Category Archives: Policy Update

NETWORK Urges Biden-Harris Administration to Address Suffering in our Nation

NETWORK Urges Biden-Harris Administration to Address the Suffering in our Nation

Work for Racial Justice, Respect Immigrant Rights, and Strengthen Democracy in the First 100 Days
Caraline Feairheller
December 19, 2020

As President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris prepare to take office, the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the ways our nation fails to structure a society that cares for those most in need. As both a public health crisis and an economic one, those most disproportionately affected have been communities of color and the poor. Over the years, the willful dismantling of social safety nets combined with the lack of preparedness for the pandemic have resulted in job loss, evictions, and food insecurity for millions of people.

While the injustice inherit in our system cannot be solved in the first 100 days of a new administration, a conscious commitment to alleviating the suffering can result in policies that prioritize the common good and support people and families at the economic margins.

We urge the Biden-Harris Administration to prioritize and commit themselves to systemic change in all branches of government in order to alleviate the harm brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic through the use of legislative action, such as:

  • Implementing a 6-month moratorium on forecloses and evictions.
  • Providing additional cash relief payments.
  • Creating a White House Racial Equity Office within the Executive Office of the President.
  • Require federal agencies serving populations underrepresented on voter rolls to provide voter registration services to their clients.
  • And more

In addition to these COVID-19 priorities, we call on the Biden-Harris administration to take immediate action to advance racial justice, protect immigrant rights, and strengthen democracy.

 

Download the full list of NETWORK priorities for the Biden-Harris transition.

Supreme Court due to hear ACA Repeal Arguments on Nov. 10

Supreme Court due to hear ACA Repeal Arguments on Nov. 10

Audrey Carroll
November 9, 2020

On November 10, the Supreme Court is to hear oral arguments for California v. Texas, with California leading the defense of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) alongside other allies against the Repeal Lawsuit. The Trump Administration and state attorney generals from over 15 states are in support of the lawsuit which would repeal the ACA.

Our Catholic faith teaches us that access to quality, affordable health care for all is a fundamental human right. The ACA protects the most vulnerable among us. If the repeal lawsuits succeeds, more than 21 million people would lose health insurance, according to the Urban InstituteNot only would the Trump Administration’s use of the Supreme Court to destroy the ACA  be an abuse of power, but the decision to repeal the Affordable Care Act would risk many lives. Notably, the decision to overturn the ACA would affect the 133 million Americans who have a pre-existing healthcare condition. In the middle of a pandemic where 210,000 Americans lost their lives from COVID-19, the Trump Administration continues to dismantle affordable, accessible  health care.

In 2010, NETWORK joined tens of thousands of Catholic Sisters in their letter to Congress supporting healthcare legislation. In 2017, more than 7,000 Sisters signed NETWORK Lobby’s “Nun Letter” against the ACA Repeal. In the 2017 letter, NETWORK executive director Sister Simone Campbell, SSS,  wrote, “As Catholic Sisters, we stand by our belief that health is a universal right and urge Senators to vote no on the motion to proceed for any bill that would repeal the ACA and cut Medicaid.”

The Affordable Care Act is vital for our health care system, with patient protections and health benefits which have raised the quality of care for millions of people in the U.S. Its repeal would be detrimental. With President Trump failing to win his reelection campaign, we still face significant challenges in protecting legislation like the Affordable Care Act. That’s why NETWORK is holding a Post-Election Debrief webinar on Tuesday, November 10 at 4:00 PM Eastern/1:00 PM Pacific. Click here to register for the webinar and learn more about what to expect following the 2020 Election.

Catholic Sisters to President Trump: Count Every Vote

Catholic Sisters to President Trump: Count Every Vote

On November 4, 2020, over 1,500 Catholic Sisters from across the United States sent a letter to President Trump urging him to respect our democracy and count every vote.

Read the letter below, or download as a PDF


November 4, 2020

President Donald J. Trump

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump,

A few weeks before this historic election, Pope Francis published a new encyclical where he wondered “what do certain words like democracy, freedom, justice or unity really mean?” Have they, as the Pope writes, been “bent and shaped to serve as tools for domination, as meaningless tags that can be used to justify any action?”

That question has never been clearer than today, when some elected officials make the immoral choice to hold onto power at any cost, including disenfranchising thousands, denying their most sacred gift: their voice.

