from the ELCA Advocacy office in Washington, D.C. – the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, director
Partial content* expanded from Advocacy Connections: May 2020
TOP INTERFAITH PRIORITIES FOR NEXT COVID-19 RESPONSE BILL: On May 1, the ELCA Advocacy office joined 34 other denominations and religious organizations in a letter to members of Congress. “As organizations representing a broad array of religious beliefs and faith traditions,” it reads, “we write to urge you to act with urgency to pass another COVID-19 response bill that first prioritizes vulnerable individuals and communities.” The letter goes on to share specific concerns, such as a request to collect and release federal demographic data so public health officials can begin to understand and address racial disparities in rate of infection and morbidity due to the coronavirus which are disproportionately higher in communities of color. Other concerns raised include domestic human needs, criminal justice, Native American issues, immigration, health care and more. “Interfaith Sign on Letter – COVID-19 Priorities (May 2020)” can be accessed at domestichumanneeds.com.
Are there priorities you would like to see reflected in the next response bill? An Action Alert at elca.org/advocacy/actioncenter can direct your message to your member of Congress. Additional information to help you reflect on considerations before our nation as this bill takes shape can be found here.
“The witness of this church in society flows from its identity as a community that lives from and for the Gospel. Faith is active in love; love calls for justice in the relationships and structures of society. It is in grateful response to God’s grace in Jesus Christ that this church carries out its responsibility for the well-being of society and the environment” (from Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective, pages 1-2).
DACA CONCERNS: Even as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on the status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the ELCA has joined 248 others requesting that, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) restore DACA recipients’ access to benefits under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“Access to COVID-19 testing and treatment for DACA recipients and their U.S. citizen children is absolutely critical during this pandemic, particularly for the 27,000 DACA recipients employed as healthcare practitioners and supporting occupations on the front lines of responding to COVID-19,” reads the letter, addressed to Alex Azar, secretary of HHS. Find the letter requesting ACA access restoration for DACA recipients here.
NORTHERN TRIANGLE FUNDS RELEASED: Secretary Mike Pompeo announced this week that the U.S. government will release $258 million for the Northern Triangle because the countries have made progress on curbing illegal migration. The United States suspended funding assistance to the Northern Triangle last year.
It’s unclear how the funds will be used, but initial indications are that the money will go toward migration deterrence, security programs and private-sector economic development. ELCA Advocacy is working to assure direction of the funds to support humanitarian support for communities in need. In Central America, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras form the region referred to as the Northern Triangle.
DEBT RELIEF TO HELP COUNTRIES FACE PANDEMIC: The G20, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have agreed to suspend debt repayment for some of the world’s lowest-income countries through the end of this year so that these countries can more easily respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, a move supported by ELCA Advocacy and its faith-based partners.
ELCA Advocacy and other faith-based partners have been pushing for this measure, recognizing the challenges many low- and middle-income countries face during the global pandemic. (The suspension does not include debt owed to private banks or investors.) A letter on this subject, sent by the ELCA and many other denominations in the Jubilee USA Network to address the root causes of poverty and inequality, can be found here at “COVID-19 Jubilee White House, IMF, G20 Letter.”
VIRTUAL ECUMENICAL ADVOCACY DAYS: In place of an in-person event, the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) conference sponsored by the ELCA held its seminar via web conference on April 29, drawing connections among climate change, economic injustice and the current public health crisis. View the seminar here.
Among the featured speakers were the Rev. Mark MacDonald, archbishop of the Anglican Church of Canada, and Shantha Ready Alonso of Creation Justice Ministries. As part of the webinar, many EAD attendees joined in an action alert to Congress requesting better equity, environmental provisions and global relief in upcoming COVID-19 legislation. Held under the theme “Imagine! God’s Earth and People Restored!” the seminar focused on the intersection of climate change, economic injustice and the devastating impacts of inequality on public health.