Tammy Alexander is Senior Legislative Associate for Domestic Affairs in the MCC Washington office.
Alicia,* who witnessed her mother's murder and feared retaliation from local gang members, made the dangerous trek from Honduras to the U.S. with her two children, ages three and ten-years-old in August. She was detained. She told U.S. Border Patrol officers of her fear of returning home. "I cried, I said I couldn't return to my country. Sometimes you are so afraid . . ." Two days later, Alicia was deported.
Norma, a single mom, was walking with her kids one night when she was arrested for trespassing on private property. The charges were later found to be baseless but she was deported anyway. Her 16-year-old daughter is now looking for a job to support the family. Norma’s 9-year-old son cries himself to sleep at night.
Many people travel to spend time with family or friends over the holiday season. This year, my family logged more than 1200 miles and was thwarted twice by automobile-related mechanical difficulties and once by winter storm Hercules. However, these inconvenient but relatively minor delays were nothing compared to the obstacles many faced in seeing family this Christmas.
As immigration reform legislation stalls in the House of Representatives, immigrants continue to suffer many injustices. As legislators encourage “patience” and a “step-by-step” approach, the emails detailing indignity after indignity keep pouring into my inbox.
Like millions of others around the world, I sat down in front of my television a few weeks ago to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I was thoroughly impressed by the show – the theatrics, the music, the dancers – and moved by the spirit of fellowship among the athletes.
Late last month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about the constitutionality of the health care reform law, known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On the first of three days of arguments, I stood with other faith-based advocates in front of the court as a public witness of our support for the law.
Basim Elkarra, a Muslim American, tells the story of walking by an Islamic school in Sacramento, California, a couple of days after September 11, 2001 and doing a double-take. What looked like a thousand origami cranes were hanging in the windows. They had been put there by Japanese Americans in the community as a symbol of peace and friendship.
In the summer months, many of us spend time in national parks or other public lands. We do this for the fresh air, the wide open expanses, and the time to escape our busy lives, whether in solitude or in the company of family and friends.
As we begin a new year, there is a tendency to evaluate where we are and where we want to go. Where does our society meet God’s hope for humanity on Earth? Where do we fall short?
September 23 marked the six month anniversary of the signing of the health care reform bills into law. Personally, I didn’t feel much like celebrating.
It probably didn’t help that I was waging my own private health care struggle at the time. When a laboratory assistant sucked three vials of blood out of my arm, I was perfectly calm. I felt considerably more lightheaded, however, when I received the bill and discovered they were also going to suck $500 out of my bank account. Those terms ‘coinsurance’ and ‘deductible’ seem perfectly innocuous until you see them at the bottom of an insurance statement.
Its closure didn’t make the national news. It’s not a place that many from northern states have visited. But the Sabal Palm Sanctuary is a special place indeed.
Last week, President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address, renewing his call for Congress to pass comprehensive health care reform:
By the time I’m finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber.
I had the opportunity to visit eastern Kentucky last week, up in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. While there, I met a man named Elmer, who had been a coal miner most of his life. Elmer had always dreamed of having a fish pond. So, over the course of several months, he did the research, built his pond, and brought in fish. Originally, he thought that his family would eat some of the fish they raised. But, in the end, he found that he couldn’t bear to eat the fish he and his kids had played with.
“Protect your Family while you still have time.” That was the subject line of a message I received in my email inbox two weeks ago. The message talked about one of the health care reform bills being debated in the U.S. Congress, citing several different page numbers and explaining why I should be afraid. Problem is, most of the information was completely wrong. Politifact.com checked out several of the claims , rating most “Barely True,” “False,” or “Pants on Fire!”
On May 18, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce began debating a bill to address the negative effects of climate change. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, H.R. 2454, would establish a “cap and trade” system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions; encourage the use of renewable sources of energy (such as wind, solar, geothermal, and certain forms of hydropower and biofuels); and work to increase energy efficiency in buildings, automobiles, and industrial plants.
Talk of assimilation also quite often invokes the common argument that early European immigrants assimilated quickly while more recent immigrants hold onto their cultural ties. To this point I have to say that, if the first European immigrants to this country had truly assimilated, we’d all be living very much like the indigenous cultures the pilgrims encountered. It is also worth pointing out that, in many early Mennonite immigrant communities, German was the primary language spoken for generations. It was only after the two World Wars that the switch to English was made.
“Why are they building the wall?” That was the question I got from 10-year-old Christopher after he heard me speak to the congregation at Iglesia Menonita Rey de Gloria this past Sunday on the environmental impacts of the U.S-Mexico border fence.
Most people in the U.S. have heard about the construction of hundreds of miles of fences and walls along the U.S.-Mexico border. Few, however, understand that such a barrier will have devastating consequences not only for humans but for wildlife in the border region.
It’s impossible to read the reports coming out of Eastern Congo these days and not cringe. Civilians, caught in the crossfire between warring rebel groups and army troops are suffering unspeakable horrors.
Leave the forest as you found it. That’s what my mom always said. Don’t litter on the sidewalk. Don’t throw your garbage in someone else’s yard. But that’s exactly what we do every day.