Each vote left uncounted represents a soul with a story. Over the last several weeks, Sisters virtually visited over 60 communities across the country where people came together to share their struggles with one another. It was clear from coast to coast that there are urgent needs to keep one another safe from disease, end structural racism, fix our broken immigration system, support social programs that pull families out of poverty, and expand health care access for all people. This election season reminded many of the equally sacred priorities of our shared faith in these challenging times.

People are afraid of losing their healthcare, looking at the ashes of a home destroyed by a wildfire, searching for solutions to end systemic racism, wondering where their next paycheck will come from, or mourning the loss of a relative to COVID-19. Across the country, these Americans took their country up on its promise: that they could vote to elect leaders and chart a new course. Now we see their votes discounted in our election process.

Americans know that thoughts and prayers alone will not end their pain and suffering and that they must act. That’s why it should be no wonder that we saw a historic number of people cast a ballot. Each of these individuals must have a say in who represents them in government. We must ensure that every vote is counted, in accordance with applicable laws, no matter how long the process takes.

Catholic Social Teaching urges us to act on behalf of those who are marginalized in our society. We have a responsibility to one another, not to help one political party win, but to live up to our values. In the words of Pope Francis we must act “In the name of the poor, the destitute, the marginalized and those most in need, whom God has commanded us to help as a duty required of all persons, especially the wealthy and those of means.”

We took vows as Catholic Sisters, and you took a vow to uphold the Constitution.

Stay true to your vow. Count the votes. Ensure the United States lives up to its promise. Every voice — and every vote — is sacred, especially the most marginalized among us.

Sincerely,
Sister Simone Campbell, SSS
Executive Director, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

And more than 1,900 Catholic Sisters from across the United States.

NETWORK Urges Rejection of Barrett Nomination

NETWORK Urges Rejection of Barrett Nomination

Sister Quincy Howard, OP
October 23, 2020

Yesterday, NETWORK sent the following vote recommendation to all Senate offices ahead of the upcoming Senate vote on confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. NETWORK previously contacted members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to express our opposition to her nomination, but the committee vote passed yesterday with twelve Republican senators voting in favor and all Democratic senators boycotting the vote. We expect the full Senate to vote on Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation Monday.

You can call your Senators and ask them to vote no by dialing 888-738-3058 (be sure to call twice to reach both offices).

Click here to read the vote recommendation sent to all Senate offices, or read an excerpt below:

NETWORK Assessment of Judge Amy Coney Barret

Judge Barrett is being touted as a “pro-life” nomination due to her commitment to overturning Roe vs. Wade. Yet Catholic Social Teaching has upheld the sacredness of all life, from conception to death, and Pope Francis has made clear that abortion is not the only issue that matters. Equally sacred are those already born, including the sick, disabled, and elderly; people and families on the economic margins; migrants and refugees; and those oppressed by racial and other forms of discrimination. Judge Barrett’s rulings and public statements have shown that she does not hold all life sacred.

    • Sick, Disabled, and Elderly: We hold equally sacred the lives of those who are vulnerable due to impaired health, many of whom do not have adequate access to health care. If confirmed to the Supreme Court, Judge Barrett is expected to be the deciding vote to strike down the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, depriving millions of people of their access to health care during a global pandemic that has killed 210,000 Americans. The ACA provides critical health care protections for people with pre-existing conditions and disabilities, ensures that young people under 26 can remain on their parents’ health insurance, removes caps on expensive medical treatments, and covers millions of Americans through Medicaid expansion. Yet Judge Barrett’s writings have indicated that she opposes the ACA. In 2017, she implied that the law was unconstitutional.[i] She also signed a 2012 petition objecting to employer health plans including contraception coverage.[ii]
    • Economic Justice: Equally sacred are the lives of those living on the margins struggling to survive against economic injustice. This global pandemic has left millions of people without jobs, food security, housing, and childcare. Our most essential workers – many of whom are low-wage earners – have had to choose between their jobs and their health and safety. We need a Justice who will uphold worker protections, consumer safety, and protect the social safety net. Judge Barrett has instead stood with corporate interests, ruling that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act does not protect job applicants from policies that discriminate based on age and against a plaintiff who sought written verification of a debt she was said to have owed.[iii]
    • Migrants and Refugees: Catholic Social Teaching affirms the rights of all peoples to seek the best lives for themselves, and equally sacred are the lives of migrants and refugees who have endured immoral and cruel assaults on their humanity through the prohibition of asylum claims, separation of families, and forced hysterectomies. Judge Barrett has made her hostility toward immigrants evident in a number of cases that have come before her. In two separate instances, she sided with the Board of Immigration Appeals to deny asylum to Salvadorans under the Convention Against Torture[iv] and cast the deciding vote deporting a Mexican immigrant who had been a lawful permanent resident without having the opportunity to argue against his deportation in court.[v] She dissented in Cook County v. Wolf, which temporarily barred the implementation of the public charge rule, supporting the administration’s interpretation of the law.
    • Racial and LGBTQ Discrimination: Equally sacred are the rights of all people to live their lives free from oppression in all forms. Following months of high-profile shootings of African Americans and subsequent national demonstrations concerning racial injustices, the United States can ill afford a Supreme Court Justice with a record of upholding discriminatory practices. In EEOC v. AutoZone, Barrett ruled against an African-American worker whose company assigned employees to certain stores based on their race, a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. She has also stated her opposition to federal law protecting LGBTQ marriage and including Transgender people as protected under Title IX.[vi]

