Category Archives: Women and Families

During Black Maternal Health Week, We Call on Congress to Pass the Momnibus Act

During Black Maternal Health Week, We Call on Congress to Pass the Momnibus Act

Caraline Feairheller
April 14, 2021

This week, Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14), and 77 original cosponsors introduced a resolution recognizing Black Maternal Health Week, “to bring national attention to the maternal health crisis in the United States and the urgent importance of reducing maternal mortality and morbidity among Black women and birthing persons.”

The United States has a maternal mortality health crisis that must be addressed. Around the developed world, pregnancy-related mortality rates are falling, except in the United States – where birthing people are dying at a morally unacceptable and rising rate. Approximately 700 women die each year due to pregnancy-related causes with an additional 50,000 experiencing severe health complications from pregnancy. This crisis is most severe for Black birthing people, who are dying 3 to 4 times the rate of their white counterparts. This is a tragedy for our society and for the families who have lost loved ones, and the racial disparities are unjust and sinful.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the barriers to accessing care and exacerbated the already existing racial disparities. Congresswoman Adams, co-founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus pointed this out, saying, “Black Americans were one of the hardest hit communities during this pandemic, and Black and Hispanic mothers accounted for a majority of COVID-19 cases among pregnant women in the United States.” We must dismantle the systemic racism in our health care system and our nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to build anew together.

Earlier this year,  members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus introduced the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act (H.R.595/S.346) to address the maternal health crisis. In a country where at least 60% of maternal deaths are preventable, the Momnibus helps to fill current policy gaps in receiving care.  This comprehensive legislation seeks to address social determinants of health, invest in community-based organizations, fund research development and data collection, and invest in efforts to diversify the perinatal workforce. In total, the Momnibus is a combination of 12 standalone bills that have been introduced or reintroduced into the 117th Congress. NETWORK is proud to support the Momnibus Act, applauds the Black Maternal Health Caucus for its leadership, and calls on Congress to pass this critical legislation immediately. The Momnibus includes the following legislation:

The Social Determinants for Moms Act (H.R.943):

Introduced by Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA-06), this legislation recognizes that social determinants of health, defined as the conditions where people live, learn, work, and play; affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes. By focusing on these social determinants, this legislation will address the root cause of gaps in care by establish a task force to coordinate federal efforts to address social determinants, provide funding for safe and quality housing for pregnant people, extending Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) eligibility periods for new moms, and invest in funding research that will explore environmental risk, transportation barriers, and more.

The Kira Johnson Act (H.R.1212):

Introduced by Representative Alma Adams (D-NC-12), this legislation is named after Kira Johnson who, despite being in excellent health, died from a hemorrhage after delivering her son Langston. Unfortunately, Kira’s story is not unique in the United States. In order to combat the complex causes of maternal mortality and promote accountability, this legislation invests in community-based organizations that are leading the charge to support outcomes for Black pregnant and postpartum people and women of color. It provides support for bias and anti-racism training programs as well as establishes the Respectful Maternity Care Compliance Programs within hospitals so families can report instances of racial or other types of bias.

Protecting Moms Who Served Act (H.R.958):

Introduced by Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), this legislation seeks to uncover the reality for the more than two million women veterans in the United States and their maternal health outcomes. As so little is known about maternal health among veterans, this legislation will commission the first-ever study on the maternal health crises among veterans; with a specific focus on racial and ethnic disparities and identifying potential mental and behavioral risks. Following the study, recommendations will be made to healthcare providers. The legislation will  also provide funding towards ensuring coordination takes place between Veterans Affairs and non-Veterans Affairs facilities, facilitate access to community resources, and offer childcare and parenting classes to veterans.

Perinatal Workforce Act:

Introduced by Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), this legislation addresses the lack of access to maternity care found in both rural and urban communities. More than 1/3 of counties in the United State are considered ‘maternity care deserts meaning that more than 7 million birthing people live where there is no or limited access to maternity care. Specifically, this legislation establishes grant programs to increase access to maternity care providers, provides guidance to states on diverse maternal care, will allow programs to increase number of nurses and other health care workers, and fund studies on barriers that prevent women from entering maternity care professions.

