ELCA Advocacy Connections: March 2020

COVID-19 pandemic
With daily developments in the spread and scope of the COVID-19 outbreak, our anxiety and uncertainty tempt us to curve inward and fixate on self-preservation. Last week, Congress passed emergency funding to bolster local, state and federal governments’ public health response to the virus. This is an important first step, but we must do more so that our nation’s economic and health care systems work together to minimize the impact of the outbreak on poor and low-wealth communities, the elderly and other vulnerable people. ELCA congregations and ministries are responding to the outbreak in their communities to ensure the health and safety of worshipers, staff and neighbors by adopting practices to prevent or slow transmission of COVID-19. But as church in this pandemic, we can also illuminate the impact on our most vulnerable neighbors. God calls us to stand by them in advocating for dignity, equity and justice, and ELCA Advocacy staff are monitoring the situation for policy-response opportunities for our network.
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POLICY NOTES

Landmines
On Jan. 31 the Trump administration announced a decision to lift existing U.S. prohibitions against the use of landmines, saying the prohibition could put U.S. troops at a “severe disadvantage.” As a member of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines, the ELCA signed a public statement, posted Feb. 20, that opposes the action. It says in part, “Landmines are inherently indiscriminate weapons that maim and kill long after conflicts end.” It concludes, “To roll back the progress the global community has made would not only be a tragedy but an affront to the dignity of landmine survivors around the world.”More >>



Hmong and Laotian deportations
Laotian and Hmong refugees are preparing to face a possible increase in deportations, in part because the U.S. government is funding a reintegration program to help Laos accept nationals with final orders of removal. Concern is being felt by congregations and members, particularly in the Minneapolis Area Synod, Saint Paul Area Synod and East-Central Synod of Wisconsin. St. Paul, Minn., has the largest Hmong population per capita in the United States (28,591 Hmong Americans, or 10%), followed by Wausau, Wisc. (3,569, or 9.1%).More >>



Fiscal year 2021 budget presented to Congress
President Trump presented Congress with his fiscal year 2021 budget, which includes a number of proposals rejected by Congress when they were included in previous budget proposals. Proposed cuts to SNAP amount to $181.9 billion over 10 years. With all our interfaith partners, we will work with Congress to reject these efforts once again.More >>



Fair-housing rule update 
Through March 13, public comments can be submitted through the ELCA Advocacy Action Center on a proposal that would substantially challenge prevention of discrimination in housing. Under the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposal, the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule — first designed to help localities promote diversity and inclusivity under the 1968 Fair Housing Act, and to take proactive steps to reverse the effects of housing segregation — would be rendered almost completely ineffectual.More >>
ACTION ALERTS

*New* SAFE FROM START ACT MITIGATES RISKS FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS
This bipartisan bill seeks to prevent gender-based violence and provide early interventions at the onset of humanitarian emergencies.More >>



*Final* ADDRESS FAIR HOUSING IN OUR COMMUNITIES 
Use the comment period on the proposed Department of Housing and Urban Development rule to oppose weakening of oversight and national data on fair-housing initiatives.More >>



SUPPORT THE NO BAN ACT
We are compelled to speak out on the Trump administration’s new travel restrictions on additional countries, introduced on Jan. 31.More >>



PEACE NOT WALLS – FEBRUARY
Urge Congress to refrain from funding any aspect of the “Peace to Prosperity” proposal.More >>


FEATURED RESOURCESResource: Civic Engagement GuideThe newly updated guide includes discussion starters and tip sheets on voter registration initiatives, pledge-to-vote drives, candidate forums and get-out-the-vote initiatives, as well as an introductory letter from Bishop Eaton and more.

Learn moreResource: Census 2020 Toolkit and componentsThe ELCA is an official partner of the 2020 Census as we work toward a just world where all are fed and further our commitment to greater justice in public policy and the electoral process. Share the message with posters in English and Spanish, bulletin inserts and more. 

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Blog: Virus fears and viral fears – Standing with, not targeting, peopleA startling video clip and the challenge to church of theologian Howard Thurman inform a blog post by the Rev. Amy Reumann as she looks at fears around the spread of COVID-19 and what our faith proclaims in this moment, including solidarity and presence with Asian and Pacific American communities.

Learn morePosition opening: ELCA summer internsTwo people will join the ELCA Advocacy staff in Washington, D.C., this summer for paid internships, and more will be part of ELCA ministries in Chicago. Apply and learn more through the ELCA Job Board.

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DATES OF NOTE
CREATION CARE AMBASSADOR TRAINING This free webinar training will equip you to speak and act confidently on climate change and solutions. Registration is required. More >>
EARTH DAY April 22, 2020, will mark 50 years of Earth Day, and this year’s theme is the enormous challenge and vast opportunities of climate action. The ELCA is an Earth Day faith partner.