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!!!!!!!!!

NJSJR May Newsletter

The Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable is monitoring a number of important local and national issues that we believe deserve our attention and, when timely, the raising of our voice. Events we recommend Roundtable members attending, and immediate actions we recommend taking, include the following:

  • After intense debate, the Tennessee General Assembly passed HB 2315, one of the country’s most extreme anti-immigrant bills. According to the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), while state and federal laws already require local governments and law enforcement agencies to comply with federal immigration law, HB 2315 goes much further. It is a sweeping measure designed to coerce localities to go above and beyond the law, turning every request from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain someone into an unconditional directive and prohibiting localities from ensuring there is probable cause or a judicial warrant before denying a person his or her freedom. The bill also requires all law enforcement officers, even campus police, to inquire about immigration and citizenship status in even the most routine interactions. TIRRC is urging us to immediately contact the Governor and ask him to veto this bill because it will make Tennessee a more dangerous place for immigrant families to live and will only serve to give notice that Tennessee is not a welcoming state. Read TIRRC’s press release. Please consider calling Governor Haslam at the governor’s office (615-741-2001) to ask him to veto HB 2315 and/or email the Governor.
  • West End Synagogue’s Social Action Committee is hosting a free, certainly timely, public forum, The Opioid Crisis that will address key questions (What are opioids? How serious is the crisis? How did we get here? What can we do?). The event will take place at West End Synagogue (3810 West End Avenue) on May 10 at 7:00pm. Expert panelists speaking at the event will include Dr. Michael Baron, Medical Director of the Tennessee Medical Foundation, Mary Linden Salter, Executive Director of the TN Assoc. of Alcohol, Drugs and Other Addiction Services, and Kappu Deshpande, Assistant Fire Chief, Metro Fire Department. The event is free and open to the public. Dessert reception will follow.
  • The League of Women Voters of Nashville is hosting a timely presentation entitled Gun Violence From An Academic and Activist Perspective. The guest expert who will be speaking is Laurie Woods -Vanderbilt Lecturer in Sociology and a representative from Tennessee Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. She will speak on gun violence and how it impacts our community. No reservations are needed. The program is open to the public and will be offered twice … Monday, May 6 from 11:30am – 1:00pm at Good Will Lifsey Career Solutions Center (937 Herman St.) and Wednesday, May 9 from 6:00pm – 7:00pm at the Green Hills Library Community Room (3701 Benham Ave.).
  • According to legislation released this week, the Trump Administration confirmed it is seeking to impose work requirements, rent increases, and other burdens on millions of low-income families who receive Federal housing assistance through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The proposal would leave even more low-income people – including seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, children, and other vulnerable populations – without stable homes, making it harder for them to climb the economic ladder to achieve financial security and live with dignity. Cutting housing benefits will not create jobs that pay decent wages or other opportunities needed to lift people out of poverty. Instead, cuts would only make it harder for low-income people. Instead, Congress and the Administration should expand investments in affordable rental homes, implementing bipartisan legislation passed in 2016 to help incentivize earnings, and scaling up solutions that work. We are concerned about the cuts proposed and will be watching as the budget moves through Congress.
  • Of particular and immediate concern, the House version of the Farm Bill includes harmful cuts and changes to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). This legislation could be brought to the House floor as early as the week of May 7. SNAP is one of our most successful anti-poverty/anti-hunger programs. It provides critically needed support to nearly 8 million adults and 4 million children. What is being proposed will limit the assistance we are now giving and place untenable obstacles in front of people, including parents raising children, people with disabilities, older adults, and people who are working but struggling to get enough hours or get by on low wages. Food banks and other remaining assistance programs will never be able to make up for the loss families will experience. We need to make sure our legislators know that we support keeping SNAP strong. You can email or call to support SNAP to members of our Congressional delegation.
  • Governor Haslam has continued to advocate for the extension of federally funded health coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income Tennesseans. While he has not had success in convincing our State Legislature to support him, you should contact the Governor to thank him for his efforts and to encourage him to continue on his quest to expand healthcare to people in need.
  • Our Roundtable supports the work of other advocacy groups that address critical social needs. We encourage out membership to consider signing on to two of them … Welcome Home! The Movement for Affordable Housing and the Tennessee Justice Center. Welcome Home! is a coalition of Nashvillians advocating for a comprehensive, inclusive, and adequately funded plan to address the urgent need for affordable housing. The Tennessee Justice Center works strenuously to protect and improve healthcare policies and programs.
  • On the evening of May 23 at the Gordon JCC, The Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation will be hosting a conversation with representatives from the Southern Poverty Law Center. In addition to learning about the formation and current work of SPLC we will have timely conversation on racism in America and particularly in Tennessee. Among many other things, the SPLC monitors hate groups and other extremists through out the U.S. and expose their activities to law enforcement agencies, the media, and the public. We will share more information about this event as we learn it; just wanted to get it on your calendars.
  • Mayor Briley has embarked on a listening tour to hear, face-to-face, concerns of Nashvillians. He has had two such listening events so far with more scheduled. These are great opportunities to share your concerns and ideas with the Mayor as well as hear his responses to questions you may have. The remaining sessions will be at …  Coleman Park Community Center (Thursday, May 10 at 6:30pm), Whites Creek High School (Saturday, May 12 at 10:00am), and John Overton High School (Monday, May 14 at 6:30 pm).