Data to Save Moms Act (H.R.952/S.347):

Introduced by Representative Sharice Davids (D-KS-3) and Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), this legislation builds off the 2018 Preventing Maternal Deaths law by promoting greater levels of representative community engagement in Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRCs). MMRCS gather key stakeholders together to listen to the experiences of pregnant people and how these stories can inform health quality measures that promote safe, culturally competent, patient-centered maternity care. Also, this legislation invests in improving data collection and maternal health research at Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs.) Finally, this legislation will establish the first-ever comprehensive study to understand the scope of the Native American maternal health crisis, who are more than twice as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts.

Moms Matter Act (H.R.909/S.484):

Introduced by Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE-AL), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Representative John Katko (R-NY-24), this bipartisan legislation addresses the unique challenge maternal mental health conditions as “mental health conditions are one of the leading causes of pregnancy-related deaths.” This crises is disproportionately felt by Black birthing people who are at increased risk for suicidal ideation and intentional self-harm during pregnancy and postpartum. This legislation will make investments in programs that support moms with maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders, create initiatives that address stigma, and invest in suicide prevention programs. Also, it will provide funding to grow and diversity the maternal mental health care workforce in order to create culturally-competent care for pregnant and postpartum people with maternal mental health conditions.

Justice for Incarcerated Moms Act (H.R.948/S.341):

Introduced by Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), this legislation addresses the maternal health crises of pregnant people who are incarcerated, as they face a heighted risk for maternal mortality. The consequences of the United States addiction to mass incarceration from 190 to 2016 has resulted in the number of women in prison increasing nearly 742%, of those who are incarcerated it is Black women who are imprisoned at twice the rate of white women. This legislation will seek to end the immoral practice of shackling pregnant people, provide funds for reentry assistance programs, funds for diversionary programs to prevent incarceration of pregnant and postpartum people, and study the negative implications of Medicaid coverage termination for incarcerated mothers.

Tech to Save Moms Act (H.R.937):

Introduced by Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-32) and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), this legislation recognizes that digital tools, such as telehealth services, can play an important and unique role in addressing maternal health in underserved areas. Specifically, this legislation will promote integration and development of telehealth, provide grants to ensure high-speed, reliable internet access; promote digital tools designed to address racial and ethnic disparities, and study the use of new technology in preventing racial and ethnic bias.

IMPACT to Save Moms Act (H.R.950/S.334):

Introduced by Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), this legislation recognizes that maternal care payment options affect maternal health outcomes. The legislation will establish a new Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that promotes equitable and quality maternal health outcomes for pregnant people covered by Medicaid. It also develops strategies to ensure continuity of health insurance coverage for pregnant and postpartum people, including presumptive eligibility for Medicaid/CHIP programs, automatic reenrollment in Medicaid/CHIP for birthing people, and prevents any disruptions on coverage during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and up to one year postpartum.

Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act:

Introduced by Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), this legislation recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemics has worsened the already existing and immoral maternal mortality crisis in the United States. Pregnant people are at a significant risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes and Black women experienced a disproportionate number of deaths. This legislation makes targeted investments to advance safe maternal health outcomes during COVID-19 and beyond. It will require COVID-19 data collection be disaggregated by pregnancy status, ensure vaccines are safe for pregnant people, and establish a take force for creating safe birthing experiences during COVID-19 and potential future disease outbreaks.

Protecting Moms and Babies Against Climate Change Act (H.R.957/S.423):

Introduced by Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), this legislation recognizes the reality of climate change exacerbating risks for pregnant people. As climate change results in greater air pollution and heat exposure, pregnant people and their infants are at risk and the legacy of environmental racism leaves Black mothers particularly at risk. This legislation will establish research opportunities on the relationship between climate change and pregnancy, design programs to identify climate change risk zones for pregnant people and their babies, provide health professional training on how to mitigate the risk of climate-change related risks, and provide funding to improve infrastructure.

