Advocacy Update – November 2017

Today, we present our ELCA Advocacy Update for the month of November. Please read below for important information on ELCA Advocacy efforts in Washington, across the country and throughout the world. To read the full version of the update and for more information on advocacy efforts from our Lutheran State Advocacy offices, visit our blog!

ELCA Advocacy, Washington D.C.

Pray Fast Act November iFOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS: The November day of fasting and action is Tuesday, Nov. 21. This month, we focus on federal investments that make communities more resilient and better prepared for destructive natural disasters and the consequences of a changing climate. ELCA congregations and community organizations across the country work tirelessly to help when disaster strikes, most recently in Texas, California, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. To prepare our nation for the future, our federal government must invest in research, urban planning and building infrastructure designed for the climate challenges of the next 100 years.

DISATER RELIEF UPDATE: President Trump signed a disaster aid package on Oct. 26 to continue federal relief for hurricane and wildfire affected regions. While the $36.5 billion package included much needed funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) disaster relief and the National Flood Insurance Program, the support package as passed is only a temporary solution, and funding for longer-term recovery programs will be needed soon. ELCA Advocacy and Lutheran Disaster Response shared an action alert last month in support of the bill, with hundreds of Lutherans calling for action. ELCA Advocacy will continue to encourage action for those affected by natural disasters as Congress considers a longer-term spending bill next month.

DACA UPDATE: Last month, the White House released a series of immigration principles and policies outlining immigration recommendations for Congress to consider alongside legislation to protect young “Dreamers.” These principles include policies that take away trafficking protections for children, make it harder for people seeking protection to find refuge in our country, and reduce the ability of families to stay together.

Shortly after the release of the principles, ELCA Advocacy shared an action alert encouraging lawmakers to support protections for young Dreamers without additional provisions.

GLOBAL HUMAN TRAFFICKINGThe Department of State and the United Kingdom’s government have announced matching awards of $25 million to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery. Established by legislation in 2016, the fund is a grant-making, public-private foundation that will support international civil societies working to end human trafficking. The initiative seeks to raise a total of $1.5 billion from both governments and the private sector over several years.

REFUGEE SCREENING: Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), alongside ELCA Advocacy, is also continuing its outreach to Congress and the administration on screening procedures for refugees. This comes as the White House announced that only 45,000 refugees will be resettled in the U.S. next year – the lowest level in decades – and proposed other unnecessary screening policies. Five Wisconsin ELCA bishops will present more holistic refugee policy recommendations to Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., later this month.

Lutheran Office for World Community

Jenss UN ChairHUMAN RIGHTS UPDATES: The U.N. General Assembly allocates to its Third Committee agenda items related to human rights issues and social and humanitarian affairs affecting people all over the world. An important part of the work of the committee is focused on examining human rights questions, including reports of the Human Rights Council, established in 2006. During October, the committee heard and interacted with special rapporteurs, independent experts and chairs of the council’s working groups.

The committee discusses the advancement of women, the protection of children, indigenous people, the treatment of refugees, the promotion of fundamental freedoms through eliminating racism and racial discrimination, and the right to self-determination. The committee also addresses social development issues in such areas as youth, family, ageing, people with disabilities, crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.

The committee has heard from more than 60 experts during this year’s session of the General Assembly. Compelling presentations included extreme poverty and human rightsrights of indigenous people and prevention of torture.

In line with General Assembly resolution 66/246, formal meetings of the Third Committee are webcast live on UN Web TV in the six official languages of the United Nations. Past meetings of the session are also available from the committee’s video archives.

UN Chamber

SIMPLE, PRACTICAL MEASURES NEEDED: Experts told the Third Committee in October that member states and international organizations must take simple, practical measures to ensure inclusivity, as delegates debated the human rights of people with disabilities.

The chair of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Theresia Degener, said that budget appropriations were needed to provide such services as international sign language, national sign language interpretation, Braille, captioning, plain language and Easy Read as a minimum. Although the committee has a member with intellectual disabilities, it has not been able to provide that expert person with any information in plain language.

Catalina Devandas Aguilar, the special rapporteur on the rights of people with disabilities, said the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls with disabilities require urgent action. To identify and eliminate harmful practices, member states must provide families with access to legal mechanisms and, rather than simply facilitating care, consider the opinions of people with disabilities. States have an obligation to protect sexual and reproductive health and rights by ensuring comprehensive sexual education, providing inclusive health services and empowering people with disabilities.

The committee also explored freedom of opinion and expression, among other issues, with the special rapporteur on that topic warning that public trust in information was under attack by political demagogues and those particularly purveying “fake news.” He cautioned governments against making, sponsoring or encouraging statements they reasonably knew to be false.

Lutheran state advocacy efforts across the country

Find out all about the vast and incredibly important work and top priorities of Lutheran state advocacy networks across the country by visiting the ELCA Advocacy Blog.

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