from the ELCA Advocacy office in Washington, D.C. – the Rev. Amy E. Reumann, director
DISASTER AID BILL: Lawmakers are close to finalizing a spending deal on disaster aid before the Memorial Day recess (see Action Center to take action at this important time!). On May 1, over 80 Lutheran bishops and faith leaders from across the country voiced on Capitol Hill concern about disaster aid and other concerns related to the impacts of natural disasters, and they shared the need to mitigate the growing effects of climate change. Last month, Congress failed to send a disaster aid deal to the President’s desk, stalling much-needed support for survivors and communities in desperate need of recovery funding. From wildfires and tornadoes, to hurricanes and drought, far too many low and middle-income families are still displaced from the growing number of natural disasters: living with other family members, paying expensive rents, or put at increased risk of homelessness. Churches and other houses of worship are often the first to offer critical assistance for communities in the wake of disasters and are essential partners in helping foster better stewardship and resiliency in our communities. Interested advocates can contact their lawmakers through the Action Center in support of inclusive disaster programs.
CENTRAL AMERICAN MINORS PROGRAM: On Friday April 12, 2019, the ELCA welcomed the settlement agreement on Central American Minors Program (CAM) by urging the current administration to protect vulnerable populations, especially those 2,700 Central American children that will have a chance to seek protection in the U.S. and be reunified with their family member. In the press statement issued by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition in which the ELCA takes part, the ELCA emphasized on the importance of amplifying the CAM settlement in an effort to hold the administration accountable to actually processing these children fairly and equitably.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN THE FEDERAL BUDGET: As Congress discusses their priorities for the next federal budget, our ELCA ministries are aware that the lack of access to affordable housing limits the opportunities for many of us in our communities and is integral to the success of vital aspects of our lives. These include hunger, affordable healthcare, community safety, gainful education and employment. Houses of worship and other community stakeholders can take part in “Our Homes, Our Voices National Housing Week of Action” by joining or hosting local events such as movie screenings and neighborhood discussions. Taking place May 30-June 5, the annual week of action brings attention to the needs of addressing the affordable housing crisis, the scandal of homelessness in our communities, and the need for new investments that help these issues.
FOREIGN ASSISTANCE TO NORTHERN TRIANGLE: On March 30, President Trump directed the State Department to end foreign assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras as the administration indicated that these countries have failed to curb immigration to the U.S. Over 40 U.S.-based faith, human rights, foreign policy, humanitarian, immigrant rights and border-based civil society organizations, including the ELCA, issued a statement to express deep concern over the Trump Administration’s latest actions on Central America including the wholesale cutoffs of assistance to these three nations sometimes referred to as the Northern Triangle. ELCA Advocacy continues to gather information and working closely with organizations such as Bread for the World and Latin America Working group to monitor the situation and the impact it will have on the root causes of migration.
GLOBAL CONFLICT PREVENTION: Since our last newsletter, the Global Fragility Act (GFA) has moved further in Congress. According to the World Bank, 80% of humanitarian needs are driven by conflicts, posing great challenges to economic development and challenging efforts to end hunger. GFA must pass before the end of the year. The Global Fragility Act of 2019 would improve U.S. capacity to identify and address. A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress have recently introduced the Global Fragility Act of 2019, which would improve the capacity of the U.S. to identify and address causes of conflicts around the world. Among other things, the bill requires the Administration to develop a 10-year strategy for preventing violent conflicts in fragile countries. New reports show that global violence has continued to increase over the last decade, causing tremendous devastation and humanitarian crises. ELCA Advocacy sent an action alert in support of the issue earlier this week. You can call on your lawmakers to take action at the ELCA Action Center.