Maternal Vaccination Act (H.R.951/S.345):

Introduced by Representative Terri A. Sewell (D-AL-07) and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), this legislation will provide funding for programs to increase maternal vaccinations rates and develop maternal vaccinations campaigns with community-based partner organizations and trusted leaders.

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 is a necessary and comprehensive collection of 12 bills that must be passed into law in order to address the immoral legacy of the United State maternal mortality crisis. NETWORK Lobby urges members of Congress to quickly pass the Momnibus, in its entirety, in order to honor the essential dignity of each human person.

Learn more about each of the bills included in the Momnibus Act here.

NETWORK Urges Congress to Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act

NETWORK Urges Congress to Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act

Gina Kelley
April 14, 2021

Ahead of the expected House vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 7) NETWORK sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives urging them to support this legislation as it eliminates loopholes in existing legislation, helps break harmful patterns of pay discrimination, and strengthens workplace protections for women.

Our faith teaches us that just and equal pay is necessary to recognize the dignity of work. Almost six decades after the landmark Equal Pay Act was signed into law, the gender and racial pay gap persists and this legislation takes a necessary and immediate step towards ending this immoral reality. Women, especially women of color, have been carrying a devastating burden for decades. Equal pay cannot be up for debate. Women have been economically exploited and treated as second-class citizens since the inception of this country. Widespread wage discrimination continues that legacy today. The Paycheck Fairness Act takes a necessary step towards ending systemic wage theft and discriminatory practices against women.

The choice could not be clearer. Now is the time to support women. NETWORK advocates strongly urge Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act because of the victories it achieves for working women across the country.

Read Our Vote Recommendation Letter on the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R.7)

Women’s Equality Requires Raising the Wage

Women’s Equality Requires Raising the Wage

Gina Kelley
March 24, 2021

This last year has been a challenging one for all us, but women have carried a heavy burden throughout this pandemic. In 2020, women’s unemployment hit its highest since 1948 with Black and Latina women facing higher rates of unemployment than white women and men. In February 2021, it was reported that women, in particular women of color, had lost 5.4 million jobs—nearly 1 million more than men. Women have also had to leave the workforce as the pandemic has closed schools and childcare facilities leaving many women to take on this essential caretaking role. This pandemic has not created inequalities, instead it has exploited what was already there.

March is Women’s History Month and the 24th is Women’s Equal Pay Day. Equal Pay Day marks the day in the year when women earn what men did the previous year, meaning it takes 15 months for women to earn what men do in 12. On average, women are paid 82 cents on every dollar a man makes meaning that on a typical 9:00-5:00 workday, women start working for no pay at 2:40 p.m. These Equal Pay Days continue throughout the year with Mother’s Equal Pay Day in June, Black Women’s in August, Indigenous Women in September, and Latina Women in September.

Clearly, working women, particularly women of color, are facing a devastating economic reality. While the American Rescue Plan achieved major victories for families across the country, it failed to raise the minimum wage. Raising the wage is essential to closing the gender and racial pay gap that has harmed marginalized communities for centuries.

The Raise the Wage Act of 2021 proposes slowly increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 over 5 years and ends subminimum wage practices for tipped, youth, and disabled workers over a 6 years. The tipped minimum wage is a currently only $2.13 an hour and creating one fair wage of $15 would greatly benefit women who represent more than two-thirds of tipped workers. Coupled with the Raise the Wage Act, Congress must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which provides more remedies for gender pay discrimination.

So what would a $15 minimum wage mean for women?

Of the 32 million workers whose pay would increase from the Raise the Wage Act, 59% are women and more than a quarter have children. That means 19 million women would benefit. Nearly 1 in 4 of those women are Black or Latina. Women, and in particular women of color, are overrepresented in low-wage jobs due to historical gender and racial occupational segregation. According to recent reports, women working year-round, on average, would see an increase of about $3,500 in wages annually. For Black and Latina women, this figure increases to $3,700. 3.4 million Black women and 4 million Latina would see this substantial and transformative pay increase. Additionally, 8 million mothers across the country would see similar benefits giving them the capability and power to support their families. Analysis of 2019 data found that among mothers who would get a raise, 65% are primary or sole breadwinners for their families and an additional 19% are co-breadwinners.

It could not be clearer: women need a fair wage and a chance for economic security. No one can survive on $7.25 and those in opposition to raising the minimum wage are keeping women and Black and Brown communities in poverty. Closing racial and gender wealth disparities and recovering from an economic crisis demands immediate action.  Raising the wage to $15 allows families to have food on the table and a roof over their heads. Women need justice and equality now. This Women’s History Month and this Equal Pay Day show solidarity with working women and join the fight to raise the wage.

NETWORK Supports the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

NETWORK Supports the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Caraline Feairheller
March 18, 2021

In February, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers officially re-introduced The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act into the 117th Congress. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was first introduced in 2012 and has been re-introduced in the House in almost every legislative session. NETWORK has previously supported the legislation, but Senator Mitch McConnell’s Senate failed to do their moral duty to protect mothers by not taking up the legislation. Once again, we are proud to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act because it modernizes current law and closes the gaps in protections afforded to pregnant workers. This legislation would open doors for gainfully employed women who choose to bring new life into the world.

Despite current protections for pregnant workers from workplace discrimination included in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), 2 out of 3 women who fight to get pregnancy accommodation lose their case in court. Pregnant workers should not have to choose between their income or their family’s health. However, the failure of current legislation has forced many women to choose and this moral failure is only exacerbated by the global pandemic and accompanying economic recession.

The time is long overdue for pregnant workers to get reasonable accommodations, such as extra bathroom breaks, limited contact with certain chemicals, and a reduction in lifting requirements. Catholic Social Teaching clearly states that, “human work has a special dignity and is a key to achieving justice in society.” Now is the time for Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and recognize the dignity of labor.

Read Our Letter in Support of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

NETWORK Supports Swift Passage of FAMILY Act

NETWORK Supports Swift Passage of FAMILY Act

Audrey Carroll
February 8, 2021

Last week, on the 28th anniversary of the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act, Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) officially re-introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act. The FAMILY Act would establish a national insurance fund to provide workers a portion of their wages for up to 60 days, or 12 weeks. States such as California, New York, and New Jersey already have successful personal medical leave programs in place to protect and support their workers. The FAMILY Act provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave annually for self-care, the introduction of a new child into a family, care for an ill family member, and care related to military deployment. NETWORK supports the passage of the FAMILY Act to support and sustain working people and families, and work towards a just and equitable economic system.

The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the need for investment in workers and families in order to keep our nation healthy and keep people employed. Paid leave protections are essential in crises like global health emergencies. In order to ensure long-term economic and health security, a national paid leave program must be implemented. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ final 2020 job report, over 5 million women lost their jobs in the last year, and accounted for 100% of job loss in December. Job losses were even steeper for women of color. To help reduce disparities in our workforce and the continued existence of the racial wealth and income gap, people need a guarantee of paid family and medical leave.

NETWORK has joined our partner organizations in advocating for emergency paid leave in President Biden’s American Rescue plan and supporting a permanent paid leave program. Our organization signed on to a letter urging Members of Congress to ensure strong paid leave protections. A portion of the letter read,

“We cannot safely return to in-person learning, reopen businesses and public spaces, or end this pandemic without the guarantee that workers can stay home with pay when they are sick or when they need to care for loved ones. Even before the pandemic, workers and their families lost an estimated combined $22.5 billion in wages each year due to a lack of paid family and medical leave. The lack of access to paid leave also leads to higher costs in unemployment, health care, and compounding financial losses. We must act now. Paid leave is one of the best and most cost-effective solutions we have for our public health and economic recovery and there is a path to finally pass paid leave for all in this country. We needed it the last time we faced a pandemic. We need it now. And we need it permanently.”

Read the whole 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

DACA Decision Looms during the COVID-19 Pandemic

DACA Decision Looms during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Giovana Oaxaca
May 14, 2020

The Supreme Court’s upcoming decision over whether the President acted unlawfully in 2017 in abruptly terminating Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) hangs over our nation against the backdrop of an unprecedented global pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic introduces a host of new variables to consider, like the devastation of death to COVID-19, job losses, and ensuing economic, housing, and food insecurity being felt across the nation. Financial hardship is already more likely to strike those with limited access to paid sick leave, health care, and safety net programs like low-income people; immigrants; people of color; LGBTQ communities; and incarcerated and detained people. However, since the start of the outbreak, more than 40% of Latinx, and nearly a half of Black adults have said they won’t be able to pay some of their bills, compared to about a third of all Americans.

Yet, in the midst of a pandemic, the Supreme Court is still expected to issue a decision which could lead to a loss of work permits and protections from deportation for an estimated 650,000 DACA recipients living in the United States. The economic and social wellbeing of millions would fall precipitously as 650,000 DACA recipients reckon with the loss of their status and jobs during this time of uncertainty. About 254,000 U.S.-born children have at least one parent who holds DACA and in total, 1.5 million people live with a DACA recipient. Some DACA recipients, like Luz Chavez Gonzalez, have had to step up as sole providers for their families during widespread lay-offs — both of Luz’s parents, and her two siblings have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The pandemic spotlights Latinx families vulnerability to economic insecurity during emergencies.

Impact of COVID-19 on DACA Recipients and their Families

Nationwide, immigrant are overrepresented in nearly every industry supplying essential jobs and services. An estimated six million immigrant workers, including more than 200,000 DACA recipients, are working to keep U.S supermarkets stocked and residents healthy. Many states extended broad authority for many businesses considered essential to keep operating, but few have done enough to enforce state and federal workplace protections. As a result, thousands are getting sick on the job. Farmworkers, workers in the meat packing industry, and domestic workers who are immigrants have been some of the hardest hit. More and more evidence has emerged that Latinx COVID-19 health disparities stem from systemic inequities. Latinx people are more likely to have low-paying service jobs that require them to work through the pandemic; have limited access to health care; live in close quarters; and as a result, are less likely to call out of work or seek treatment when they fall ill.

This is, in no small part, the consequence of systematic and ongoing efforts to deny workplace protections and services to low-income and people of color based on immigration status. The implementation of the Trump administration’s public charge rule that went into effect on February 24, 2020 is a case in point. Researchers found that the rule would lead to a decline in the health and financial stability because of immigrant families’ fears over how their use of public benefits would affect their adjustment of status petitions. Now, the very worst possible outcomes of excluding immigrants from federal programs are playing out at the worst time.

Despite the pressing need for greater COVID-19 medical attention, immigrants were mostly left out of Congress’ COVID-19 relief packages. Immigrants were also left out of the CARES Act economic impact payments due to language prohibiting payments for households with ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) filers, a detail not gone unnoticed. An Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy analysis found that 4.3 million adults and 3.5 million children were denied this benefit through the ITIN exclusion. Future payments should remedy this exclusion.

For all these destabilizing factors raised, a SCOTUS decision on DACA in favor of the Trump administration would be catastrophic not just for DACA recipients, but the families they provide for and the broader immigrant community in the U.S.

DACA Recipients Urge Sensitivity

On March 27, plaintiffs from one of the three DACA cases up for consideration, Wolf, et al., v. Batalla Vidal, et al, appealed to the Supreme Court that Justices consider the full breadth of consequences stemming from a decision during the pandemic. They also flagged Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Matthew Albence’s alarming threats of imminent deportation: “If they get ordered removed, and DACA is done away with by the Supreme Court, we can actually effectuate those removal orders.” The Supreme Court accepted this filing by plaintiffs and it was entered into the official record in a small victory for DACA recipients.

In the lead up to a decision, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by immigrant’s rights activist also produced more evidence of a credible fear of DACA recipient’s information being used in immigration enforcement. Namely, the FOIA uncovered edited congressional testimony and a trail of emails showing that ICE had been dishonest about its unobstructed access to DACA information, like addresses and last known filing date. Thus, even as it appears that the country is entering in a protracted recession, DACA recipients now also have to navigate around this landmine decision with possible deportation attached.

Where applicable, DACA recipients are still encouraged to submit renewals. Catholic Legal Immigration Network  (CLINIC) has a stepped up to provide up to date information for DACA recipients needing to renew. Inquiries about whether to renew should always be made to legal practitioners. CLINIC’s legal resources are available here.

Act in Solidarity with Immigrant Communities

This administration has been very blunt about its prejudice against the poor, brown, and Black immigrants, therefore, it very unlikely it will do right by recognizing the contributions of immigrants during the pandemic. It falls our elected representatives to support COVID-19 relief for immigrants and protect DACA recipients through legislation.

The Supreme Court decision could come at any time between now and the end of June. Please sign our petition asking the Senate to pass legislation protecting Dreamers: #Faith4DACA petition. Help us show that justice-seekers support DACA recipients in this time of hardship for them and for the country that we share.

For A Better COVID-19 Relief Plan, Let’s #FundFamilies

For A Better COVID-19 Relief Plan, Let’s #FundFamilies

Ness Perry 
May 12, 2020

On Thursday, May 7, 2020, NETWORK Lobby and our partners Moms Rising, Children’s Defense Fund, First Focus, and The Coalition on Human Needs gathered virtually for a tweet storm encouraging Congress to #FundFamilies. This digital action aimed to ask for increased, consistent cash assistance for families and an expansion of the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Social media is key to putting pressure on Members of Congress while in-person lobbying and hill visits are no longer an option.

NETWORK participated in the #FundFamilies tweetstorm because our faith teaches us to care for people at the margins in our country. Our economic recovery package should support those who need it the most, which is why we call on Congress to provide cash payments to every adult until the pandemic is over. This should be given to households that did not receive prior support from the CARES Act. This includes low- or no-income families that do not file tax returns, and families with ITINs including mixed-immigration status households.

Families need direct aid, as well as credits in the coming tax season. We know that the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit works, therefore we must expand it to provide aid for more families. The Child Tax Credit leaves behind more than 1/3 of children in families who earn too little to get the full credit — including 1/2 of Black and Latinx children. In order to mend the racial wealth and income gap, we must call on Congress to provide relief for all families, especially families of color.

Here are some highlights from the event:

https://twitter.com/RepBarbaraLee/status/1258442973332869124

Dreamers Brace for SCOTUS Decision

Dreamers Brace for SCOTUS Decision

Giovana Oaxaca
March 19, 2020

The executive action known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has withstood a number of legal challenges over the years. In a few months, however, the delicate future of more than 700,000 DACA recipients will face yet another test. Let the Senate know that immigrants are welcome in our nation by signing our petition.

On November 12, 2019, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the DACA cases that the Supreme Court considered for review in the fall 2019 term. Although there exist legislative solutions, such as the Dream and Promise Act which passed the House and the Dream Act and SECURE Act (introduced in the Senate), Congress has so far failed to pass meaningful protections for undocumented immigrants eligible for deferred action and temporary protected status. This has deferred the DACA matter to court cases, which have put a halt to the Trump administration’s decision to terminate DACA in September 2017. The Supreme Court’s decision will have far-reaching effects by deciding the fate of the program for the near future.

Watch interfaith leaders pray for the protection of immigrants, refugees, and DACA recipients in the #Faith4DACA vigil.

The stakes have never been higher. In a recent survey, over fifty percent of DACA recipients reported that they fear being detained or deported from the United States at least once a day. An even greater share of DACA recipients surveyed reported that they feared being separated from their children. The Supreme Court’s decision will alter the reality for the millions of DACA recipients living and working in the U.S. If the Supreme Court rules with the Trump Administration, this would leave thousands stranded with few recourses, in the very place they call home.

Brief Overview

On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced that it was terminating DACA, a decision that was been met with instant legal pushback. More than ten cases were filed challenging the administration’s decision. After a number of judges issued preliminary injunctions protecting the program, the administration appealed to the Supreme Court.  Late last year, the Supreme Court granted the administration’s petition, agreeing to hear arguments for three cases on November 12th, 2019. The Supreme Court’s ruling on the DACA cases and an array of other high-profile cases are expected in June 2020.