For these reasons, we do not support the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court Justice. Justices are appointed for life and their decisions reverberate for generations.

[i] https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2330&context=law_faculty_scholarship
[ii] https://www.afj.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Barrett-Becket-Fund-Letter.pdf
[iii] Kleber v. CareFusion Corporation; Paula Casillas v. Madison Avenue Associates Inc.
[iv] Alvarenga-Flores v. Sessions and Herrera-Garcia v. Barr
[v] Lopez Ramos v. Barr
[vi] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yjTEdZ81lI at 41:40

Amy Coney Barrett, the Supreme Court, and COVID-19: A Case of Misplaced Priorities

Amy Coney Barrett, the Supreme Court, and COVID-19: A Case of Misplaced Priorities

Laura Peralta-Schulte
October 12, 2020

Right now, families and communities across the United States are in crisis. With the COVID-19 pandemic spiraling out of control and a pronounced economic slowdown, the nation’s health and economic security are at high risk. The new Census Household Pulse Survey data released last week shows that since late August the overall number of adults struggling to cover usual household expenses such as food, rent or mortgage, car payments, medical expenses, or student loans is expanding rapidly. Nearly 77 million adults – 1 in 3 – reported it was somewhat or very difficult for their household to cover usual expenses in the past seven days, according to data collected September 16-28. Meanwhile, federal supplemental unemployment benefits have run out for millions of people who have lost their jobs, many permanently. Without federal action, jobless workers grappling with sharply reduced incomes will face growing challenges paying their bills. As Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said recently: “Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses…Even if policy actions ultimately prove to be greater than needed, they will not go to waste.”

It is against this backdrop that President Trump and Senator McConnell announced this week they are stopping negotiations with Speaker Pelosi and House leadership on a COVID-19 relief package and instead focusing solely on plans to confirm Trump’s nominee Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The Senate has failed to provide any meaningful coronavirus relief legislation since April 2020 – nearly half a year has passed with unnecessary suffering and death due to this lack of response. Urgent action should be taken to alleviating the suffering and economic distress of the people experiencing this crisis, but instead the Senate is engaged in high stakes partisan politics.

NETWORK strongly opposes a hasty confirmation process the Senate is conducting so close to a national election in which many Americans will have already cast their ballot. The timing disregards the voice of the electorate and undermines trust in our democratic institutions, which is already fragile. There is a real cost to tarnishing the national perception of Congress and the presidency by focusing on expediting a Supreme Court nominee while failing to attend to the protracted national suffering.

During this fragile time in our nation, it is vital that our national leaders act with prudence rather than political posturing. Our democratic institutions are maintained by norms and tradition to uphold the balance of powers between the three branches of government. There is no precedent for allowing a president to have such extraordinary influence over the outcome of the next federal election, which he is already threatening to contest. The one at risk of facing judgment should not get to choose the judges.

A fast-tracked confirmation process of Judge Barrett is a clear abdication of the Senate’s constitutional advice-and-consent function. It jeopardizes the rights and lives of the most vulnerable among us and it undermines the integrity of our most basic democratic norms and institutions.