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A Joint Statement in Rejection of Bigotry and Hatred


On October 28 two communities near to Nashville, our neighbors in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, will be the sites of rallies planned by several white supremacist hate groups. These groups promote a racist, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant agenda. Their sole purpose is to incite hatred targeted at African Americans, Jews, immigrants, refugees and other minority faith, racial and ethnic groups.

The Jewish Federation and its Community Relations Committee along with Nashville’s local congregations and other local Jewish organizations condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the despicable messages and activities of these hate-filled groups which seek to undermine the strength, vitality and cohesiveness of our diverse communities in Middle Tennessee.

We call upon all people of good will to reject the pernicious messages of white supremacy, white nationalism, anti-Semitism and other forms of religious, racial and ethnic bigotry that will be on open and full display in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro on October 28. While their utterances are protected free speech it still remains our right and obligation to condemn and reject such speech in the strongest manner possible. At the same time, we call for restraint from potential counter protestors who, in their passion to reject the messages of hate speech, could find themselves in violent confrontation that only serves the purposes of the hate groups and provides them with the attention they seek but do not deserve.

Therefore, we reach out and appeal to our valued partners in other ethnic and religious communities to join us in forcefully condemning the planned events of the white supremacist hate groups in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro. We urge individuals, families and friends to join together in prayer and fellowship in churches, synagogues and mosques to communicate our common message—that together we will combat all forms of bigotry and hatred. We stand united in rejecting the assault of hate that stains our communities. By showing respect for all and ensuring our ability to continue to live in peace with the dignity that we are all entitled to enjoy we will not allow purveyors of hatred to disrupt the sacred bonds of community harmony.

Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee
Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation
Anti-Defamation League
Congregation Beit Tefilah Chabad
Congregation Micah
Congregation Sherith Israel
The Temple-Congregation Ohabai Sholom
West End Synagogue
Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable
National Council of Jewish Women, Nashville Section
Nashville Chapter of Hadassah
Akiva School
Gordon Jewish Community Center
Jewish Family Service
Vanderbilt Chabad
Vanderbilt Hillel

NJSJR Thanksgiving Newsletter

As we approach another Thanksgiving… with the traditional sitting around the table reflecting on all of which we are grateful for having, we thought it timely to share a few Thanksgiving thoughts.

1. During the Holiday Season, beginning this Thanksgiving and extending into the new year, the National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD) is inviting people from all over the country to take part in its Revive Civility Initiative by “Setting the Table for Civility.” NICD and more than 80 national and local partner organizations, including the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, urge you to make a special effort to pause and reflect this holiday season on the need to heal the divisions in our country and take action by asking each other the three questions highlighted below:

(More tools for group conversations can be found at http://www.revivecivility.org/)

2. Thank you to all who responded to our call for action to reach out to our two Senators on tax reform. With the House bill passed, and the Senate about to pass one of its own before reconciliation of both begins, your shout outs to Senators Corker and Alexander were timely given the threats tax reform in their current iterations pose to the critical safety net programs in place that help millions. If you haven’t made your calls (see our last newsletter) please consider doing so. Contact info for our Senators follows at the end of this newsletter.

3. While on the conversation about reaching out to elected officials, please consider making one more call… to our Senators again to ask them to please sign on to the Dream Act of 2017… a bipartisan legislation that would allow around 1.5 million U.S.-raised immigrant youth to earn lawful permanent residence and start on a path to American Citizens upon meeting a set of criteria. The Administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has placed 800,000 Dreamers at risk of deportation. The Dream Act of 2017 would rectify this decision. Various versions of the Dream Act have been introduced at least ten times. They have passed either the House or Senate, but not both in the same Congressional session. The current version, while certainly not perfect, improves upon previous bills and is prudent legislation that creates a needed pathway. It is critical that Congress stand up for these youth and take swift action to replace fear and uncertainty with permanent protection!! It needs to be passed as a stand-alone bill. Contact info for our Senators follows at the end of this newsletter.

Please accept our wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. In the weeks after we will be sharing more detailed information about our plans to engage members of our Roundtable more directly in social action.

