Border towns safer than Ohio towns

May 10, 2011

Speaker Boehner should focus on controlling the level of violence in his own state before tarnishing the image of border communities that remain among the safest places to live in America. As his office asserts that Congress cannot consider reforming our broken immigration system until border violence is under control, the fact remains that the six largest cities in Ohio all have higher rates of violence and crime than every major city along the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact, the Speaker’s own district in Dayton, Ohio saw more homicides in 2009 and 2010 than Texas’ four largest border cities combined, despite the fact that Dayton’s population of 141,500 is only about one-tenth of the size by comparison. According to the most recent City Crime Rankings Survey by CQ Press, Ohio’s cities have higher rates of violence and crime in every category, including murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft than border communities.

– Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX-16), May 9, 2011

Immigration Reform Summary

May 7, 2010

Last week, Senators Reid, Durbin, Schumer, Leahy, Feinstein, and Menendez introduced the Real Enforcement with Practical Answers for Immigration Reform (REPAIR) proposal.  While the framework definitely has enforcement overtones and is vague about just what “securing the border” means, there are also good provisions to help families stay together and reunite.  The American Immigration Lawyers Association has put together a 6-page summary of the proposal.

Also, the National Immigration Forum has released this 4-page document detailing all that’s been done to secure the border to-date.

In the words of Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at a Senate hearing last week:

Every marker, every milepost that has been laid down by the Congress in terms of number of agents, deployment of technology, construction of fencing and the like has either already been completed or is within a hair’s breadth of being completed. And one of the questions I think we need to talk about is whether securing the border is ever going to be reached before the Congress – in the sense of the Congress, or whether that goalpost is just going to keep moving. And I also believe that we need to communicate better with the American people.”

Congress Passes Final Health Reform Bill

March 26, 2010

“Change is never easy, but it’s always possible”

Abundant Life: Economic Justice for AllThe final votes in the long, arduous health care debate came on Thursday. The Senate passed the bill of “fixes” to their health care reform package in the afternoon. Then, because two small changes were made to the legislation, it went back to the House where it passed 220-207 Thursday night.

As President Obama stated in a speech in Iowa, this marks the culmination of “a year of debate, a century of trying” to improve access to health care in a nation where 1 in 6 do not have health insurance.

[W]hat this struggle has taught us — about ourselves and about this country — is so much bigger than any one issue, because it’s reminded us … that change is never easy, but it’s always possible. It comes not from the halls of power, but from the hearts of our people. Amid setbacks, it requires perseverance. Amid calls for delay, it requires the fierce urgency of now. In the face of unrelenting cynicism, it requires unyielding hope.

Read the rest of this entry »

Addressing present-day racism

March 24, 2010

Congressman John Lewis

On Saturday, while walking from office buildings to the Capitol to cast votes on health care,
members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Senator Barney Frank individually encountered Tea Party protestors expressing more than just their opposition to the bill.  Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO), for example, was spat on while passing by.  The crowd tossed racial epithets at Reps. John Lewis (D-GA) and Andre Carson (D-IN) and hurled anti-gay rants at Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA).

Incidents like this remind us of our past because we see again racism and discrimination lived out publically in an encounter between individuals that is characterized by aggression, anger and politically linked behavior.  For Congressman John Lewis, this is certainly the case.   Read the rest of this entry »

Senators release outline of immigration bill

March 19, 2010

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released a rough outline of a bipartisan immigration bill in a Washington Post op-ed yesterday. Predictably, it is enforcement heavy, encourages permanent immigration for high-skilled workers, temporary immigration for low-skilled workers, and says nothing about family reunification.

Our plan has four pillars: requiring biometric Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs; fulfilling and strengthening our commitments on border security and interior enforcement; creating a process for admitting temporary workers; and implementing a tough but fair path to legalization for those already here.  (Read more)

Compare with MCC U.S. Immigration Policy Principles.

Life Issues in Health Care Reform

March 15, 2010

[Catholic Health Association] has a major concern on life issues. We said there could not be any federal funding for abortions and there had to be strong funding for maternity care, especially for vulnerable women. The bill now being considered allows people buying insurance through an exchange to use federal dollars in the form of tax credits and their own dollars to buy a policy that covers their health care. If they choose a policy with abortion coverage, then they must write a separate personal check for the cost of that coverage.

There is a requirement that the insurance companies be audited annually to assure that the payment for abortion coverage fully covers the administrative and clinical costs, that the payment is held in a separate account from other premiums, and that there are no federal dollars used.

In addition, there is a wonderful provision in the bill that provides $250 million over 10 years to pay for counseling, education, job training and housing for vulnerable women who are pregnant or parenting. Another provision provides a substantial increase in the adoption tax credit and funding for adoption assistance programs.

– Sr. Carol Keehan writing in Catholic Health World on the health care reform legislation currently before the U.S. House of Representatives.  Click here for an action alert on the bill.

Quote: 3/3/2010

March 3, 2010

Women and girls are not victims, they are the driving force that brings about social transformation.

- Michael Sidibe, UNAIDS Executive Director discussing women and HIV/AIDS


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