October 2020 feels like a tipping point for our democracy –the fatigue and hardship of the people, the cynicism and division of the civic body, the disinformation inundating the public is palpable. Just because one party has the constitutional right to seize power in a situation does not justify the damage it will do to our civic fabric.  The rush to hold Supreme Court hearings at this time, before this particular election is ill-advised and unnecessary.  There is no constitutional requirement for the timing of this process and we urge Senator McConnell and members of the Judiciary Committee to wait until after the election has been certified.

By forcing this nomination through, in this manner, President Trump and Republican leadership are endangering what remains of our civic trust and putting our very democracy at risk instead of doing the right thing, the just thing, of meeting the real needs of our people in these difficult times.

NETWORK Letter Urges “NO” Vote on Judge Amy Coney Barrett

NETWORK Letter Urges “NO” Vote on Judge Amy Coney Barrett

Sister Quincy Howard, OP
October 9, 2020

NETWORK Lobby’s Government Relations team sent the following letter to  Senate Judiciary Committee staffers as they begin hearings on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination. NETWORK opposes the nomination because of both Judge Barrett’s judicial record and the rushed timing before the November 3rd election.

Read the letter below:

“Dear Senator:

We write today on behalf of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice (“NETWORK”) and our 90,000 supporters living throughout the United States to express strong opposition to the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court. NETWORK educates, organizes, and lobbies for economic and social transformation and has a 49-year record of accomplishment lobbying for critical federal programs that prioritize the common good and support those at the economic margins. Inspired by our founding Catholic Sisters and the leadership of the women who followed, we faithfully embody Gospel justice as we work for change. We believe that the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett would not be in the interest of the common good. Moreover, pursuing a rushed confirmation process at this particular time in our nation is misguided and recklessly undermines trust in our democratic institutions.

Assessment of Judge Amy Coney Barret

Judge Barrett is being touted as a “pro-life” nomination due to her commitment to overturning Roe vs. Wade. Yet Catholic Social Teaching has upheld the sacredness of all life, from conception to death, and Pope Francis has made clear that abortion is not the only issue that matters. Equally sacred are those already born, including the sick, disabled, and elderly; people and families on the economic margins; migrants and refugees; and those oppressed by racial and other forms of discrimination. Judge Barrett’s rulings and public statements have shown that she does not hold all life sacred.

Sick, Disabled, and Elderly: We hold equally sacred the lives of those who are vulnerable due to impaired health, many of whom do not have adequate access to health care. If confirmed to the Supreme Court, Judge Barrett is expected to be the deciding vote to strike down the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, depriving millions of people of their access to health care during a global pandemic that has killed 210,000 Americans. The ACA provides critical health care protections for people with pre-existing conditions and disabilities, ensures that young people under 26 can remain on their parents’ health insurance, removes caps on expensive medical treatments, and covers millions of Americans through Medicaid expansion. Yet Judge Barrett’s writings have indicated that she opposes the ACA. In 2017, she implied that the law was unconstitutional. She also signed a 2012 petition objecting to employer health plans including contraception coverage.

Economic Justice: Equally sacred are the lives of those living on the margins struggling to survive against economic injustice. This global pandemic has left millions of people without jobs, food security, housing, and childcare. Our most essential workers – many of whom are low-wage earners – have had to choose between their jobs and their health and safety. We need a Justice who will uphold worker protections, consumer safety, and protect the social safety net. Judge Barrett has instead stood with corporate interests, ruling that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act does not protect job applicants from policies that discriminate based on age and against a plaintiff who sought written verification of a debt she was said to have owed.

Migrants and Refugees: Catholic social teaching affirms the rights of all peoples to seek the best lives for themselves, and equally sacred are the lives of migrants and refugees who have endured immoral and cruel assaults on their humanity through the prohibition of asylum claims, separation of families, and forced hysterectomies. Judge Barrett has made her hostility toward immigrants evident in a number of cases that have come before her. In two separate instances, she sided with the Board of Immigration Appeals to deny asylum to Salvadorans under the Convention Against Torture and cast the deciding vote deporting a Mexican immigrant who had been a lawful permanent resident without having the opportunity to argue against his deportation in court. She dissented in Cook County v. Wolf, which temporarily barred the implementation of the public charge rule, supporting the administration’s interpretation of the law.

Racial and LGBTQ Discrimination: Equally sacred are the rights of all people to live their lives free from oppression in all forms. Following months of high-profile shootings of African Americans and subsequent national demonstrations concerning racial injustices, the United States can ill afford a Supreme Court Justice with a record of upholding discriminatory practices. In EEOC v. AutoZone, Barrett ruled against an African-American worker whose company assigned employees to certain stores based on their race, a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. She has also stated her opposition to federal law protecting LGBTQ marriage and including Transgender people as protected under Title IX.

For these reasons, we do not support the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court Justice. Justices are appointed for life and their decisions reverberate for generations.

Assessment of the Nomination Process

Aside from the merits of the nominee, NETWORK also strongly opposes a hasty confirmation process so close to a national election in which many Americans will have already cast their ballot. The timing disregards the voice of the electorate and undermines trust in our democratic institutions, which is already fragile. We are a nation traumatized by deep divisions, suffering and economic pain; the unnecessary coronavirus death toll of more than 200,000 people is one such example of this national trauma. There is a real cost to the public perception of a Congress and a president focused on expediting a Supreme Court nominee while failing to attend to the protracted national suffering.

During this fragile time in our nation, it is vital that our national leaders act with prudence rather than political posturing. Our democratic institutions are maintained by norms as much as strict law and order. There is no precedent for allowing a president to have such extraordinary influence over the outcome of an election, which he is already threatening to contest. The one at risk of facing judgment ought not to choose the judges.

A fast-tracked confirmation process of Judge Barrett is a clear abdication of the Senate’s constitutional advise-and-consent function. It jeopardizes the rights and lives of the most vulnerable among us and it undermines the integrity of our most basic democratic norms and institutions. For all of these reasons, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice urges you as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote against the rushed nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

You may also read a copy of NETWORK’s letter here.

NETWORK Joins Partners in Supporting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Vote

NETWORK Joins Partners in Supporting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Vote

Sister Quincy Howard, OP
September 15, 2020

National policies must ensure family-friendly workplace protections in order to respect the needs of each individual. Workers, especially women of color, must have a work environment where everyone can balance work and family responsibilities. NETWORK Lobby joined its faith and religious organization partners on Friday, September 11th in signing on to a letter to the House of Representatives supporting the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694).

The letter read: “Our faith traditions affirm the dignity of pregnant individuals and the moral imperative of ensuring their safety. We also affirm the dignity of work and the obligation to treat workers justly. It is immoral for an employer to force a worker to choose between a healthy pregnancy and earning a living. By passing the bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694), Congress will ensure that workers who are pregnant will be treated fairly in the
workforce and can continue earning income to support themselves and their families.”

Read the letter of support below:

“Dear Representative,

On behalf of the undersigned religious and faith-based organizations representing a diversity of faith traditions and communities across the nation, we write today in support of healthy workplace environments and conditions for pregnant workers. We urge you to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694). People of faith across the ideological spectrum understand that prioritizing the health and safety of pregnant workers should not be a partisan issue. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would ensure that pregnant workers can continue safely working to support their families during a pregnancy. The bill requires employers to make the same sort of accommodations for pregnant workers as are already in place for workers with disabilities.

Our faith traditions affirm the dignity of pregnant individuals and the moral imperative of ensuring their safety. We also affirm the dignity of work and the obligation to treat workers justly. It is immoral for an employer to force a worker to choose between a healthy pregnancy and earning a living. By passing the bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694), Congress will ensure that workers who are pregnant will be treated fairly in the workforce and can continue earning income to support themselves and their families. Efforts to distract from the central goal of ensuring pregnant workers can maintain their health and the health of their pregnancies by inserting unnecessary, harmful, and politically divisive language into this bill undermines our obligation to protect pregnant workers across our country.

While many pregnant individuals continue working throughout their pregnancies without incident, there are instances when minor accommodations are necessary at the workplace to ensure the safety of the expecting mother and the baby. All too often, requests for simple workplace accommodations like a stool to sit, a water bottle, or a bathroom break are denied. Within the COVID-19 context, such critical accommodations might include proper protective equipment, telework, or staggered work schedules that offer employees commute times which avoid crowded public transportation and increased exposure. Currently, pregnant workers may continue to work without necessary accommodations because they fear losing their jobs and need the income, thus endangering their health or the health of their pregnancy. Without these protections, it is not uncommon for pregnant workers to be let go or forced out onto unpaid leave for requesting accommodations. Many others must quit their job to avoid risking the health of their pregnancy.

