Photo courtesy of Bethany Christian Schools

Rachel Leininger, winner of top prize in annual essay contest.

Essay contest winners announced

Rachel Leininger, a senior at Bethany Christian High School in Goshen, Indiana, has won the $750 top prize in our annual essay contest. Leininger’s essay, “Communication in Place of Isolation,” calls for the U.S. government to engage with the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK/North Korea). Read excerpts from her essay.

The second-place prize of $500 went to Isabelle Moore, also a senior at Bethany Christian High School, with Brianne Moore, a senior at The Mount Academy, part of Mount Bruderhof Community in Esopus, New York, winning third prize.

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all of the contestants who entered. Read more.

Policy updates

Asylum seekers: The Trump administration plans to cut aid to three Central American countries and is reportedly considering closing some U.S.-Mexico border crossings. Implementation of the “Remain in Mexico” plan is not going smoothly, with scheduling snafus and immigrants with court dates being denied entry through the border. More families coming across the border seeking asylum will be released rather than put into detention, according to the Wall Street Journal. This is reportedly because ICE is running out of detention space for families. 

Foreign assistance: On March 11, President Trump released his Fiscal Year 2020 budget request, including a drastic 24 percent cut to international development, humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding programs. The president's budget would increase military spending by 5 percent to $750 billion. Take action.

Immigration: The House and Senate both introduced legislation to provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status holders. The Department of Defense approved the transfer of $1 billion from military personnel accounts to fund construction of 57 miles of border walls. March immigration update.

Recent articles

Contest winner calls for engagement with North Korea

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The Senate’s first bill (Middle East)

Action alerts

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March MCC Immigration update (Spanish)


April 5-8: Last call to register for Ecumenical Advocacy Days! There will be great speakers, workshops and a gathering for Anabaptists on Saturday evening. We hope to see you there.

Staff updates

On March 8, Charissa Zehr participated in the “MCC and Me” event at Grantham (Pa.) Church, hosted by MCC East Coast for Messiah College students.

Tammy Alexander and Megan Eaton hosted the Board of Reference for the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions on March 8-9. Board members visited more than 20 congressional offices to discuss issues related to climate change.

On March 13-14, Charissa Zehr and Jessica Carey helped to host the Korea Peace Network annual conference and lobby day events. Participants advocated for a peace agreement between the U.S. and North Korea.

On March 24, Charles Kwuelum spoke at Los Angeles Faith Chapel in California.

Charles Kwuelum hosted Madame Ibanda Mawangu Francisca, an MCC partner from DR Congo, for meetings with congressional offices and the State Department on March 26-28.