June 2018: What We’re Thinking About This Week

As are you, we are in a space somewhere between exhaustion and grave concern. We are all stressed in the shadow of actions harming children separated from their parents at the border, an anti-labor union ruling, the Supreme Court affirming the President’s ban of Muslims, the striping of protections for women, and the announcement of Justice Kennedy’s retirement making way for another opening on the Court for the President to fill. As the dust settles, however, we as a coalition of concerned people must continue on the journey we are on … to raise our voices against what is wrong around us. That is why we started our Roundtable and why we must continue to forge ahead.

This week the Supreme Court upheld the Muslim ban proposed by the President and his Administration. By a 5-4 vote, the majority held that the President was within his authority to enact a travel ban, which severely restricts the ability of certain foreign nationals and refugees to enter the U.S. It is difficult to imagine how hurtful this decision is for the Muslim community. Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg delivered scathing dissents both opining that reasonable observers could conclude that this ban was motivated by anti-Muslim animus. We are proud that of the four Justices that opposed the President’s ban, three are Jewish. We join those who fear that this decision and public policy will cause pain for those seeking asylum and refuge and for families living here who want to reunite with their relatives abroad, and that the green light the Supreme Court has given may lead to further restrictive policies. We encourage you to read statements made by HIAS’ (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) and by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs on the Supreme Court decision.

The Tennessee Justice Center is sponsoring a program about Medicaid Expansion on Thursday, June 28, 2018, 6:30 p.m. at the First Amendment Center. Tickets are available through this link.

There is going to be a local march to “End Family Detention” this Saturday, June 30, 2018 from 10:00 – noon. Participants will be gathering at The Dragon Park (aka Fannie Mae Dees Park – 2400 Blakemore) and then will walk to Belmont University where a program will be held. For more details please click here. This march is being sponsored by the Women’s March Tennessee – Power Together. We understand that this event falls on Shabbat and that some members of our Roundtable will not feel comfortable participating … but for some among us, participation, even on Shabbat, is an expression of deeply held Jewish values.

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), who we often link with, has announced a new initiative they will be kicking off in August called TIRRC VOTES. The purpose of this initiative is to mobilize and engage immigrants, refugees, and their friends and allies in the upcoming political election cycle. This new effort will counter the rising tide of nationalism and hate sweeping our state and country by investing in strategies that will build political power and influence, support equitable and inclusive public policy, defeat anti-immigrant candidates, elect champions of immigrant families and progressive policies. To find out more about this effort or to join it go to https://www.tirrcvotes.org/.

The President has nominated Ronald Mortensen for the position of Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), which oversees refugee resettlement in the US and acts as our top diplomat on issues of migration worldwide. Mortensen is a former fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a known hate group. Tennessee Senator Bob Corker is Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which will oversee Mortensen’s nomination. Please take a minute or two to contact Sen. Corker to ask that he not push forward this nomination. If a name different than yours pops up when you link in, simply change it to your name and email.

Finally, the Senate is expected to vote on part of the Farm Bill this week. Unlike the corresponding House Bill, the Senate bill protects SNAP benefit levels and eligibility, and keeps food on the table of struggling low-income families. Please consider calling Senator Alexander and Corker today to urge them to vote to protect and strengthen SNAP by voting “yes” on the Senate Agriculture Committee version of the Farm Bill and to vote “no” on all harmful amendments that would cut or weaken SNAP.

Sen. Lamar Alexander
Washington Office at (202) 224-4944
Nashville Office at (615) 736-5129

Sen. Bob Corker
Washington Office at (202) 224-3344
Nashville Office at (615) 279-8125

There is so much out there for us to think about and respond to. Hope these suggestions resonate. Wishing you the best July!!!!!!!!!