Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Join Dominican Sisters of Peace as we strive to bring PEACE and justice to our world in this post-truth era. Each week, our Justice Promoter will share important information (including action alerts, prayer opportunities and much more) that will help you to spread peace in your own local community and our world at large.


 

Justice Updates 10-15-19

The US Department of Agriculture just proposed another rule that would cut SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan).It just another in a long string of efforts to hurt hungry households.  This time, $4.5 Billion over five years would be cut based on how states take household utility costs into account to determine SNAP benefits.  19% of SNAP households would get lower monthly benefits disproportionality impacting elderly people and people with disabilities. The administration continues to defy Congress who did not include these changes in the 2018 Farm Bill.  Tell the USDA that you think this change is wrong by commenting here. Comments must be made by December 2, 2019

The administration is planning to privatize housing for unaccompanied or separated migrant children. Here’s the latest action by the administration to get around rules associated with treatment of children.

For decades, the oceans have served as a crucial buffer against global warming, soaking up roughly a quarter of the carbon dioxide that humans emit from power plants, factories and cars, and absorbing more than 90 percent of the excess heat trapped on Earth by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Without that protection, the land would be heating much more rapidly. Read more about a UN Report explaining how the oceans are in danger.

World Food Day is October 24th. Check out this webinar, “How Our Food Choices Can Save the Planet” presented by Catholic Climate Covenant.  Our food system is responsible for over a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. We can make food choices that are sustainable, less wasteful, and just.  The webinar is Thursday, October 24 from 2:00 – 3:00 pm (eastern time).   To register click here.

Back in January and February and later in July, our sisters and associate traveled to El Paso, TX to work with asylum seekers at Annunciation House.  The difference between the first visits and later visits were dramatic largely due to the MPP – Migrant Protection Protocol – or Remain in Mexico program.  CBS News did a three-part series on the policy and its impact on thousands of asylum seekers.

Part 1. “Leave me in a cell”: The desperate pleas of asylum seekers inside El Paso’s immigration court.

Part 2. “I fear for our lives”: Asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico face danger and desperation

Part 3. Advocates say “Remain in Mexico” policy turns migrants into a “marketable commodity”

The administration continues to make it hard for immigrants – both legal and undocumented by using executive orders and rule changes.  Here are two examples:

Restrictions have been placed on the Diversity Visa Lottery making it harder for low-income immigrants to apply.

Another rule change may result in immigrants who have work visas will have trouble getting green cards if they need assistance.

 

Robert Ellsberg speaks on whistleblowing, truth-telling and the Pentagon Papers

Farming is critical for providing the food we eat but it is also a huge cause of climate change.  Here are two films showing farmers trying to change their practices to mitigate the impact on climate.

Farmers Footprint (20 minutes) seeks to expose the science behind glyphosate’s (i.e. RoundUp Herbicide) impact on human and environment health through the lens of human stories that illuminate the impacts on farmers and their communities.

The Need To GROW (90 minutes) highlights the hearts and innovations of three very different leaders – an 8-year-old girl challenging the ethics of a beloved organization – a renegade farmer struggling to keep his land as he revolutionizes resource-efficient agriculture – and an accomplished visionary inventor facing catastrophe in the midst of developing a game-changing technology.

If you didn’t see this yesterday in OP Peace… The Catholic Action for Immigrant Children Campaign will hold its third protest to lift up concerns about the immigration system, access to asylum, and growing racism. They have protested in Washington, DC, Newark, NY and now in El Paso, TX. To support them, they have asked us to join the National Call-In Day, A Journey for Justice, on Tuesday, October 15.  Call the Department of Homeland Security to demand justice for immigrants.  The Operator Number is 202-282-8000.  The comment line is 202-282-8495.  Here’s a suggested script but try to use your own words:

Hello, my name is (insert name) from (Location: City, State, Zip Code). As a person of faith (and a Catholic sister/lay person), I am calling DHS to demand humane changes on immigration policies. As Catholic leaders we are asking the Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to honor the dignity and rights of all immigrants and to:

Recognize the sacred covenant, internationally recognized, legal right to seek a asylum, stop the Remain in Mexico Program, stop the use of the “metering list”, make Due Process the standard NOT the exception, collaborate with NGOs and local communities to support and expand humane services for Asylum Seekers, provide additional funding for immigration courts and asylum officers.