— Avi Poster, Irwin Venick, and The Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Steering Committee

Sen. Lamar Alexander
Washington Office at (202) 224-4944
Nashville Office at (615) 736-5129
Also email David Cleary, his Chief of Staff, at David_Cleary@alexander.senate.gov

Sen. Bob Corker
Washington Office at (202) 224-3344
Nashville Office at (615) 279-8125
Also email his Todd Womack, his Chief of Staff, at Todd_Womack@corker.senate.gov

Immediate Call to Action on Proposed Tax Reform Bill

There are a number of important issues in front of Congress that deserve our attention that the Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable is carefully monitoring. The issue in front of Congress this week is tax reform, which is why we are sending out this action bulletin. Coming up swiftly behind tax reform are important decisions on DACA and the Federal budget.

We are asking that you join our Roundtable in raising your voice against the proposed tax bill. NJSJR stands in strong alliance with organizations with which we align including, but not limited to, JCPA, The Tennessee Justice Center, The Center for American Progress, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Coalition on Human Needs, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, A VOICE for the Reduction of Poverty in Nashville, Americans for Tax Fairness, and countless others. We rise against this proposed legislation because it would provide billions of tax breaks to wealthy individuals and corporations by cutting programs that help reduce poverty and make lives easier for many among us.

Congressman Cooper has weighed in on tax reform with reason. Unfortunately, to varying degrees, Senators Corker and Alexander have indicated support. As both are considered to be persuadable targets … especially Senator Corker … local and national advocacy partners have reached out to us urging us to connect with both.

Please take a few minutes to email and call both Senator Corker and Senator Alexander. Urge them NOT TO VOTE for the current iteration of tax reform as it serves no national purpose, will not create jobs as some profess it will, and will not provide relief across the middle class. The proposed tax bill will instead provide tax breaks for the wealthiest individuals and corporations based on the promise of trickle-down economics. Some low/middle-income individuals and families will actually pay more – especially people with high medical expenses or student loan debt, people who adopt children, and immigrant families. Remind our Senators that if this bill becomes law, low- and middle-income people will suffer for years to come. The proposed tax bill will add trillions to our deficit that will lead to future cuts in key federal programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, education, SNAP, housing, job training, and more.

In advance, thank you again for raising your voice in supporting issues of critical importance such as this one.

The Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Steering Committee

Sen. Lamar Alexander
Washington Office at (202) 224-4944
Nashville Office at (615) 736-5129
Also email David Cleary, his Chief of Staff, at

Sen. Bob Corker
Washington Office at (202) 224-3344
Nashville Office at (615) 279-8125
Also email Todd Womack, his Chief of Staff, at

NJSJR September Newsletter

Although a couple of weeks away, our Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable would like to be one of the first to wish you L’Shana Tovah and G’mar Hatimah Tovah.

As we move rapidly approach this year’s Jewish High Holidays (Yamin Niraim), we are reminded that the High Holiday season is not only a time for us to engage in personal reflection about the past year but to also envision the year yet to be. It serves as an opportune time to reaffirm the Jewish tradition’s longstanding commitment to tikkun olam (the repair of the world)… something we take seriously as citizen stewards of the world G-d created on our behalf. Given the spate of recent social dilemmas and crises directly affecting our country, the High Holidays are the perfect time for us to ask hard questions of ourselves regarding the intersection of the principles of social justice and our consciousness as Jews.

We too are reflecting on the year ahead… during which we are pledged to continue and expand on the work we began as a social justice organization a little more than a year ago. In addition to continuing our current course of action aimed at educating ourselves and our membership about important issues of the day and raising our collective voices at opportune times, following the upcoming High Holidays we plan to offer those among us so interested to join advocacy teams that will study and advocate for some of our major concerns … criminal justice, poverty and affordable housing, issues related to immigrants and refugees, and health care reform. When the holidays are over we will email you to ask if you might want to join one of these action committees and will set a date for them to meet, likely on the same night following our regularly scheduled monthly Steering Committee meeting. Please be thinking about these issues and whether or not you want to step a bit deeper into the world of advocacy.

In the meantime, actions taken this week have alarmed us such that we are calling our membership to immediate action. The President’s decision to rescind the continuation of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a program that allowed more than 800,000 younger undocumented immigrants to continue to live here without fear of deportation (more than 8,000 of whom reside in Tennessee), is certainly troublesome to all of us. The Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable joins countless other organized voices in our community in condemnation of this decision and call on Congress to protect the heart and soul of our country by passing legislation that will protect those endangered by this action.

Now is the time for each of us to contact our Senators to call on them to speak up and take action of behalf of Dreamers (undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children); to ask them to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find a legislative solution that respects the humanity, contributions and promise of these young Americans. Please call and email them, and then call and email them again.