Speculated Outcomes

Legal advocates, allies, and organizations are bracing for the court’s ruling.

  • The court may conclude it may review the administration’s decision. It may then rule that the termination is unlawful or lawful. A ruling stating that the action was unlawful would be good for DACA recipients because it would mean that the administration should not have terminated DACA under its reasoning at the time. The court may rule that the administration’s decision was lawful. This would be bad for DACA recipients because it would mean the administration could begin rolling back the program. It is also possible that the court could find DACA itself unlawful at this time. This would mean that the government could stop accepting renewals of applications.
  • The Supreme Court may decide not to review the administration’s decision to terminate. A ruling along these lines would mean that the administration could commence rolling back the program; it could also mean that a future administration could reinstate it.

High-profile businesseshigher education institutions, former national security officials, and religious organizations have joined a litany of amicus briefs in support of DACA recipients. The plight of Dreamers clearly resonates with the majority of Americans. As it stands, an overwhelming majority of Americans support a pathway to citizenship. For now, the decision to stay DACA rests in the hands of the Supreme Court.


Breaking the Silence on Violence Against Women

Breaking the Silence on Violence Against Women

Anne Marie Bonds
December 10, 2019

Thanksgiving is a joyous holiday for many people across the nation; an opportunity to see their loved ones and celebrate together under one roof. For Alabamians, Thanksgiving is just the precursor to the most important weekend of the year: the Iron Bowl. Every Saturday after Thanksgiving, Alabama and Auburn’s football teams play on the field, and the entire state shuts down. Most people either celebrate after their team wins, or they go to bed upset that their team lost bragging rights for an entire year.

Unfortunately for Megan Montgomery, this day would be her last. Megan was taken from a sports bar by her ex-husband and abuser, James McIntosh. Hours later, her body was found in the dumpster behind my high school, only 100 yards away from the home where I’d just celebrated the holiday with my family. She’d been shot multiple times.

For so many women across the country, this story sounds all too familiar. In Alabama, it seems this story is on a continual loop. This horrifying reality has brought the increased instances of violence against women to light in the media. Soon this story will be all but forgotten, leaving only the family and friends of Megan to remember her life that was cut short by her abuser.

This case is just another reminder of how our federal policies around domestic violence do not adequately care for and protect the lives of women. Congress has refused to act on the rising rates of violence against women and children due to the ‘untouchable’ issue of gun control. Therefore, women continue to die in senseless acts of violence and at the hands of their abusers, simply because the politics are too controversial to act.

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives took action and passed H.R. 1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. Under this legislation, spouses and family members convicted of domestic abuse are prohibited from purchasing guns, and the legislation would close the “boyfriend loophole” extending the prohibition of buying arms for convicted abusers to former dating partners, not just spouses. The bill will promote and fund trauma-informed training for law enforcement, and expand resources for preventing domestic violence on tribal land. The bill also includes nondiscrimination provisions based on race and sexual orientation, which is impactful because people of color and those in the LGBTQ+ community are much more likely to be abused than their white, straight counterparts.

This necessary and life-saving bill passed the House of Representatives in April of 2019, but the Senate has taken its time considering the bill. Much of the blame falls on Senate Majority Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, who refuses to let any Democrat-sponsored legislation reach the Senate floor. Also, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst has been outspoken against the gun restrictions of the bill, causing it to be stalled even further. Although the Violence Against Women Act has historically been bipartisan, Senate Republicans are blocking the legislation due to politics.

While I’m sure Senators McConnell and Ernst know a lot more about politics than I do, there is one thing I’m sure of: Megan Montgomery would still be alive today if they had passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. Her abuser would not have been able to get his hands on a gun due to his past domestic assault convictions, and Megan could have spent her weekend with her friends and family like the rest of us.

Time is up Senators, enough lives have been lost. It is time to put the lives of domestic violence victims before your partisan politics. Pass the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act now and end the violence that so many experience at the hands of their abusers.