Thank you for your time and God bless you.

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

10-8-19 Justice Updates

Keep in your prayers the attendees at the Amazon Synod. There are some significant issues being discussed.  At the Amazon synod, the church must stand with indigenous people to protect creation.

The Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region was controversial long before it began this fall. Self-described orthodox Catholics have worried over its potential impact far from the Amazon. One of the issues to be discussed at the synod is the acute shortage of priests in the nine countries that make up Amazonia.

A proposal that has been kicked down the road for years is the ordination of what are known as viri probati, a Latin expression best translated as “family men of virtue.” Some view it as an opening for the wider church to begin accepting married men for the priesthood. (News flash, it already does in a number of traditions united to Rome.) Worse, they suspect the crashing of the male celibate priesthood by male not-so-celibates could be a vanguard move to women’s ordination.

These anxieties are confounding to the bishops and laypeople who actually live in the Amazon, who are acutely aware of the spiritual devastation the priest shortage is causing. Many Amazon communities may not see a priest more than two or three times a year.

But the synod’s working document, building on the agenda set out in the pope’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home), actually devotes most of its ink to different crises of the Amazon—the unique fragility of its ecology and a related threat to the self-determination of its indigenous people. And the Amazon bishops’ intervention on these matters could not be more timely.

For more information and some excellent articles about it, click here.  I recommend Amy Woolam Echeverria’s From Cry to Song: Protecting our Climate and Biodiversity.

Take action.  

Senate Bill 102:  A bipartisan bill called Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 has been introduced into the Senate.  It sets a rebate for all prescription drug price hikes above inflation, prohibiting pharmaceutical companies from arbitrarily raising their prices to increase profits.  For more information, see this backgrounder from Network.  Call you senators and urge them to support S. 2534.

Senate Bill 2137: The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2019. Increasing energy efficiency could meet more than 30% of our expected electricity generation needs by 2030.  This bipartisan legislation would improve energy efficiency in homes, businesses, and major industry including federal buildings and facilities.

House Representatives 2143: The administration just reduced the number of refugees who could be resettled to 18,000. Call your representative and ask him/her to support HR 2146, the GRACE (Congress has the power to uphold America’s legacy by passing the Guaranteed Refugee Admission Ceiling Enhancement (GRACE) Act, a bill that would ensure the U.S. welcomes no fewer than 95,000 refugees a year, in line with the historic norms.

Dayton, Ohio’s Mayor Nan Whaley has been a vocal advocate for gun safety legislation. Here is a sign-on letter to get the Senate moving on a Background Check Bill.

From Mayor Whaley:

I have been fighting for our leaders in Ohio and D.C. to take action on gun reform. Too many lives have been lost while our elected leaders have failed to act.

It’s time to do something. 

This February, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to take action on the bill, despite 90% of Americans supporting the universal background checks for gun sales in H.R. 8.

SIGN NOW: Add your name to demand Mitch McConnell to take a vote on H.R. 8!

Together, we can enact commonsense gun reform legislation.

Thank you,

Nan Whaley

Mayor of Dayton, OH

Can Meatless Monday make a difference? Check out this article from NCR.

Phil St. Romaine of the Heartland Spirituality Center penned this “Impeachment Survival Guide: How to Retain Your Sanity and Get Along with Others During a Time of Political Crisis.”  Read it here or you can purchase a Kindle version on Amazon for $1.00.

What happens when an asylee gets sent back to Mexico to wait for an asylum hearing?  Advocates argue “that the program violates U.S. law because it forces migrants to wait in places where they’re not safe and can’t get lawyers…. The human toll is enormous, with vulnerable migrants targeted in dangerous Mexican border towns.”  Read more in this NPR story.

The International Dominican Commission for Justice and Peace released this statement in conjunction with the UN summit on climate change. They invite us to commit to all levels with an ecological conversions and spirituality, consistent with the lines of guidance and action of Laudato Si’ with children and youth as protagonists. Read the entire statement.

The 10th Anniversary Talitha Kum General Assembly took place on September 21-27 in Rome.  During the assembly delegates reflected on the reality of human trafficking around the world and the priorities for the work of Talitha Kum International for the next five years.  Read the Final Declaration from the Assembly.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – October 1, 2019

The recent Climate Strike demonstrated that young people are serious about making change in our climate crisis.  The earlier March for our Lives showed their desire to build a safer world by changing gun violence legislation.  Young people are our hope for the future. Read why David Gergen and James Piltch believe that we need them to take charge in Young People Offer Urgent Moral Clarity to Do-nothing Adults.

You can make a difference.

  • 1 reusable water bottle = 167 plastic water bottles
  • 1 reusable bag = 170 plastic bags
  • 1 reusable cup = 500 coffee cups
  • 1 metal straw = 540 plastic straws
  • 1 cloth towel = 7,300 paper towels  (Unwaste the Planet)

Some sobering facts about pollution:

  • Americans produce more trash than any other country on earth — 6pounds per person, per day, which amounts to 251 million tons a year. 50% of this trash is sent to landfills, where is slowly decomposes and produces greenhouse gases. Plastic that is not recycled often ends up in the ocean and is especially harmful to wildlife. (Discovery)
  • 85% of registered voters support requiring electric utilities to use 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050. (Yale Program on Climate Change Communication)

Want to know why it’s so important to implement gun safety legislation?  Each day 8 children die from gun violence in America and another 32 are shot and injured.  Check out this Public Service Announcement  and this fact sheet from Sandy Hook Promise.

The good news is that the poverty rate in 2018 dropped since 2017 by .5% from 12.3% to 11.8%.  The bad news is that this still represents 38.1 million people. Poverty rates for children under age 18 decreased 1.2% from 2017 to 16.2%.  Programs that could help this trend continue are being cut. For more information about the 2018 census, click here.

Curious about what it means and takes to impeach a president? This four-minute video from NPR gives you an overview.

According to the New York Times asylum seekers are growing desperate at the border in this article :Desperate Migrants on the Border: ‘I Should Just Swim Across.

The Criminal Justice System has been called the new Jim Crow in an excellent book by Michelle Alexander. Here are some statistics about the system.

  • 50% of all adults in America has had a family member in jail or prison. (Fwd.us)
  • 66% of prisoners at the federal level and about 50% at the state level are in for drug related offenses. (Calvin College Prison Initiative)
  • 27 states allow for people to be charged with “felony murder” even when the defendants did not set out to kill anyone or even play a direct role in the death itself. (American Civil Liberties Union)
  • In a given year, over 160,000 people are incarcerated for a “technical violation” of probation or parole, such as a failed drug test. (The Prison Policy Initiative)
  • In 2018, the US incarcerated 655 out of every 100,000 its citizens. For comparison, Russia imprisoned 415, England & Wales 142, France 102 and Germany 77. (Calvin College Initiative)
  • Most American states spend more on their prisons than they do on education. 15 states spend at least $27,000 more per prisoner than they do per student. The leader is California which invests $64,642 per prisoner compared to $11,495 per student – a $53,146 difference in spending priorities. New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island round out the top states spending more on prisons. (The Daily Mail)
  • 76% of people in local jails are not convicted of a crime, and many are there simply because they can’t afford money bail. (The Prison Policy Initiative)
  • On average, a phone call from a local jail costs over 3 times more than a phone call from a state prison. Nationally, the average cost of a 15-minute call from jail is $5.61. The states with the highest rates are: Arkansas $14.49, Michigan $12.03, Montana $9.24, Kansas $8.49 & North Dakota $8.20. (Prison Policy Initiative)
  • The Rand Corp. recently completed a study of the effects of education in prison and found the following:
    • Education in prison lowers recidivism rate by at least 43%
    • Increases chances of employment by 28%
    • For every $1 spent on education, reduces incarceration rate by $4-5
Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – September 24, 2019

Need help with how to talk to people who have a different view than you do?  Watch/attend the Blessed are the Peacemakers workshop/webinar.  Here’s the flyer.

Call your Senator to support S. 1743 now.   During this Season of Creation (September 1 – October 4), the U.S. Catholic community is calling for national and international climate action. Failure to act on the climate crisis will mean increased flooding, droughts, heatwave, loss of biodiversity, and sea-level rise.  The most vulnerable – the poor, the elderly, children – will be the first and most impacted. Call your Senators and urge them to support S. 1743, the International Climate Accountability Act, a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by 46 Senators.

The International Climate Accountability Act calls upon the U.S. to remain a leader in the global efforts to address climate change.  It asks the administration to develop and submit a plan that enables our nation to meet our commitments under the Paris Agreement, which our nation and 193 other nations signed.  The agreement’s central aim is to keep global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit to it to 1 1/2 degrees Celsius.  The agreement is a major step by the world’s nations to address the climate crisis and ensure a livable future for all peoples and our common home.  On June 1, 2017, the president withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement.  Call your senators and ask them to support Senate Bill 1743.

Sometimes it feels like we are talking to the wind when we stress the importance of stopping the climate crisis. NCR’s article “Americans are waking up: Two-thirds say climate crisis must be addressed” shows that we are not alone.

Two years ago, the administration attempted to dismantle the DACA program. Today no additional DACA applications are allowed.  The Supreme Court will take up this issue on November 12th. Oral arguments for and against DACA will be made on that day. Please keep the DACA recipients in your prayers especially on that day.  For more information, click here.

The Census Data for 2018 was released on September 10.  Danilo Trisi from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains that many programs that the administration wants to cut actually “help improve children’s chances of growing up healthier, doing better in school, and having higher expected future earnings.” Read more here.

The Justice Blog talks about the impact of methane on the environment. For more information, read this article in the New York Times.  Curbs on Methane, Potent Greenhouse Gas, to Be Relaxed in U.S.

David Dark suggests in American Magazine that we stop reacting to Mr. Trump and start responding.  Given the fatigue associated with what’s happening every day, this is a tall order. Read his blog here.

Cutting aid will not stop immigration.  Stemming the tide of immigrants at the southern border requires work to eliminate or at least alleviate the root causes of the immigration – climate change, corruption, poverty.  The administration froze aid to the triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvatore, effectively eliminating help and increasing a motivation to come to the U.S. Geoff Thale, vice president for programs at the Washington Office on Latin America a think tank stated “Nobody thinks these programs are going to magically stabilize Central America or reduce migration figures overnight. But cutting them off just increases people’ vulnerability and can make a real difference in people’ calculations to leave.” This article from NPR describes what’s happening in Guatemala as a result of cutting funding.

 

 

 

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Updates – September 17, 2019

There’s hope.  The July 5, 2019 issue of Science explains that the restoration of trees remains among the most effective strategies for climate change mitigation.  Scientists showed through modeling that an additional .9 billion hectares (a hectare is about 2.471 acres) of forest (around 500 billion trees) could be planted that would store more than 200 gigatons of additional carbon.  Can’t plant 500 billion trees?  Plant one.


JOIN A CLIMATE STRIKE NEAR YOU THIS FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20.

Administration is rolling back rules requiring more energy-efficient bulbs.  In 2007, a bipartisan Congress said that requiring energy efficient light bulbs was the right idea.  This administration disagrees.  Read more here.

My heart breaks each time the administration rolls back another environmental protection.  What are we giving to our grandchildren and nieces and nephews?  Here is a list of 85 environmental rules being eliminated by the president from The New York Times.

According to a poll conducted by National Public Radio, most Americans want to see Congress Pass Gun Restrictions.  Here’s more. The Senate hasn’t done ANYTHING. Call them now and demand action to address gun violence in our country.

