 2 to 70.8 million. Around 80% of the world’s refugees have been living in exile for 5 years and around 1/5 of them for 20 years.  Violence, war, economic collapse, and climate change are the primary reasons that refugees flee their countries.

Many of the members of the House of Representatives don’t like this reduction.  They have introduced HR 2146, the Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement (GRACE) Act to ensure that the U.S. would admit no fewer than 95,000 refugees each year.  Call your representative if you think the U.S. has a responsibility to welcome those in need.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

The Season of Creation

Blog by Sr. Terry Wasinger, OP

In a few days, we will be celebrating the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, and the end of the 2019 Season of Creation.   The Season of Creation is a new Liturgical Season for the global Catholic Community under the leadership of Pope Francis.  It extends annually from September 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation to the Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

The Eastern Orthodox Patriarch Dimitri declared September 1 as the World Day of Creation in 1989.  In 2007, the Third European Ecumenical Assembly adopted this day to celebrate creation. The following year the world Council of Churches called for the observation for the Season of Creation.  This was embraced by Pope Frances in 2015.   It is now celebrated by a number of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox churches as an addition to the ordinary time of the lectionary schedule which begins after Pentecost and ends with Advent.    During this 30-year ecumenical/orthodox history, the idea of extending the liturgical season to October 4 gradually emerged.

The Season focuses on God as Creator of the vast cosmic universe, God’s revelation in Creation and our response to our responsibility to care for God’s creation. It addresses the urgent need to protect creation’s rich diversity.  The liturgical theme for 2019 has been The Web of Life: Biodiversity as God’s Blessing.  Pope Francis has frequently warned against the technocratic mentality that approaches creation as simply resources to be used to meet human needs and desires.  Without humility before nature, people have too often been inadequately aware of or sensitive to the complex interconnections that make up the Web of Life.  We, on the Eco-Justice Committee, became aware of this new liturgical season just recently and will be looking forward to participating more fully in the Season of Creation in 2020.

As we enter the autumn season, take a look around and appreciate the spiritual blessings that come from God’s generous creation.

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog