ELCA Advocacy, Washington D.C.
REFLECTING ON ADVENT: Visit blogs.elca.org/advocacy each Friday of Advent to read reflections from our ELCA Advocacy staff on this Holy Season.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: The December day to #PrayFastAct is Thursday, Dec. 21! This month, we focus on our commitment to supporting Sustainable Development Goals by engaging in prayer, fasting and advocacy for a just world. During this Advent season, we are directed to God’s steadfast resolve for peace and the signs of God’s reconciling love and restoration at work in our troubled world. As we await the arrival of the Prince of Peace, Lutherans and Episcopalians around the country, alongside churches’ leadership, are praying, fasting and committing to advocate together in support of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals as part of our ecumenical “For Such a Time” campaign.
TAX BILL UPDATE: The Senate passed its version of HR 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, legislation that would cut taxes for corporations and wealthy individuals. This legislation now moves to a conference committee to merge the two versions and will be back in the House and Senate for another vote. The House version includes language, opposed by the ELCA, that would permit houses of worship to engage in electioneering. The Senate version does not include this language, known as “The Johnson Amendment.” ELCA Advocacy will work to prevent inclusion of the Johnson Amendment in a conference of the two versions.
WORLD AIDS DAY: ELCA Advocacy, together with ELCA HIV and AIDS ministries, shared an action alert Dec. 1 in support of public policies and programs that address the spread of HIV and AIDs worldwide. U.S. programs and strategies have been effective in reducing the spread of HIV nationally and across the world. As Congress considers a spending bill to keep the government open after Christmas, it is critical to voice support for programs under consideration for being cut, such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), prevention programs and housing for people with AIDS.
MIGRATION UPDATE: Advocates are urging Congress to pass the Dream Act, which provides a pathway to citizenship to young Americans without legal status (Dreamers), before the end of the year. The status of approximately 10,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients has already expired, and 1,000 lose their status every day that a bill is not passed. ELCA Advocacy has updated our action alert to reflect the important deadline and continue to advocate for a bill to pass.
In November, the administration announced that it would shut down the Central American Minors Program (CAM) for refugees, ending all operations by Jan. 31. It is unclear whether this arbitrary deadline will allow the review of all 3,000 pending CAM cases. The program allows children who had a legally present parent in the U.S. to apply for refugee status in their country. Children who arrive in the U.S. could avoid the dangers of traveling through Mexico to request asylum.
INTERNATIONAL GENDER JUSTICE AND HEALTH: The International Violence Against Women Act has finally been re-introduced in the Senate. This bill encompasses a few changes from the version introduced in the last Congress but keeps key pieces intact. Unlike the last time, the current version was re-introduced by a bipartisan group of senators, which increases likelihood of passage.
Another bill to improve maternal and child health outcomes in developing countries has been introduced in both chambers. The Reach Every Mother and Child Act’s goal is to ensure that the U.S. can continue its role of providing critical interventions in an efficient and strategic manner. Advocates can voice support for the bill and other international health goals at the ELCA Action Center.
ENVIRONMENT COP23: ELCA Advocacy attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn last month. Significant outcomes of the conference included: 1) approval and adoption of the Gender Action Plan (GAP); 2) approval and adoption of the Indigenous Peoples Platform; and 3) moving forward with the Talanoa dialogue for implementation of the Paris Agreement. ELCA Advocacy, as a member of the UN Gender team, participated in workshops to help shape the Gender Action Plan, and, along with LWF, hosted a table at the Gender Market Place Event on Gender Day (November 14th) at COP 23. Find out more at the ELCA Advocacy Blog.
Lutheran Office for World Community
THIRD COMMITTEE OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES ITS WORK FOR 72ND SESSION: In late October and early November, the Third Committee of the United Nations discussed eliminating racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and promoting self-determination. Experts monitoring human rights treaties were especially concerned over increased violence, racist rhetoric and Nazism, calling for targeted efforts to address root causes of discrimination.
Sabelo Gumedze, chair of the working group of experts on peoples of African descent, reported on pervasive structural racism, with people of African descent facing extreme violence, racial bias and hate. He called for an honest debate about history and its connection to modern racism.
Gabor Rona, chair-rapporteur of the working group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights, focused on the use of private security personnel, particularly in prisons and immigration-related detention facilities. Abuses include violence, medical negligence and sexual abuse. He recommended that member states stop outsourcing, and urged alternatives to detention for undocumented migrants.
On Nov. 21, the committee concluded its 72nd session, having debated and approved 63 draft resolutions, including children’s rights, assistance to refugees, people with disabilities, human rights defenders, migrants, safe drinking water, youth policies, glorification of Nazism, eliminating racism, strengthening elections, prison reform and human trafficking.
UPDATE ON GLOBAL COMPACT ON MIGRATION STOCKTAKING PHASE: The United Nations is now in the stocktaking phase of a process to create a Global Compact for Migration. This compact, mandated by the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, is to be the first inter-governmentally negotiated agreement designed to address all aspects of international migration. LOWC has been active in a subcommittee of the NGO Committee on Migration which has been focusing on the discussions during the recently completed consultation stage and will continue its activities in relation to the current stocktaking stage. These are steps on the way toward the compact being adopted by the U.N. The committee has provided input to the “Ten Acts for the Global Compact,” a document outlining the essentials for a meaningful compact. The Lutheran World Federation has endorsed it.
The stocktaking phase of the work plan to bring the compact to fruition will be followed by the negotiating and finalization phase in early to mid-2018. Adoption of the global compact should occur in December 2018 at a special conference to be convened in Morocco.
The special representative for the Global Compact on Migration, Louise Arbour, recently met with members of the Committee on Migration. She focused on her upcoming official report to the U.N. secretary general, which will set out criteria for safe, orderly, regular migration; look at how the United Nations can work on migration; offer recommendations and a review of the compact for the future.
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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