So far, the House of Representatives has passed H.R. 8 Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 and H.R. 112 Enhanced Background Checks Act.  The House Judiciary Committee just voted to move the following acts to the floor:

  • R. 1236, the “Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of2019”: This bill would provide grants to help state, tribal and local efforts to remove firearms from individuals determined to be a danger to themselves or others. Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws are more commonly known as “red flag” laws. What are they? Check here.
  • R. 1186, the “Keep Americans Safe Act”:This bill would regulate large capacity ammunition feeding devices, such as a magazine or belt, making it illegal to import, sell, manufacture or possess such devices.
  • R. 2708, the “Disarm Hate Act”:This bill would prevent a person convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime from obtaining a firearm.

Do you want to know why gun safety activists want to get assault weapons off the market?  Consider this information from the Brady Organization. Here’s the breakdown of the weapons used in some of the deadliest mass shootings of the past few years:

Poway: AR-15
Aurora: AR-15
Dayton: AR-15
Odessa: AR-15
Orlando: AR-15
Parkland: AR-15
Las Vegas: AR-15
Tree of Life Synagogue: AR-15
Sandy Hook: AR-15
Umpqua Community College: AR-15
Waffle House: AR-15
Texas Church: AR-15
San Bernardino: AR-15

Call your legislators – federal and state – and tell them you want these weapons banned and support the bills moving onto the floor of the  House of Representatives (HR 1236, 1186, 2708.)


National voter registration day is soon.
If you are registered to vote, please check to make sure because some states are purging their roles.  It is especially important if you have moved since the last election.  Check here to find out if you are registered.


Nik Mitchell, Ph.D. of the Jesuit Social Research Institute has written that white terrorism has been with us from the beginning of slavery
400 years ago in his blog Bigots, Bullets and Blood: 400 years of white terrorism from Jamestown to El Paso.

It is ghoulish coincidence that, as of the writing of this essay, another act of domestic terrorism has happened in the same month that marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the English colony of Jamestown. These men and women were not the first enslaved Africans in the Western Hemisphere, but it does mark the introduction of an ideology into the foundation of American civilization that stretches across the centuries from slave ports of Africa and the Caribbean to the auction blocks of Jackson Square, the burning of Rosewood, the detonating of a truck bomb outside the Federal building in Oklahoma City, a race riot in Charlottesville, and to a Walmart in El Paso in 2019— white supremacy. In America, we often ignore the fact that white supremacy is one of the most consequential political ideologies in human history.

First, I feel it is necessary to state the obvious—being a racist is not a mental health issue. People choose to be racist. The classic retort of “it’s the way I was raised” is a cop-out that screams, “I am not a self-actualized adult, and I have surrendered my ability to think.” Racism is, and the same is true for all forms of bigotry, an enabler that allows a racist to ignore the screams of their victims while they destroy their humanity, physically and spiritually. White supremacy is this brutality elevated to a political ideology, and its chief historical and contemporary currency is terrorism. This begs two questions. First, “What do the white supremacists want?” White supremacists want what their name suggests, a return to a society where they could oppress with impunity. Second, “What do white supremacists fear?” They fear churches next to synagogues next to mosques. They fear interracial and multilingual families. They fear being locked out of cities, suburbs, small towns, and rural villages. They fear a better way of being.

It is not the job of the targets of white supremacist terrorism to cure a virus that incubates in white society, because they, the targets, have no access to the spaces where this form of bigotry germinates. This is not merely a matter of educating the ignorant. Contrary to the widely taught maxim, racism is not an act of ignorance. It is a willful decision that requires a racist to deny all evidence, which is robust, that disproves their assertions. The demand from sections of white society that the marginalized attempt to convince the willfully racist of their humanness is grotesque. To be clear:

  • Political correctness is not the problem.
  • Bilingual communities are not the problem.
  • Immigration is not the problem.
  • Feminism is not the problem.
  • LGBTQ visibility and rights are not the problem.
  • The coming population shift is not the problem.

White supremacy is the problem.

