from the ELCA advocacy office in Washington, D.C.
– the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, Senior Director, ELCA Witness in Society
Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: April 2022
CRITICAL HOUSING INCREASES IN BUDGET: Since original overdue deadline of the budget passed last October, hundreds of Lutherans contacted their members to end the inaction and include increases in critical needs such as housing aid and homeless assistance. In the final version, advocates succeeded in obtaining increases in several low-income spending accounts, including a boost of more than $4 billion in housing assistance.
This comes at a critical time as inflation costs and the shortage of available housing are meeting historic highs. In the coming days and weeks, as congressional committees prepare a bill for the current fiscal cycle, ELCA advocacy will be amplifying opportunities to take action on core priorities and principles in the federal budget.
CLIMATE AWARENESS IN BUDGET AND BEYOND: President Biden released his Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget that includes funding to address climate change domestically and internationally with substantial increase in funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.
The ELCA, working with Non-Government Organizations and other faith-based organizations, began advocacy campaigns with Congressional appropriations committee members to emphasize the importance of finalizing FY23 budget by the end of September with the monies proposed in the president’s budget. The urgency of taking climate action, especially as it relates to women’s human rights, was highlighted by over 80 Lutheran delegates who took part in the sixty-sixth Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the U.N. This CSW brought together the gender and climate justice work that Lutherans have led over many years, including youth-led climate justice action around the world, by amplifying the leadership and voices of young people. ELCA and Lutheran World Federation delegates showcased the vital role that faith actors play in promoting women’s empowerment and combating violence and discrimination to achieve greater gender equality at local, national and international levels.
While the United States has already imposed many sanctions since 2016, the Secretary of State did announce that the United States will contribute an additional $1 million to the Genocide Convention for Myanmar, which was established in 2018 by the U.N. Human Rights Council. The State Department will also share their findings to support the ongoing genocide case against Myanmar military at the International Court of Justice which was brought forward by the government of Gambia.
END IN SIGHT FOR TITLE 42: On April 1, President Biden announced that Title 42, a policy that has been used to categorically deny asylum seekers the opportunity to ask for protection, will be ending on May 23. The Department of Homeland Security has made many preparations for the change, including updating how asylum will be processed.
Hours after the White House’s Title 42 announcement, multiple lawmakers signaled they would support delaying critical COVID-19 supplementing funding for domestic and international needs over Title 42. A vote on this would be devastating for people who have waited for their chance to ask for refuge on the other side of the border. ELCA advocacy staff have urged lawmakers to reconsider any potential vote to delay restoring access to asylum. The court-reinstated Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), or “Remain in Mexico,” is headed to the Supreme Court (oral argument to be held in April) with far-reaching consequences for immigrant detention and pushbacks. Through AMMPARO, the ELCA is coordinating on what the impact of Title 42 will be as migrant ministries activate for the potential arrival of newcomers.
FAIR HOUSING MONTH: April is Fair Housing Month, an opportunity to highlight the critical need of housing for people and to recommit support for inclusion and justice in housing – matters many Lutherans and Lutheran ministries uphold.
Over the past few years, Lutherans have submitted public comments to proposed rules and to HUD officials. – advocating for them to enforce long neglected elements of the Fair Housing Act and to address injustices in housing disparities. This comes as homeownership rate disparities and the wealth gap in housing equity has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic. HUD’s current series promoting Fair Housing month, including a webinar and other resources, can be found here.