Following the attacks in Paris, the rhetoric in the U.S. has shifted dramatically from a focus on the humanitarian crisis in Syria to portraying Syrian refugees as a security threat.
On November 19, the House passed “The American Security against Foreign Enemies Act,” that would essentially halt the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. This week the Senate will likely take up similar legislation, as part of the federal spending bill that must pass before Congress adjourns.
As Christians and as a nation, we must find ways to support the people of Syria and Iraq, rather than demonizing them. It is critical that public officials hear from their constituents now as decisions are being made that will drastically impact the lives of Syrian and Iraqi refugees and could impact the future of refugee resettlement more broadly.
Photo: Syrian refugee children in Jordan who have received assistance, including school kits, from MCC. Names withheld for security reasons. Credit: Doug Hostetter.
Criminal justice reform: On November 18 the Sentencing Reform Act passed out of the House Judiciary Committee. This bill is similar to the first part of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act in the Senate. The bill would reduce certain sentences, particularly for drug offenses, to a certain extent if passed.
Paris climate talks: From November 30 through December 11, delegates from 195 countries are meeting outside Paris and, for the first time in more than 20 years, will attempt to create a legally binding agreement to address climate change. Read more about the talks, what is at stake, and what the U.S. has pledged.
January 22 is the deadline for entering our high school essay contest. All students at Mennonite high schools or who are members of a Mennonite, Brethren in Christ or other Anabaptist congregation are eligible to win up to $1,000.
April 15-18 Join us here in Washington, D.C. for Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2016. This year's theme is "Lift Every Voice! Racism, Class, and Power."
A courageous welcome (Syrian refugees)
The New Jim Crow Project: Are you interested in learning more about why the U.S. has more people in prison than any country in the world? We have a new resource for you that is designed for your Sunday school class or small group. Learn about mass incarceration, racial disparities, criminal justice reform and more.
Lakka Benti finished her internship in our office on November 24. We are so thankful for Lakka’s time with us and wish her all the best as she completes her studies in international relations at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul (Minn.).
On November 15, Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach spoke about the Syria crisis at Scottdale (Pa.) Mennonite Church.
On November 20, members of Circle of Hope Brethren in Christ Church came to Washington to speak in support of criminal justice reform and the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act.
On December 3, our office participated in the Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition's advocacy day on sentencing reform. Juan Pablo Herrera from the DOOR Network in Chicago, and Rev. Vern Rempel from Beloved Community Mennonite Church in Denver came to Washington to join us.
On December 7, pastors and members of several Brethren in Christ churches in Pennsylvania (Grantham, Harrisburg and Lancaster) came to Washington to raise awareness of gun violence in their communities.