Here’s a sample message: I am outraged that the President has terminated the successful DACA program, upending the lives of more than 8,300 young Tennesseans and 800,000 who reside in our country. This program has been a lifeline for these young Americans, providing a sense of security and a chance to dream and invest in their future. The President has disrupted their lives and futures, and the country has gained nothing. Congress must act now… and we hope you will lead the way by renouncing the President’s decision and publicly committing to support and work towards the swift passage of legislation that will restore protections for Dreamers who call our state and country home.

  • Please also call U.S. Representative Jim Cooper to thank him for standing up for Dreamers. He can be reached at 202-225-4311. His Chief of Staff, Lisa Quigley, can be reached at Lisa.Quigley@mail.house.gov.

Some additional bits and pieces…

  • Our community lost one of its giants with the passing of Rev. Bill Barnes. Bill was a longtime affordable housing and civil rights advocate and crusader for the poor. He was the voice for the voiceless and, as Mayor Barry described, the conscience of our city. He leaves behind a legacy of advocating for those with the least among us that we, and others, concerned about social justice are committed to continue in his name.
  • An important documentary, BIRTHRIGHT: A War Story, will be premiered at the Belcourt Theater on Wednesday, September 13 at 7:00 pm. It centers on the accelerating success of the crusade to control and criminalize women’s health and the resulting collateral damage that is rapidly turning into a public health crisis. This film has received rave reviews from Newsweek, the New York Times, LA Times, and many other news outlets. Producer/Director/Writer Civia Tamarkin will conduct a q and a with other Nashville advocates following the screening. Tickets can be purchased here.
  • NOAH and other organizations are continuing their efforts to enact an Ordinance in the Metropolitan Council to establish a Community Oversight Board. There will be a presentation by Kyle Mothershead and Sekou Franklin of the COB Collaboration at the Green Hills Library on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.
  • With the Senate’s inability to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee is conducting hearings on reforms that will support the private health care marketplace. The Haslam Administration is supporting these efforts.

In advance, thank you for taking these suggested action steps. It is important that you do. Know that we are looking forward to working with you after the Jewish New Year.

With hope for a better year ahead,
Avi Poster, Irwin Venick, and the Nashville Jewish Social Justice Roundtable

Immediate Call to Action on Proposed Senate Healthcare Bill

As you well know, the Senate Healthcare Bill (BCRA) has been released … and the picture it paints is not looking pretty.

While we know many of you have likely received other calls for action we thought it necessary to distribute one of our own. Unless the Senate bill is voted down or postponed, health care will get far more expensive for most people using the marketplaces, people with pre-existing conditions will once again find coverage unaffordable, Medicaid will be slashed by more than $800 billion over the next 10 years, and within three years Medicaid expansion (which has covered 11 million more people) will lose its special funding. Actually what has been released is not a healthcare bill … but a deep healthcare reduction. People who earn below that national mean, particularly children in poverty (half the children in Tennessee are on TennCare), and people with disabilities will be particularly hurt. Costs for insurance will significantly rise for those earning less than $60,000 while taxes will be significantly reduced for those earning more than $200,000. Nine rural hospitals in Tennessee have already been closed (second most to Texas) with another 61 now in danger of closure. Just today the Congressional Budget Office released a report that projects that if adopted the Senate Bill will lead to 22 million fewer people being insured.

As there may be a floor vote on this bill as soon as Thursday of this week it is important that we each jump to action and speak up loudly to let our Senators know that, for a horde of moral and economic reasons, this picture is not one we can accept. Your phone calls and emails could make an important difference. Whether this is your first time calling or you have called many times before, please call again now … and then call every day until the bill hits the Senate floor.

While calls are the most effective … please consider emailing as well, placing in the subject line “Please vote NO for the BCRA.” Frame your phone calls and emails in anyway reflective of how you feel … but please call and email. Begin your calls and place in the subject line of your emails a simple request: “Please vote NO for the BCRA.” A sample message of explanation could be as simple as: “I’m a constituent and I want Senator __ to reject the proposed Senate health care repeal bill. It will take health coverage away from millions of people, drastically cut Medicaid, hurt children and their families, seniors, and people with disabilities while it shifts billions into tax cuts for the wealthy. Please vote NO.”

In advance, thank you for jumping into action. The contact information for our Senators follows.

– The NJSJR Steering Committee

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

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

NJSJR June Newsletter

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

Washington Office
United States Senate Dirksen Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4944

Nashville Office
3322 West End Avenue, #120
Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: (615) 736-5129

Sen. Bob Corker

Washington Office
United States Senate
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-3344

Nashville Office
3322 West End Ave., Suite 610
Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: 615-279-8125

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.

Health Care
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.

Climate Change
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.