On November 20, President Obama took executive action to allow some undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. The largest category of beneficiaries will be parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents who have been in the U.S. for five years or longer (and who meet other requirements). The action also expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and a separate waiver program.
It is a bittersweet victory for immigrant advocates as the program is expected to benefit less than half of the undocumented population. Left out will be parents of undocumented immigrants, those without children and many with minor criminal convictions.
Colombia: Peace talks between the Colombian government and leaders of FARC, Colombia’s largest guerrilla group, were suspended in mid-November by President Santos after the FARC was implicated in kidnapping an Colombian army general. In recent days, the general was released, and many in and outside of Colombia are hoping that talks will resume again quickly. The political will to continue peace talks has not seemed to waver, but a signed peace accord and cease-fire from all sides have not yet materialized.
Iran: In an encouraging sign, on November 24, negotiators from Iran, the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia announced that talks on Iran’s nuclear program were being extended. The reaction from Congress so far has been mixed, with some supporting continued negotiations and others pushing for new sanctions when Congress returns in January. Unfortunately the latter move would make it more difficult to reach an agreement.
Climate change: The United Nations is holding its annual climate change conference in Lima, Peru, December 1-12. There is renewed energy for working toward a new international agreement at the 2015 conference in Paris, France. President Obama recently committed $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund. Last month, the U.S. and China both made new commitments for reducing carbon emissions.
- December 27-30: Brethren in Christ YouthQuest event in Arlington, Va. Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach will be leading a seminar at this event for high school students, entitled “Things you wanted to know about Syria and Iraq but were afraid to ask.”
- January 23, 2015: Deadline for submitting essays for the annual MCC U.S. Washington Office high school essay contest.
- April 17-20, 2015: Plan now to attend the 2015 Ecumenical Advocacy Days national gathering in Washington D.C. The theme will be “Breaking the Chains: Mass Incarceration & Systems of Exploitation.” Register here.
- Forgotten faces of the war (Syria and Lebanon)
- A historical commitment to caring for the least of these (immigration)
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- Executive action resources
- Webinar on Palestine and Israel: If you were not able to join the webinar last Thursday, “Jesus weeps: An introduction to the Israel-Palestine conflict,” you can listen to it online.
We are happy to announce that Joshua Russell has joined our staff as the new Legislative Assistant and Communications Coordinator. Josh recently spent a year in South Africa with MCC’s Serving and Learning Together (SALT) program, and is a graduate of Furman University in Greenville, S.C. Welcome, Josh!
On November 18, our staff enjoyed meeting with students from Christopher Dock High School (Lansdale, Pa.) on their visit to D.C., followed on November 21 by a visit to our office by economics students from Eastern Mennonite High School (Harrisonburg, Va.). We welcome the opportunity to meet with student groups and others, so please let us know if you’d like us to speak with your congregation or group! Click here for more information.
On November 24, the Washington Office hosted a conference at George Washington University to draw more attention to housing issues in Haiti that were exacerbated by the earthquake five years ago. The conference, highlighting the perspective of MCC Haiti partners working in the sectors of housing and human rights, drew together a wide variety of policymakers, academics, Haitian government officials, and multilateral agencies for dialogue and constructive recommendations. It wouldn’t have been a success without the support of MCC Haiti’s policy analysts and advocacy coordinators (based in Port au Prince) and co-sponsors Church World Service and American Jewish World Service.
On November 25, Kaitlyn Stump completed her internship in our office. Kaitlyn returns to Malone University to complete her studies. We thank Kaitlyn for her help with various projects this fall and wish her all the best!