Hold Sudanese Human
Rights Violators Accountable!
Ask the State Department to Deny Entry to Dr. Nafie Ali Nafie
In 1989, Farouk Mohammed Ibrahim, a former science professor at the University of Khartoum, was arrested for his outspoken criticism of the Sudanese government. For twelve days, he was held in one of Sudan’s notorious “ghost houses,” where he was interrogated and tortured. “I was tortured, beaten and flogged in his presence,” Ibrahim told LA Times reporter Edmund Sanders (http://articles.latimes.com/2008/oct/26/world/fg-sudan26) in 2008. “He was administering the whole thing. He did it all in such a cool manner, as if he were sipping a coffee.”
The “bad cop” who oversaw the torture of Ibrahim and countless other dissidents in his six years as head of Sudan’s intelligence and security apparatus, was Nafie Ali Nafie. Today, Nafie is the top advisor to Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir and Vice President of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party. He was identified by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court as one of a handful of senior Sudanese officials responsible for recruiting members of the Janjaweed militia and using them to exterminate opponents in Darfur. And now, he’s planning to visit the United States … unless we speak out.
Go to http://capwiz.com/pcusa/issues/alert/?alertid=62672716 to send a message today!
Nafie is to be part of a high-level Sudanese delegation invited to Washington for talks. But if US immigration lets him into the country, it will do so in spite of a 2011 Presidential Proclamation that prohibits the admission of “any alien who … participated in … war crimes, crimes against humanity or other serious violations of human rights.” There is no need for this. If the US government feels that it is important to talk with Nafie, there would be plenty of opportunities to do so outside the United States without having to turn a blind eye to Nafie’s human rights record or appearing to give legitimacy to his actions.
What you can do:
Please write to Secretary of State John Kerry today to ask the State Department to uphold the President’s promise and to deny entry to perpetrators of gross human rights violations such as Nafie Ali Nafie. You may wish to adapt the suggested text below. You can also find more information on Nafie’s record and the significance of his visit in a recent article in the Atlantic magazine (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/05/the-price-of-inviting-nafie-ali-nafie-to-washington/275584/).
Go to http://capwiz.com/pcusa/issues/alert/?alertid=62672716 to send a message today!
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
A Travesty of American Governance:
Congress restores cuts to the FAA but leaves the poor and hungry out in the cold
Director for Public Witness, PC(USA)
At the end of last month, the House and Senate passed a shameful bill before leaving for their in-district work period – the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 (S 853/HR 1765). Rather than replacing the sequester (automatic, across-the-board, spending cuts) with a comprehensive and balanced approach to deficit reduction, they passed a sequester fix only for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This fix is designed to mitigate long delays for airline passengers, including Members of Congress, while ignoring the true hardship that is being caused by these indiscriminate and irresponsible cuts. Rather than standing up for the most vulnerable in our society, they sided with the privileged, whose inconvenience while traveling was more important than hunger among families who will not have enough food on the table this month.
These spending cuts, known inside the DC Beltway as “the sequester,” not only affect the airline industry, but most government programs. From scientific and medical research, to public transit projects, to international humanitarian development funds, to the social safety net that helps support the lowest income earners in the country. Programs like Head Start, housing assistance, the WIC Nutrition program, Meals on Wheels, among many others, have been left with desperate choices of how to cut their budgets for the remainder of the year. For example:
- Head Start, an early-childhood education program proven to improve long-term school outcomes for low-income children, is having to cancel summer programs or end regular school year programs weeks early (if not drop children altogether). In total, 70,000 children are expected to be denied Head Start.
- Seniors are losing home-delivered meals, and 140,000 fewer households will receive vouchers to help them afford decent housing.
- Jobless workers are losing their unemployment benefits. Roughly 800,000 workers have seen their benefits cut by approximately 10%. When all of the states implement these cuts, this will affect about 3.8 million unemployed workers. 
The Sequester was designed to be awful. It is a blunt tool whose indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts were supposed to be considered so unthinkable, that Members of Congress would be forced to come up with a more compassionate solution to deficit reduction. But Congress failed to act and we are now reaping the consequences of their failure.
