from the ELCA Advocacy office in Washington, D.C. – the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, director
TRAVEL BAN EXTENDED: On Jan. 31, 2020, the Trump administration announced an expansion of the January 2017 travel ban to include more countries in Africa and Asia. Under the new policy, citizens from Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan will be barred from applying for visas to immigrate to the United States. The National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act would address this executive action and assist those of us escaping perilous or life-threatening situations. Support for the NOBAN Act can be facilitated in a current Action Alert.
In a statement on the expanded travel ban, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton writes, “As Lutherans, these actions should concern us. Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God has set us free from ourselves to serve our neighbor. This expanded policy separates families from loved ones already here. Further, it prevents people — especially those escaping perilous or life-threatening situations in several of these nations — from coming to safety in the U.S. It does not enhance our safety or reflect our vocation as Christians.”
GIRLS’ EDUCATION: On Jan. 28, the House of Representatives passed the Keeping Girls in School Act, a bill that seeks to strengthen U.S. international programs by reducing education barriers faced by millions of girls around the world. The bill calls on continued U.S. government and private investments to ensure quality and equitable education, promotes girls’ empowerment and streamlines existing programs.
Hundreds of ELCA Advocacy network members used an Action Alert in support of this legislation to send over 1,000 messages to members of Congress. An identical bill in the Senate awaits committee action before it can be sent to the Senate floor for a vote.
DISASTER AID FOR PUERTO RICO: The House of Representatives passed legislation to provide an emergency aid package for Puerto Rico in the wake of ongoing earthquakes and aftershock damage to the island. Support for this emergency aid in the Senate is the subject of an Action Alert, which emphasizes the lowest-income families in the greatest distress and the pressing need for authorizing proactive disaster policies for the greater United States.
The new package comes as the Trump administration recently released half of the blocked allocated assistance to help Puerto Ricans recovering from severe storms such as Hurricane Maria who now face additional devastation across the region. Two years after the 2017 hurricanes, more than 30,000 households are still waiting for assistance to have their homes repaired and/or rebuilt. Recent earthquakes have only accentuated the devastation many have experienced. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding is desperately needed to assist survivors with building materials, furniture and labor so that they can rebuild their lives and homes.
FAIR HOUSING RULE: In January the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a new rule that would weaken oversight and national data on fair-housing initiatives in low-income communities of color. Under the new proposal, the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule would be rendered almost completely ineffectual. Before March 16, use the Action Alert to make a public comment discouraging implementation of the change.
AFFH was first designed to help localities promote diversity and inclusivity under the 1968 Fair Housing Act and take proactive steps to reverse the effects of housing segregation. ELCA World Hunger recently shared a blog outlining the effects of altering the AFFH rule and explaining how discrimination in housing is an intersectional moral issue that affects multiple aspects of our lives.
ELCA PARTNER WITH 2020 CENSUS: The ELCA is an official partner of the 2020 Census as we work toward a just world where all are fed and further our commitment to greater justice in public policy and the electoral process. More than $675 billion in federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities is based on census data. An accurate count determines electoral maps and ensures that resources more justly go where they are needed most, including to vital programs that combat poverty and hunger and support people in need.
Posters are available from ELCA.org/resources/advocacy to help ELCA congregations encourage participation, particularly among hard-to-count populations such as people residing in rural areas, young children, LGBTQIA people, people experiencing homelessness, indigenous people, people who do not speak English, and racial and ethnic minorities. National Census Day is April 1, 2020, at which time all homes should have been invited to complete the census. For your neighbor and yourself — encourage your community to be counted!