White supremacy is a foundational idea in American culture, but so is the resistance, including white resistance, to white supremacy. I do not hold every white person walking the street as responsible for white supremacist terrorism, but I will lay the task of eradicating it at their feet because, in the end, only white people can truly banish this ideology to the dustbin of history. They must refuse to tolerate it in their midst, regardless of whether it is a view held by family member, a friend, or even a lover. In this case, silence is a form of complicity. (Jesuit Social Research Institute. Number 98. August 2019)

Sixty of the 100 killings that occur with a gun EVERY DAY, are suicides.  Daniel Misleh describes how you can help someone who has lost a loved one to suicide.


US Catholic Sisters against human trafficking posted this heartbreaking story about trafficking in Those Who Don’t Survive. . . And Those Who Do By Marlene Weisenbeck, FSPA

Lisa McCormick and her son Jeffrey

Most often we speak about the “survivors” of human trafficking when we reference people who have escaped the violent control of their perpetrators. Less often do we talk about those who do not survive, those who have died at the hands of their traffickers. This story is about Lisa McCormick and her son Jeffrey. Jeffrey did not survive the events which ultimately resulted in his death. With a home in rural Wisconsin, Jeffrey was a 17-year-old boy recruited into a sex trafficking ring out of Madison, WI and exploited until his death in September 2016. His mother, Lisa, has survived the horrific reality of losing a son who was trafficked.

Lisa never dreamed that this would happen in their family. The family moved from Alabama to Wisconsin when Jeff was in the first grade. In his rural school, Jeff tried hard to “fit in” over the years. Although making efforts to succeed in sports, it was not his thing. In middle grades, he was their best dancer, and for that he was bullied and picked on by other boys. Jeff became anxious and depressed. There were angry and violent days when he started cutting himself. At the age of eleven (6thgrade) he began using marijuana and by 7th and 8th grade was experimenting with drugs such as Triple C, an over-the-counter medication for colds. Taking 20, 40 and 60 pills at a time, Jeff developed severe gastrointestinal issues. In grade 9 he began stealing meds from his father’s medicine cabinet. Even more lethal drugs like meth, cocaine, and LSD became a regular diet for him. Changes in his skin, dry hair, panic attacks, and hallucinations were easy to see. He could no longer verbalize his needs.

In Jeff McCormick’s short life as a vulnerable youth, there are stories about running away, becoming homeless, getting picked up by men who promised him good things, but who forced him to have sex with women and dance in gentlemen’s clubs in order to make money to pay back his traffickers. He was missing for weeks, kept in a drug stupor and physically violated in various ways evidenced by the burn marks on his body. Although 17 years in age, he was considered and treated like an adult by law enforcement and transferred numerous times in and out of treatment centers, jails, shelters, and hospitals. The traffickers began threatening his mother on social media with verbal violence while insisting on knowing Jeff’s court dates. Lisa, his mother, knew nothing about what Jeff had been through—the fact that he had been sold on Craig’s list, forced to work in Sioux City, Iowa, overdosed in a hospital and eventually released to his mother.

In June of 2016, Jeff was at home as a very violent and disturbed son. He continued to run away, returning to Iowa on one occasion. A few months later on September 30, 2016, Lisa was notified by the sheriff that Jeff had died of an overdose of fentanyl laced with other substances. During funeral preparations, an envelope was sent to the home with photos of physical violence by the traffickers showing how they exercised control over Jeff. Two traffickers stalked the family by putting their pictures on social media, showing up at the funeral visitation and at the cemetery. Lisa states that she “lost it” at that point, vowing that she would do all in her power to prevent other families from going through such an ordeal.

