from the ELCA advocacy office in Washington, D.C. – the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, Senior Director
Partial expanded content from Advocacy Connections: April 2023
UN WATER CONFERENCE | COMMENTS ADD UP AGAINST ASYLUM RULE | GLOBAL FRAGILITY ACT | FAIR HOUSING | FAITH ORGANIZATIONS OPPOSE FAMILY DETENTION
UN WATER CONFERENCE: “It has been 46 years since the last time the United Nations gathered on the issue of water,” said Christine Moffett, ELCA Environment Policy Contractor, who took part in the event along with ELCA World Hunger staff by coordination of the Lutheran Office for World Community. Held in New York from March 22-24, ELCA staff engaged with the United Nation Member States on their contributions to increasing access to the human right to water. “It was so important for ELCA and LWF advocates to be present at this long overdue conversation because while we may or may not share nationalities, political principles or religious convictions, we do share the water that we drink – water that we more notably ought to share more equitably,” said Moffett.
In other news, the Climate Change 2023: Synthesis Report was released on March 20 by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is the final issue of an eight-year scientific assessment on the state of climate change. While the future painted from this report is bleak, the IPCC did lay out some clear, readily available paths forward for greenhouse gas reduction, carbon removal and increased resilience. This report and its recommendations can be used as a guide for policymakers to make changes in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Our new ELCA social message “Earth’s Climate Crisis” speaks to the need for us all to take action in this moment of Kairos.
COMMENTS ADD UP AGAINST ASYLUM RULE: The comment period for the proposed rule “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” closed on March 27 with over 30,000 public comments from across the country! Some ELCA AMMPARO congregations even organized writing groups, helping ensure that a diversity of Lutheran voices were counted.
Through the proposed rule, the administration seeks to impose a “presumption of asylum ineligibility” for asylum seekers unless they received parole prior to arrival, presented themselves at a port of entry at a pre-scheduled time and place, or sought protection and were denied protection in a country en route to the United States. ELCA advocacy staff shared educational resources, like this video featuring the CEO of Lutheran Social Services of the National Capitol Area, to equip advocates to submit comments opposing the proposed rule. The ELCA’s public comment expresses the historic position of the church and draws from direct experience accompanying migrant children and families, particularly in the Americas that is made possible through ecumenical and NGO partners. The administration has several weeks to respond to all unique comments, but advocates still hope the rule will be withdrawn before May 11.
GLOBAL FRAGILITY ACT: The Biden-Harris administration has released implementation plans required in the Global Fragility Act (GFA), a bill supported by the ELCA that was signed into law in 2019. According to the World Bank, more than 80 percent of humanitarian needs are driven by conflicts, posing great challenges. This landmark legislation improves U.S. government capacity to prevent and/or mitigate conflicts around the world. The 10-year plans focus on four priority countries (Haiti, Libya, Mozambique, and Papua New Guinea) and a grouping of Coastal West African countries (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Guinea, and Ghana). The Department of State will lead implementation of these plans, but other federal agencies like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of Defense and Department of Treasury have different roles as well.
While the GFA authorizes $200 million annually to support conflict prevention programs and activities in priority countries, Congress still needs to appropriate these funds in every budget cycle. Witness in Society advocacy staff will continue to advocate for appropriations of these funds as part of foreign assistance budget work.
FAIR HOUSING: Last month, the ELCA Witness in Society office issued an Action Alert in support of the proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. As of March 28, Lutherans had submitted over 20 percent of all public comments on the administrative proposal! As mentioned in previous updates, if enacted the proposed rule would help the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) overcome patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities free from discrimination.
FAITH ORGANIZATIONS OPPOSE FAMILY DETENTION: Credible news surfaced this month that family detention might be reinstated. “Families do not need to be detained” reads a letter the ELCA joined with 130+ faith orgs opposing the return. Over 100+ House members, nearly a quarter of the U.S. Senate, the American Academy of Pediatrics among others, called on the administration to abandon any plans to detain families. Reuters on April 18 reported that the Biden administration is not planning “at this time” to restart family immigration detention, signaling the contentious practice to more quickly deport families is on hold.
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