But a piecemeal approach to fixing the sequester is not the answer. Certainly the Air Traffic Controllers who were being forced to take furloughs are benefiting from this congressional action, but at its root, passage of this bill is a selfish move designed to benefit the privileged and remove a politically embarrassing news story from the 24-hour news cycle. While jets are being filled with fuel, millions of Americans run on empty stomachs. While business people no longer have to wait in long lines for their flights, the poor are lining up for housing assistance in the longest lines ever. The cozy first-class flight from DC to Los Angeles costs approximately the same as one month's salary for a full-time worker making minimum wage.
Once again, Congress has missed the mark on what is truly important. We need to replace the sequester, but not in a piecemeal fashion where the wealthiest beneficiaries and strongest special interests line up to get their bite at the apple first. Rather, we need a comprehensive replacement to the sequester that cuts judiciously where we can afford to cut spending (for example, the pentagon budget), while also bringing in new revenue – tax dollars from those who can most afford to pay for the good of all, so that we can meet our shared priorities and make sure that fewer people are hungry, more children have access to education, and more people find a desperately needed job. This is where the priorities of Congress should have been at the end of April, and should still be today, not with annoyed travelers whose inconvenience will leave them annoyed, but not hungry, thirsty, or homeless.
It is time to stand up and tell Congress that basic necessities such as food, shelter, and education are more important than long lines in airports. When I think of what this bill says about our shared values, I think we must be proclaiming, "Blessed are the wealthy," completely neglecting Jesus' own words, "Blessed are the poor." Can we ever proclaim the blessedness of the poor when our government systemically keeps them in poverty?
Our mission is not to make the poor become rich; nor is it to demonize the rich. Our mission is to ensure that the playing field is leveled. Every human being deserves to have enough. This shameful bill is a travesty of American governance.
Action Alert: CALLS needed WED, May 15, THURS, May 16 & FRI, May 17
On Thursday, May 16, and Friday, May 17, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider amendments relating to refugees, asylees, and other vulnerable populations in the bipartisan immigration bill, S. 744. In addition, they will continue to consider amendments on worker visas and interior enforcement. Committee members need to hear from people of faith across the country - not just those who live in their states - about the impact these amendments will have on our communities. Please call all day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Please call to speak with the office of a specific Judiciary Committee member.*
"As a person of faith, I urge the Senator to OPPOSE Graham Amendment #1 and ALL Grassley amendments, which would prevent refugees and asylum seekers from seeking safety and protection, and would needlessly expand immigration detention.
Also, I urge the Senator to SUPPORT all amendments by Senators Franken, Coons, and Blumenthal, which would improve the lives of vulnerable populations, including survivors of domestic abuse."
Below is a sample script. If you get an answering machine, please leave a message. More information on the amendments is below. Please refer to each amendment by sponsor NAME and NUMBER. All day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, staff will be reporting to Senators on the number of calls for and against each amendment.
GRAHAM AMENDMENT #1
This amendment would terminate protection for refugees, asylees and stateless persons living in the U.S. if they return to their country of origin. People who return to their country of origin are often risking their lives to see a dying loved one, aid with the care and protection of their children, or advance human rights.
ALL GRASSLEY AMENDMENTS
These amendments (specifically #25, #26, #27, and #52) would strike all of the positive refugee and asylum provisions from the base bill, including provisions that would improve access to life-saving protection for religious minorities in Iran and stateless people currently without legal protection. Grassley #52 in particular would delay positive changes to the asylum and student visa provisions in the bill by falsely conflating them with the Boston Marathon bombings. Grassley #40, #41, #47, #51 and #53 weaken due process and broaden the use of immigration detention. Also, Grassley #73 and #74 would negatively impact temporary workers.
ALL SESSIONS AMENDMENTS, Lee #16, #17, #19 and Hatch #19, #20
These amendments would prevent vulnerable populations, including those who have sought asylum but been denied, from relief and protection if they have ever attempted to use a false passport. Also, these amendments would enable employers to violate the rights of temporary workers by not requiring standard labor laws. Sessions #3, #10, #12, #17, #33, #34, and #39 would penalize immigrants who use public assistance programs; increase minimum bond amounts; encourage racial profiling and local anti-immigrant ordinances; and indefinitely stall the temporary worker program.