Passing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is a moral and economic imperative; two-thirds of women who had their first child between 2006 and 2008 worked during pregnancy, and 88 percent of these first-time mothers worked into their last trimester. Keeping these women healthy and in the workforce is paramount to family economic security. Nearly 25 million mothers with children under 18 are in the workforce, making up nearly 1 in 6 of all workers. And about 3 in 4 mothers in the workforce are working full time. Millions of families rely on their earnings. In 2017, 41 percent of mothers were the sole or primary breadwinners in their families, while 23.2 percent of mothers were co-breadwinners. Whole families suffer when pregnant workers are forced out of a job.

The undersigned religious and faith-based groups are united in support of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. We strongly urge you to vote for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and to vote against any motion to recommit that may be offered.

Sincerely, the undersigned:
Ameinu
Arizona Jews for Justice
Aytzim: Ecological Judaism
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
Catholic Labor Network
Church World Service
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces
Faith Action Network
Faith Action Network – Washington State
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Keshet
Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action
Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Boston
Jewish Women International
Justice Revival
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Council of Churches
National Council of Jewish Women
Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Pax Christi USA
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Union for Reform Judaism
Uri L’Tzedek
Women of Reform Judaism

Read the letter here

Our Nation’s Political and Moral Response to a Global Pandemic

Our Nation’s Political and Moral Response to a Global Pandemic

Seeking Justice in the Face of Both a Health and Economic Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused illness and death and led to widespread unemployment and an entirely new daily reality in the United States and across the world. NETWORK quickly shifted lobbying priorities, advocating for workers and families to be prioritized in every coronavirus response package passed by Congress. We knew that those with the least would be the ones hurt the most by this crisis, as is often the case.

The COVID-19 pandemic is both a public health crisis and an economic one, and people of color have been disproportionately affected on both counts. Families and individuals, especially in communities of color, will continue to experience the negative financial effects of this crisis for months and even years to come. We need structural solutions. Congress must recognize the challenges facing those at the economic margins during this difficult time and choose people over profit in all of their policy decisions.

COVID-19 has given new urgency and significance to our moral mandate to provide health care for all, to protect the rights and health of workers, to ensure sufficient affordable housing, and to mend the gaps in all other areas of our society. As we continue our advocacy, we recognize the undeniable truth that during this pandemic, and at all times, the wellbeing of our nation depends on the wellbeing of each and every person.

So far, three main pieces of legislation have become law, with some provisions supporting health and the common good, and others giving tax breaks and other benefits to the wealthiest people and corporations. Further action must still be taken, however, to provide sufficient financial resources for families and individuals to be able to afford their rent and other necessities. In May, the House passed another large package with billions of dollars that would go toward those most affected by this crisis. The Senate must act to pass similar legislation to respond to the needs of our nation.

 

This story was originally published in the Third Quarter 2020 issue of Connection magazine. Read the full issue

‘Why We Can’t Wait’ Letter Urges US Congress to Pass HR 40, Reparations Bill

‘Why We Can’t Wait’ Letter Urges US Congress to Pass HR 40, Reparations Bill

NETWORK joined partner organizations in signing onto a letter sent to House leadership on July 30, 2020 in support of HR 40. The letter reads:

“Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s seminal text, “Why We Can’t Wait,” was written in 1963 and has emerged as more prescient than ever in this moment. The multi-racial, cross-generational protests across the United States have ushered in a national reckoning on structural racism—and a sea change in attitudes. A majority of people in the US support the protests and believe that racism is a serious issue in this country. We, the undersigned organizations, believe addressing it can no longer wait.

People in the US are now more eager than ever to pull back the curtain on institutions to see whether they have helped to advance or stall racial progress, and the US Congress is no exception. One bill in particular can demonstrate support for meeting this moment in a reasonable, rational, and compassionate way: House Resolution (HR) 40. We urge House and Committee leadership to bring this bill to a vote now.

The current social movement, the largest in US history, is in response to problems that are centuries in the making—issues intractably tied to the horrors of settler colonialism and the enslavement of Black people in the United States. People in the US are increasingly aware that there is no way forward from the current strife without addressing one of the nation’s most egregious violations of human rights—the institution of slavery. HR 40 would establish a commission to investigate the legacy of slavery and its ongoing harms as well as come up with proposals to Congress for redress and repair.