Lisa has turned this experience into a personal mission to help others. She has made it her life’s purpose to share her family’s story so others understand trafficking and how easily our vulnerable children can get caught up in it. She speaks on the topics of sex trafficking, drug addiction, bullying, acceptance, and her faith throughout her personal journey as a parent survivor of a sex trafficking victim. She educates groups to encourage them to know the signs of at risk youth, to not be afraid to talk to them and show them care and to give them someone to trust. Walking alongside parents, grandparents, caregivers, and others, Lisa is a living beacon of hope so that they are not alone in this journey. She is a member of the Wisconsin Anti-Human Trafficking Advisory Council and is featured in the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families documentary film, It Happens Here, on youth sex trafficking in Wisconsin – soon to be released along with a school curriculum on human trafficking in 2020. She is a frequent speaker throughout Wisconsin for educational and professional organizations as well as at schools, churches and public awareness events. Lisa has been instrumental in developing a program with the Janesville, WI police department called SLOTH (Supporting Loved Ones through Hardships). Over the long term, Lisa’s continuing efforts will be evident in the development of Destiny Center in Juneau County, a residential home for girls in recovery from addictions and trafficking.

When the author of this column was educated by survivors of human trafficking in Washington D.C. while serving on the White House Advisory Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (2012-2013), survivors would convey that the life expectancy of trafficked individuals, particularly women, was between 37-50 years of age. The reasons were obvious: their bodies were spent and worn out from multiple rapes, beatings, from diseases resulting from sexual contact, multiple forced abortions and relentless work under inhuman and illegal conditions. One author states that “The average life expectancy of someone in commercial sexual exploitation is seven years. Start at 14, dead by 21. The mortality rate for someone in commercial sexual exploitation is 40 times higher than for a non-exploited person of the same age.”

The calculations are brutal, yet believable, especially when considering U.S. Life Expectancy by gender and race or ethnicity. (See the attached chart.) The data is informative and convincing that human trafficking creates a major health issue in the world. Moreover, it is a life issue which begs a place at the heart of our moral reasoning and action.

And then there are the traffickers themselves – Jeffrey Epstein, for example! He didn’t survive either! But for reasons altogether different. And that would be another story.


In this critical moment, the President is deciding the number of refugees that can be admitted into the United States.
Let the President and Congress know of your strong support for refugees and resettlement.  As September 30, 2019, (the end of the fiscal year) approaches, the Trump Administration is required to announce the Presidential Determination (PD) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, which determines the number of refugees allowed to be admitted to the United States. The FY2019 PD was set at 30,000 refugees, the all-time-lowest number in the history of resettlement. Meanwhile, there are nearly 26 million refugees worldwide with 1.4 million needing resettlement.

Despite the continued global need, some in the Trump Administration are reportedly calling to “zero out” the program for FY 2020. USCCB said that zeroing out the refugee program “would be contrary to America values.” The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom registered their “alarm.” The Senate and House have both introduced the Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement Act, GRACE Act, S. 1088, H.R. 2146, which would set 95,000 as the minimum PD.

As Catholics, we affirm the inherent dignity of every person and the ability of refugees to seek security and safety for themselves and family members. We continue to be deeply concerned that low admission numbers mean that refugees fleeing persecution are left in harms’ way and that refugee families are left separated across the continents. Learn more about refugees and refugee resettlement, check the USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants resource page.

TAKE ACTION

Urge President Trump:
To admit 30,000 refugees in FY 19 and 95,000 in FY 20.

Urge your U.S. Representative and Senators:
(1) To urge the Administration to admit 30,000 refugees in FY 19 and 95,000 in FY 20;
(2) To provide robust oversight and appropriations to achieve both goals, and
(3) To support the GRACE Act that would establish a minimum annual refugee admission goal of 95,000.

Click here to send the following message to the President and your U.S. Representative and Senators:

President Trump,

Please do not “zero out” the refugee resettlement program. Return to robust refugee resettlement which is a life-saving program that exhibits U.S. leadership.

The Catholic community is committed to supporting people seeking refuge in our country, and we stand with you in providing protection and safety for refugees. Thank you for your work!

Members of Congress,

We urge you to utilize oversight and support the Administration in all efforts to ensure refugees can arrive to the United States during the rest of 2019 and in 2020. And co-sponsor and support the Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement Act, GRACE Act, S. 1088/H.R. 2146, which would establish a minimum annual admission goal of 95,000 refugees.

During this crucial time of decision, the Catholic community stands with you in supporting protections for refugees, and we thank you for your work.

If you want more information on the latest rule change on immigration mentioned in the blog, click here.

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates