Dreamers, border walls and the budget
To keep the government running past Thursday, Congress will need to find agreement on several issues including how to protect nearly 700,000 immigrants known as “Dreamers” from deportation. To end a government shutdown last month, Senate leaders promised to allow a vote on Dreamer legislation by February 8. A White House proposalincludes $25 billion for border walls, dramatic restrictions on family migration and the removal of protections for children and families seeking asylum. A bill introduced in the House by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is even more concerning. One reasonable compromise could be the bipartisan USA Actintroduced by Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.) which contains more reasonable border security provisions.
Mark Adams of Frontera de Cristo talks through the border fence with Rigo (last name is withheld for security), who was deported to Mexico after living in the U.S. for over two decades. (MCC photo/Saulo Padilla)
Criminal justice: A memo from the Bureau of Prisons was released with a stated goal to increase the number of people held in private prisons. The memo, which follows Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ guidance, would reverse a previous decision to eliminate the use of private prisons.
Nigeria: In late December, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria presented a Letter of Offer and Acceptance for a $593 million arms sale to the Nigerian Air Force. When the deal was first announced, several U.S. senators raised concerns due to the Nigerian military’s history of human rights abuses and war crimes. Nigeria must pay for the deal in February, despite budgetary challenges and a humanitarian crisis in the northeast.
Palestinian refugees: On January 16, the U.S. announced it was withholding $65 million of its commitment to the UN agency that provides services such as education and health care to Palestinian refugees. A cut of this magnitude would be devastating to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), as the U.S. is the agency’s single largest donor. The right to live | Letter from humanitarian agencies
Winter Peace Retreat(Elverson, Pa.): Tammy Alexander will speak about immigration issues at this retreat sponsored by the Peace and Justice Committee of Eastern District Conference and Franconia Mennonite Conference.
- We are delighted to welcome Erin Beidler and April Kabagambe as interns in our office during the spring semester. Erin is a student at Eastern Mennonite University, originally from Randolph Center, Vermont. April recently completed a master’s degree in international development; her home congregation is First Mennonite in Newton, Kansas.
- On January 15, Cherelle Dessus participated in MCC East Coast’s Mass Incarceration Service Day. The day was planned in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. More than 300 people joined to assemble 567 prison care kits.
- Cherelle visited Infinity/Manhattan Garifuna Mennonite Church and King of Glory Church in New York City to lead groups in a discussion on mass incarceration with the Do Not Pass Go learning tool.
- Charissa Zehr participated in an MCC Central States learning tour to Vietnam and Laos, focused on the “legacies of war.” The group explored the ongoing impacts of Agent Orange in Vietnam and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Laos.