June 17, 2013
*Action alert: Call the Senate*
The Senate continues debating immigration reform this week after taking a break from voting on amendments last Thursday. Caught up in an argument over procedure, they hope to take up additional amendments starting Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may hold the Senate in session through the weekend—Friday, Saturday, and Sunday—in order to finish the bill by the 4th of July recess.
Meanwhile, tired of waiting for the House Group of Eight to submit a comprehensive bill, the House Judiciary Committee has begun to consider individual bills on separate immigration issues. The first bill, sponsored by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R – SC), is called the Strengthen and Forify Enforcement Act, or SAFE Act for short. This bill would authorize states to participate in enforcement efforts, a controversial move reminiscent of Arizona’s S.B. 1070, which created a stir in 2010 over racial profiling practices.
April 17, 2013
The U.S. Senate is expected to release text of an immigration reform bill later this week. Several details about the Senate plan have been reported in major news outlets — the Washington Post has a good summary. The bill would allow millions of undocumented immigrants to get on a path to U.S. citizenship but would also eliminate some family visa categories and increase border security.
We will post more information here as it becomes available.
March 8, 2013
President Barack Obama speaks about the importance of expanding the protections of the Violence Against Women Act. He is joined on stage by politicians, women’s rights activists, and Native American rights activists. This signing of the Violence Against Women Act into law took place on March 7, 2013. (Photo Jesse Epp-Fransen/MCC)
On March 7, 2013 President Barack Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law. This is legislation, originally crafted nearly twenty years ago to address issues of domestic violence and rape.
VAWA has traditionally been passed with bipartisan support but upon expiration during the last congress it failed to be renewed. The act is essential in providing funding for the domestic abuse hotline that has provided emergency assistance for 2 million women since its creation. The act also funds a network of shelters so that survivors of domestic abuse are not forced to choose between safety and shelter. This aspect is being expanded in the current legislation to include housing assistance to help persons leaving violent homes to be able to transition from shelters to more stable housing.
Two significant expansions in this iteration of the legislation include a non-discrimination clause based on sexual orientation. This clause asserts that services will be available to those in need regardless of the orientation of the survivor, thus protecting women and men in same sex relationships from being barred from utilizing services because of their orientation.
The second significant change is that tribal courts have been given authority to prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence and sexual assault that occur on tribal lands in the case where the perpetrator is not Native American. This closes a gaping loophole in which non-native persons were accountable to neither the tribal court nor the local municipal or state police because of issues of jurisdiction and sovereignty. Native American’s have suffered a much higher rate of sexual assault than the general public and 70% of the perpetrators are non-Native. Cases that have in the passed involved a question of jurisdiction have had a significantly lower likelihood of prosecution, when compared to crimes committed against other people of color or white victims.
This change in legislation is an incredibly important step in addressing domestic violence, but as with so many issues legislation can play only so much of a role. Along with changes in policy there must be changes in perception and changes of the heart. Visit the Fear not: Seek peace in our homes to find MCC resources on domestic violence including information on abuse prevention and response as well as “Created Equal: Women and Men in the image of God,” a biblical reflection on creation and gender.
August 24, 2012
The Summer Immigration Update is now available! This immigration policy update gives a summary of developments in Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Obama administration. Topics include:
- Relief for DREAMers
- Arizona SB1070 Supreme Court decision
- State legislative updates
- Secure Communities and Detention Visitation toolkits
The update is available in English and Spanish.
August 22, 2012
courtesy of World Atlas
The U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted 3-2 to approve regulations requiring U.S. companies to disclose whether their products were made using conflict minerals sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The law was part of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2010.
Unfortunately, the final ruling gives companies two years to implement the adopted regulations, delaying once again, the intent of the law, which is to abate violence caused by armed groups who support their vicious activities by selling minerals from eastern Congo mines.
July 20, 2012
Last evening the House of Representatives voted to freeze Pentagon spending at last year’s level, approving an amendment to the defense appropriations bill co-sponsored by Rep. Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Rep. Frank (D-Mass.). The vote is significant in that it showed a willingness by Members of Congress to consider cuts to the military, something that has been hotly debated in the deficit reduction discussions. The Mulvaney-Frank amendment cut $1.1 billion from the House proposal.
Unfortunately, several other amendments which would have made even more significant cuts, were voted down. Even with the Mulvaney-Frank trim, the Pentagon budget is still $6 billion over the caps allowed in last year’s Budget Control Act. A vote to bring the funding levels in line with the caps failed 243-171. Another amendment, to cut $19.2 billion, failed 326-87.
To view how your representative voted on these amendments, click here:
Read more about MCC’s work on military spending.
July 17, 2012
A U.S. Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV). U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Ashleigh S. Teitel (Released)
The House is scheduled to take up the Fiscal Year 2013 defense appropriations bill this week. Contact your House member today to urge him/her to support amendments that will reduce Pentagon spending.
The defense bill provides $519.2 billion for the Pentagon’s “base budget,” an increase of $1.1 billion over last year, as well as $88.5 billion in war funding, primarily for Afghanistan. It is unconscionable that Congress is proposing an increase to the Pentagon’s base budget at a time when poverty programs are facing significant cuts.
Many amendments will be offered to the bill, including several to reduce the overall level of funding. Read more and urge your representative to support these amendments.