The 15th national Ecumenical Advocacy Days gathering will be held April 21-24 in Washington, D.C. The conference is a national gathering in Washington D.C. for people of faith who want to be a force for change for the world. Our office is one of the co-sponsors of the event.
This year’s gathering will focus on the connections between racism, materialism and militarism and the impact they have around the world, in our communities and in our own lives. The weekend will include prayer, worship, advocacy training and networking. The conference will conclude with a lobby day to allow participants to meet with their members of Congress on Capitol Hill.
Criminal justice: President Trump signed three executive orders on Feb. 9 on crime reduction and public safety. One order directs Attorney General Jeff Sessions to establish a task force “to reduce illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and violent crime.” Another order focused on the prevention of violence against law enforcement officers. The final order aimed to combat transnational criminal organizations. Read more.
Dakota Access Pipeline: On Feb. 7, the Army Corp of Engineers approved drilling under Lake Oahe to complete construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Drilling under the lake began Feb. 8, with construction of the pipeline expected to be completed in March or early April. A federal judge is expected to rule on a lawsuit brought by the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes by this week.
Immigration: The Department of Homeland Security released two memos on Feb. 20 detailing how President Trump’s executive orders on immigration enforcement and border security will be implemented. DHS has requested concept proposals for “prototype wall structures near the U.S. border with Mexico” with contracts expected to be awarded in April. A $12-15 billion supplemental spending bill for additional wall segments is expected later in March. Read more immigration news in our new monthly immigration update.
New order on refugees and travel: Earlier today, President Trump signed a new executive order and memorandum temporarily suspending refugee resettlement and travel from six countries to the U.S. The new order revokes an earlier order signed on January 27, portions of which were suspended by a federal judge on Feb. 3. Read moreThe Hill | Fact sheet | Q&A
Palestine and Israel: On Feb. 15, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu visited the White House. In a shift from longstanding U.S. policy, President Trump said he was open to either a one-state or two-state solution. He also softened the stance on illegal Israeli settlements, asking Israel to “hold back … for a little bit.” Call from MCC U.S. and 14 other organizations for peace, justice and equality | Read more analysis
Pentagon spending: President Trump is proposing a $54 billion increase in military spending for the next fiscal year. To offset this huge increase, he is proposing deep cuts to foreign assistance, which already makes up less than 1 percent of the federal budget, and to environmental, anti-poverty, and other programs in the U.S.
March 10: Native Nations March on Washington
April 21-24: Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference
Charissa Zehr participated in an MCC delegation to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK/North Korea) along with three other MCC colleagues. MCC is one of just a few organizations that does humanitarian work in the country while also advocating for the U.S. to move towards dialogue and engagement with DPRK.
Tammy and Rachelle met with students from the American Studies Program on February 27. On March 1, Rachelle and Cherelle met with students from Sarasota Christian School who were visiting D.C. on their senior class trip.