MCC Photo/ SunJu Lee

Javes Benitez (left) and Rutilio Rivas, Mennonite Brethren leaders from Choco, Colombia spoke at a briefing in Washington, D.C. about the harmful effects of aerial fumigations on cacao-growing projects. The Colombian government later announced it was ending the aerial fumigations program. On the right is Charissa Zehr, MCC Washington staff.

Prophetic witness: A look back at 2015

This issue of the Washington Memo provides a look back at our work in 2015, with summaries of our work on all of the topics that our office covers.

In 2015 we sent out more than 40 alerts, generating thousands of emails from people like you to Congress. We also were delighted to have visitors from various locations come to D.C. to meet in person with their congressional representatives.

We would love to connect with you in the coming year!

Download the full version of the Washington Memo year in review (pdf)

Policy updates

New immigration raids: On January 2, the Obama administration began a series of raids to deport Central American families, mostly mothers and children who were victims of persecution and violence in their home countries. These families came to the U.S. seeking safety (asylum). Action alert | Resource page

Paris climate talks: On December 12, 196 countries, including the U.S., came to agreement on a climate pact with the goal of keeping the global average temperature rise to less than 2° C. The Paris Agreement includes commitments from countries to reduce emissions, fund efforts in poor communities to mitigate the effects of climate change and to review these efforts every five years. Read more from Oxfam and WRI.

Syrian and Iraqi refugees: Congress ended up not including a halt to resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the funding bill that passed in December. Instead Congress tightened restrictions on the Visa Waiver Program for individuals who have traveled to Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan. The Visa Waiver Program is a reciprocal program that allows people from certain countries to enter the United States without a visa. But efforts to limit the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees are likely to continue.

What the omnibus means for Latin America: While there were many things to watch for in December's spending bill, it is encouraging to see that human rights conditions for funding to Central America and Colombia were included in the final bill. There were also provisions to fund anti-corruption measures in Central America. A refreshing sign was the acceptance of the end of the aerial spraying program in Colombia and provisions that address a lack of transparency around U.S. funds given to the Colombian military to train other security forces in the Americas.

Upcoming events

January 22 is the deadline for entering our high school essay contest. Students who attend Anabaptist high schools or churches can win up to $1,000 for their essays on current public policy topics including climate change and the militarization of police.

February 3 The Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame will be hosting a symposium on "The Ethical and Policy Implications of U.S. Drone Warfare." If you are interested in lethal drones and are in northern Indiana, it will be a good opportunity to learn more about this issue.

April 15-18 Join us here in Washington, D.C. and take part in one of the most dynamic ecumenical conferences of the year, Ecumenical Advocacy Days. Join hundreds of other Christians who are interested in public policy as we work together to bring about change. This year's theme is "Lift Every Voice! Racism, Class, and Power."

Recent articles

Peace on earth, goodwill to all (Palestine and Israel)

Piecing a patchwork towards peace (Colombia)

Action alerts

Stop raids to deport Central American families


Read the new issue of Intersections, MCC's quarterly journal of theory and practice, which focuses on food assistance.

The New Jim Crow Project offers materials for small groups and Sunday school classes who are interested in learning about mass incarceration and racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system.

We have a new resource page available on human trafficking. You can also sign up to receive action alerts on human trafficking.

Staff updates

Katherine Crosby wrapped up her internship with us in December. Many thanks to Katherine for her excellent work. We wish her all the best.

We were delighted to have two students from Christopher Dock Mennonite High School in Lansdale, Pa. visit our office from January 4-7. Michael Gunden and Katie Gingerich spent time shadowing our staff to learn more about Christian advocacy and our work.

A warm welcome to Rebecca Babirye, who has just started an internship with us for the spring semester, focusing on foreign policy. Rebecca is finishing up her master's degree at Wheaton (Ill.) College and attends Lombard Mennonite Church.