Oy vey!!! It seems like most mornings we wake these days we are greeted by something else from which to be aghast. The menu of what we are concerned about seems to expand daily as we are greeted by policy decisions that upset us. This leaves us feeling a need to act but frustrated that our options to do so seem limited.
However, there is one tool we can and should always fall back on … that being the use of our voice. At our last NJSJR Steering Committee we began looking at our achievements over the past two years, analyzing strategies to propel us forward and began prioritizing which concerns we want to attend to among so many. We ended up circling around five issues, among so many to address, to concentrate on during the months ahead and are calling on our membership to consider doing the same.
Resolutions of these concerns lie largely in the hands of our Congress, particularly the U.S. Senate and our responsibility to let our policy makers know how we feel. To this end we encourage you to raise your voice on one or more of the following issues … through telephone calls to our Senate offices, hand-written notes (they seem to have the greatest impact), and phone calls during this month and next. Making appointments to share your concerns with local staff is also impactful. All contacts are tallied by category … whichever you choose will be helpful.
Sen. Lamar Alexander https://www.alexander.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email
United States Senate Dirksen Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4944
3322 West End Avenue, #120
Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: (615) 736-5129
Sen. Bob Corker
United States Senate
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
3322 West End Ave., Suite 610
Nashville, TN 37203
The following issues, among so many, are the issues the Steering Committee recommends focusing on at this time include the following:
The budget proposed by the Administration will add billions to defense while slashing programs that help working families and the poor. It includes large tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations at the expense of those who need assistance. The proposed budget includes dramatic cuts in affordable housing, aid for college students, slashes Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplementary Security Income, cuts the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP), Planned Parenthood, the Environmental Protection Agency, and countless other reductions. We recommend calling on our Senators to guard against adopting a budget that will reduce the safety net so many Americans rely on.
The Congressional Budget Office’s independent review of the American Health Care Act adopted by the House concluded that the changes proposed in the bill would lead to 24 million fewer people having health insurance, remove existing protections for people with pre-existing conditions, slash hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicaid, and increase the cost of health insurance for seniors, people with disabilities, and vast numbers of Americans. The bill is now in the hands of the Senate. Senator Alexander, who chairs the Senate Health Committee, will carry considerable weight in crafting the Senate’s response to the House bill. We need to let both of our Senators know that we do not want them to gut current health care, just improve those pieces that warrant strengthening.
The proposed budget includes a huge bump (nearly $5B) for immigration enforcement. It is clear that, despite the positive impacts of immigrants on our economy and society, the tenor of national immigration policy is moving to be far more restrictionist through increased immigration enforcement, reduced refugee resettlement, and fast-paced detention and deportation practices. We urge opposition against this more restrictive movement.
Criminal Justice and Civil Rights
At a time when Americans are increasingly becoming concerned about a broken criminal justice system that unequally treats people in poverty and people of color, Attorney General Sessions is moving to increasing penalties and enforcement, rather than a path to restorative justice and needed fairness. Civil Rights departments throughout government are being downgraded which will limit Federal emphasis on civil rights enforcement.
With the announced withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord … a landmark agreement signed by 195 countries to mitigate climate change … our country has taken a dramatic step backwards. Congressman Cooper stood strong in his critical response to this decision. We need to do so as well by letting both Senators Corker and Alexander know that we consider leaving the coalition of nations to be a poor decision … and strongly support legislatures, governors, and mayors who recognize that, for both environmental and economic reasons, we must continue to hold firm in support of aggressive actions aimed at gaining control of our deteriorating environment.
One of the tools we have at our disposal is the power of the pen. Writing letters and publishing op-eds can be a powerful way to be heard and we encourage our membership to lift their pens.
An example of this is this powerful piece written for The Observer by one of our Roundtable members Heidi Addlestone about an issue she is passionate about. We are sharing her piece with you just as an example of the power of the pen and applaud Heidi for publicly expressing herself.
On the local front … we wanted to call your attention to two ordinances being placed before our City Council for adoption. Bills filed by Council members Bob Mendes and Colby Sledge, with the support of Vice-Mayor Briley and co-signed by 14 Council members, will come up for the first of three readings on Tuesday, June 6. These ordinances were developed in conjunction with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC). One ordinance prohibits the use of Metro resources, facilities, or money to carry out federal immigration enforcement unless required by judicial warrant. The other bars our Sheriff’s Office from honoring voluntary requests from Immigration Customs Enforcement to hold inmates for longer than the law would otherwise allow unless presented with a warrant.
The Roundtable stands firmly in support of both ordinances and in the weeks ahead may call on you to raise you voice in doing the same. TIRRC is organizing a community forum to help educate the public on both of these proposed ordinances and to gather communal support for them. This forum will take place on June 12 at 6:30pm at Glendale Baptist Church. For more information on this forum or these two proposed ordinances contact TIRRC Community Relations Manager Leah Hashinger at Leah@tnimmigrant.org. If you would like to register your voice with our City Council in support of these bills, here’s a link to do so …
That’s it for this month. Please share this update with others you know and encourage them to join us at: www.JSJRnashville.org.