Baltimore City Delegation Visits Capitol Hill
On November 6, the St. Ignatius Parish Baltimore delegation (Candra Healy, Vonetta Edwards, Terry Cavanagh, Frank Richardson and IRC Family Mentor Coordinator, Salman Zaman) joined nearly 1,400 Ignatian advocates at Columbus Circle in Washington, D.C. for a public witness gathering with signs, banners, and voices to pray, listen, and recommit to work for justice.
The Justice & Peace Committee at Saint Ignatius is dedicated to awareness and advocacy in our hometown of Baltimore and throughout the world. A large way we advocate for and with others is through legislation, which involves engaging with our government. The format of this advocacy involves Talking Points and ‘Asks.’ When making appeals to Congress or any legislative body, we provide talking points that explicitly communicate our purpose, our needs, and our beliefs, and ASKS that lay out our expectations for our government and the response we need to see.
Immigration Talking Points and ‘ASKS’
As members and representatives of St. Ignatius Church, we stand with Pope Francis, the U.S. Catholic Bishops, the U.S. Jesuit Provincials and 1200 Ignatian Solidarity Network social justice advocates visiting Capitol Hill today, in asking for immigration policy that supports family unity, provides a pathway to citizenship and promotes human and just treatment of immigrants. We also call on Congress to rethink policy that unnecessarily militarized the border and increases the vulnerability of individuals fleeing their countries in search of protection. Additionally we ask that Congress support increased refugee resettlement and continued funding to international programs that can mean the difference between life and death for refugees.
Criminal Justice Talking Points and ‘ASKS’
While events like Charlottesville rightly attract media attention and scrutiny, we know that examples of racial injustice are found in our social systems – economic, educational, environmental, and civic – to name a few. Nowhere is the sin of systemic racism more evident than our broken criminal justice system which disproportionately arrests, kills, locks up, and strips away basic rights of people of color. We stand with our fellow parishioners of St. Ignatius Church in Baltimore City, the Society of Jesus, the Catholic Bishops, and 1200 social justice advocates visiting Capitol Hill today in calling for meaningful reforms to our nation’s criminal justice system that prioritize fairness, rehabilitation, and restoration of individuals rather than the current punitive system that produces disproportionately negative outcomes for communities of color.
An Appeal to Maryland Senators & Congressional Members regarding DACA
On November 6, 2017, a delegation representing the 800+ families of our community visited Maryland Senators and Congress members to discuss DACA and comprehensive immigration reform and racially-just criminal justice legislation. Our parishioners wrote letters in support of our visit, here is what they asked for:
(1) DACA and comprehensive immigration reform. As my elected official, I ask you to support the Dream Act of 2017 and to decrease funding for detention and deportation. Specifically, I want you to back compassionate immigration policy. That means immigration policy providing undocumented young people with access to a path to citizenship and creating safe and humane communities by reducing the detrimental effects of detention and deportation on families. Can I count on you to be a vocal supporter of a path to citizenship for Dreamers? Can I count on you to be in opposition to increased funding for detention and deportation, actions that separate families and communities?
(2) Criminal justice legislation. Racism is an evil which endures in our society. I want you to support policy that ensures law enforcement is carried out in a non-biased, accountable, and community-oriented manner. It is also important to me that you back policy that ensures defendants of color have access to affordable, equitable, and timely judicial proceedings. Our country also needs policy to reduce the barriers that limit the economic and civil rights of people leaving prison. Can I count on you to vocally and publicly support reforms to reflect every individual’s God-given human dignity in our criminal justice system? Will you publicly support and vote for legislation that promotes non-biased, accountable, and community-oriented law enforcement? Will you back policy efforts that ensure defendants of color have access to the same quality defense as their white counterparts? Will you openly work on policy that reduces barriers that limit the economic and civil rights of people leaving prison? As my elected official, it is important to me that you consider the information that will be shared with you from the Saint Ignatius Catholic Church delegation. They will share with you positions that represent the values important to me as a Catholic, as a citizen, and as a voter. These views reflect the values that that guide me in my voting, which is why I elected you to office.