HR 40 is simply a first and reasonable step—it is a commitment to truth-telling, studying and coming up with ideas to treat the disease, rather than a commitment to the treatment itself. The bill has been introduced for 30 years—yet for 30 years, it has languished. If the protests have demonstrated anything, it is that action cannot wait.”

Read the full letter with signatures.

NETWORK Lobby Supports the No Ban Act and Access to Counsel Act

NETWORK Lobby Supports the No Ban Act and Access to Counsel Act

Giovana Oaxaca
July 24, 2020

The Trump Administration has made several attempts to curb immigration under the guise of public health through rules that are clearly discriminatory amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday, NETWORK Lobby sent a letter to the House of Representatives in support of the No Ban Act and the Access to Counsel Act of 2020.

The letter read, “On behalf of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice and our 100,000 members from across the country, we write to express our support for the No Ban Act and the Access to Counsel Act of 2020 (together, H.R. 2486). NETWORK Lobby recognizes that all displaced people deserve access to protection, regardless of the faith they practice our country of origin. Welcoming individuals of all backgrounds is not only an American value enshrined in the U.S Constitution, but also a basic tenet of Catholic Social Justice. Consistent with our values, we call on Congress to pass the No Ban Act and Access to Counsel Act of 2020 without amendments or changes.”

Please read NETWORK’s letter of support below:

NETWORK Lobby Supports the No Ban Act and Access to Counsel Act

Dear Representative,

On behalf of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice and our 100,000 members from across the country, we write to express our support for the No Ban Act and the Access to Counsel Act of 2020 (together, H.R. 2486). NETWORK Lobby recognizes that all displaced people deserve access to protection, regardless of the faith they practice our country of origin. Welcoming individuals of all backgrounds is not only an American value enshrined in the U.S Constitution, but also a basic tenet of Catholic Social Justice. Consistent with our values, we call on Congress to pass the No Ban Act and Access to Counsel Act of 2020 without amendments or changes.

The NO BAN Act is an effective counter measure against numerous anti-immigrant executive orders and bans that have been issued under the guise of national security in recent months and years. These wide-scale and discriminatory bans have in use since the early days of this Administration, when President Trump issued the Muslim Ban. After a lengthy legal challenge in the courts, a version of the ban stayed in place despite the objection of humanitarian and civil rights advocates, NETWORK Lobby among them. It effectively precludes people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as other countries from entering the country. Like the refugee ban—which specifically targets refugees for extreme vetting—the ban targeting asylum-seekers arriving at the border, the expanded “African” ban on Nigerian, Sudanese, Tanzanian, and Eritrean nationals, and countless other orders promulgated in response to the COVID-19 global health crisis, the travel bans extend the Executive Branch’s authority to restrict or suspend immigrant entry, even when these bans exhibit discrimination on the basis of gender and race—clear violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) nondiscrimination clause.

We stand in solidarity with people of Muslim, African, Arab, Iranian, Middle Eastern, Central American, and South Asian communities impacted by this Administration’s travel bans. President Trump’s promulgations on travel restrictions for countries where a majority of peoples are people of color or religious minorities, defy our nation’s leadership in the cause for religious freedom and racial equality at home and abroad. Passing the No BAN Act is an important step in prohibiting arbitrary discrimination from happening in the future, by imposing stricter requirements before any future ban could be issued, as well as reporting requirements to Congress to create an oversight mechanism once any future ban is in place.

This critical legislation would repeal President Trump’s Muslim ban, asylum ban, and refugee ban, and make necessary reforms to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to prevent future discriminatory bans. During the markup, the bill was amended to rescind the President’s recently expanded Muslim ban, targeting more Africans, and require reporting related to this ban, which was issued on January 31, 2020 and is now in effect. The language in this bill went through numerous negotiations, including during the House Judiciary Committee markup, to ensure that it would continue to provide meaningfully protection for impacted communities.

The Access to Counsel Act of 2020 would allow U.S. citizens or those who otherwise have lawful immigration status in the United States access to legal representation. Since the first Muslim ban, we have seen individuals detained at airports, barred from boarding flights overseas and in some cases forced to relinquish their immigration status without any opportunity to gain legal support. Access to counsel is critical to protect individuals from discriminatory government action.

This landmark bill honors our commitment to religious freedom and protection against discrimination. NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice urges Congress to vote YES to passing the NO BAN Act and Access to Counsel Act of 2020 and vote NO to any amendments.