Today, we present our ELCA Advocacy Update for the month of February. 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.
STATE OF THE UNION & ADVOCACY PRIORITIES: On Tuesday, Jan. 30, President Trump addressed our nation and introduced this administration’s major priorities for 2018. The annual State of the Union speech provides an opportunity for Americans to learn about the policies our president hopes to focus attention on in the upcoming legislative year. In response to this important moment, ELCA Advocacy presented our public policy priorities for 2018.
The ELCA Advocacy policy action agenda focuses the work of the Washington, D.C., office on current issues central to sustaining a just world where all are fed. Issue selection is based on many factors, starting with prayerful consideration of God’s vision for a more just world. Issue agendas are based on concerns that the ELCA has identified and spoken about through social statements, churchwide assembly memorials or other authoritative documents. You can read more at the ELCA Advocacy Blog.
Lutheran leaders held over 130 visits with congressional offices in which they called on Congress to support comprehensive solutions that affirm Lutheran values and shared stories about ways their ministries and local communities are affected by policies in the farm bill. Lawmakers are debating early drafts of the bill now, and this month is a critical time for action! Advocates can reach out to their members of Congress at the ELCA Action Center.
FEB. 21, PRAY. FAST. ACT: The February day to #PrayFastAct is Wednesday, Feb. 21! This month, we are mindful of the injustices levied upon American Indians and Native Alaskans. There are approximately 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives whose ancestors have ceded millions of acres of land that has made the United States what it is today and who also were, and are, subjected to various forms of physical and social injustices. As Lutherans, we have an obligation to work, pray and give to respond to and end those injustices. Resources and a shared statement from ELCA Advocacy and The Episcopal Church will come later this month.
BUDGET UPDATE – GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: Earlier last month, the federal government shutdown for three days after Congress failed to meet a spending deadline. Shortly after the shutdown began, ELCA Advocacy shared a statement with lawmakers encouraging a way forward on important issues. Though Congress passed a temporary stopgap measure to keep the government open for several weeks, lawmakers will need to pass a new spending deal by Feb. 8. Faith advocates can reach out to their representatives on top budget priorities at the ELCA Action Center and through action alerts focused on the “For Such a Time as This” campaign.
THE MIGRANT JOURNEY THROUGH AMMPARO: Alaide Vilchis Ibarra, program director for migration policy; Mary Campbell, program director for AMMPARO; Stephen Deal, regional director for Central America; and David Wunsch, director for unit operations and programs in Global Mission, traveled to Guatemala and Mexico alongside members from companion churches and partners implementing AMMPARO programs. The delegation followed a common migrant route taken by Central American children and families in Guatemala and the southern border of Mexico.
The trip focused on learning more about the services and gaps for Central American children and families, and asylum seekers in Mexico, and making connections with existing organizations to ensure the protection of children and families. The delegation met with civil society, government officials and representatives of international organizations. We confirmed that the number of people seeking asylum in Mexico continues to go up.
Lutheran Office for World Community
SYMPOSIUM FOCUSES ON MIGRATION – DISPLACEMENT AND MARGINALIZATION, INCLUSION AND JUSTICE: The Fourth Annual Symposium on the Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organizations in International Affairs was held at the United Nations on Jan. 22, organized by the ACT Alliance, the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, the General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, and the World Council of Churches.
The symposium focused on migration: displacement and marginalization, inclusion and justice. Since its inception in 2015 the symposia have discussed human dignity and rights; prevention of atrocity crimes and violent extremism; and just, inclusive and sustainable peace.
The tone was set as U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed welcomed approximately 250 participants and said that 2018 offers an excellent opportunity to ensure that migration is undertaken in a safe and orderly manner as the United Nations negotiates global compacts for migrants and refugees. Mohammed urged faith-based organizations to be involved in this process however possible. She noted that she comes from the Fulani tribe, a group widely dispersed in the Sahel and West Africa, pointing out that “refugees and migrants are not the other; they are us.”
The Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, World Council of Churches general secretary, asked, “What does it mean to be a human being in the world today?” ACT Alliance General Secretary Rudelmar Bueño de Faria said faith-based organizations need to focus on the person and reminded participants that migration itself is not a problem – “What does need fixing is the continued violation of the human rights of migrants.”
CHILDREN’S RIGHTS IN RELATION TO PROPOSED COMPACTS: UNICEF hosted a half-day consultation on Jan. 23 to explore children’s rights in the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact for Migration. Dennis Frado shared perspectives provided by the experiences of several Lutheran World Federation’s (LWF) country programs including Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda, Myanmar, Central African Republic, Cameroon and Colombia. To protect and assist unaccompanied and separated children in refugee and internally displaced situations, LWF has partnered with UNICEF, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), other non-governmental organizations and host governments to set up child-protection and education programs. Using a community-based approach, LWF builds the capacities of foster parents, teachers, care-givers and community members to understand and protect child rights as well as strengthen mechanisms for prevention and response to rights violations.
LWF works with UNHCR and host governments in welcoming and receiving asylum seekers, including the provision of first-line services by managing transit and reception centers, including registration and identifying specific vulnerabilities and capacities among the affected populations.
In addition to providing basic education at two refugee camps in Kenya and six camps in South Sudan, incentives there promote the enrollment and regular attendance of girls, given the numerous barriers to girls’ education. Another focus is on accessibility for and inclusion of physically challenged youth to education. Malnutrition, child health and regular attendance concerns are addressed through school feeding programs.
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.