SUPPORT ALL FRANKEN, COONS AND BLUMENTHAL AMENDMENTS
These amendments, specifically Franken #7 and #9; Coons #6, #8, #12, and #13; and Blumenthal #2, #7, #8, #13, #14, #17, and #18, would help survivors of genocide and domestic violence; protect children and vulnerable individuals and improve oversight in detention and deportation proceedings; allow asylum seekers to work while they await their hearings; codify ICE policy restricting immigration enforcement actions at schools, hospitals, and places of worship; help temporary workers; and expand access to the pathway to citizenship.
*Please note that you likely will not be connected with your own Senator's office through this number, unless they are a specific Judiciary Committee member. This is the best way to raise our voices at this moment. Judiciary members know they are responsible to ALL of us as they consider amendments. Feel free to call multiple times to connect with all priority members. To call directly, see the Committee list at . For more information go to .
Follow the markup live at a link provided at . On Twitter, use #CIRmarkup, #SJC (senate judiciary committee), #timeisnow, #p2c (path to citizenship).You can also tweet at Judiciary Committee members: @SenatorLeahy, @SenFeinstein, @ChuckSchumer, @SenatorDurbin, @SenWhitehouse, @amyklobuchar, @alfranken, @ChrisCoons, @SenBlumenthal, @maziehirono, @ChuckGrassley, @OrrinHatch, @SenatorSessions, @LindseyGrahamSC, @JohnCornyn, @SenMikeLee, @tedcruz, @JeffFlake
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
This week, both the Senate and the House of Representatives will be making crucial steps to advance food and farm policy. Your voice is needed now: tell your members of Congress to enact a multi-year farm bill that alleviates hunger and malnutrition, supports vibrant farms and rural communities, and protects God’s creation.
The Senate Agriculture Committee is holding its bill “mark-up” today and the House Committee will follow suit tomorrow.
For a toll-free option, you can dial 1-800-826-3688 to reach your Senators’ and Representatives’ offices.* (Even if your Senators or Representative do not serve on Agriculture Committees, their support and encouragement are strongly needed for a positive Farm Bill outcome coming out of Committee!)
Our nation’s food and farm policies, as embodied in the farm bill, affect people from rural America to inner cities, from our local communities to less industrialized regions around the world. The farm bill is the single largest piece of federal policy impacting our food system. A good farm bill can strengthen nutrition programs like SNAP (formerly Food Stamps), help our struggling rural communities, support new and socially disadvantaged farmers, enhance global food aid to the world’s most impoverished, and encourage farming and ranching practices that protect God’s creation.
Now is the time to act. Join hundreds of other Christians today by urging Congress to pass a multi-year reauthorization of the farm bill that fights hunger, supports vibrant communities, and protects God’s creation. Write to your Members of Congress now!
Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees will be marking up versions of the farm bill this week. Congress failed to pass a farm bill in 2012, and a number of important programs that promote a just and healthy food system are currently without funding. Other programs are continuing, but need the certainty provided by a multi-year farm bill.
The Senate farm bill will likely look very similar to last year's stalled bill with roughly $23 billion in proposed cuts. About $4 billion will come from nutrition programs and roughly another $6 billion from conservation programs. The rest of the major savings will come from changes to commodity and crop insurance programs.
The House bill is expected to cut deeper than last year, aiming for $38 billion in total cuts over ten years. $20 billion of those cuts will come from the nutrition title but it is unclear how the remaining $18 billion will be divided amongst the rest of the titles.
For further reading:
*Talking Points for a Call to Congress:
- I am a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) where we are committed to food policies that ensure enough for everyone.
- I believe that just food policies is one of the tests of our nation and I urge you to work with your congressional colleagues to enact a Farm Bill this year that alleviates hunger and malnutrition, supports vibrant farms and strong communities, and protects God's creation.
- Any Farm Bill you support should:
- Alleviate hunger and malnutrition: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps), should be protected from cuts and harmful structural changes.
- Also, Congress should sustain robust international food aid and improve the nutritional quality of food aid.
- Support vibrant farms and healthy communities: Congress should support programs that help beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers get started in the business of agriculture (like the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and the Outreach and Technical Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers program).
- Other farm bill programs - like the Farmers Market Promotion Program in the United States and the Local and Regional Procurement program for international food aid - help build local and regional food systems and support the rural communities at their center.
- These important programs should be funded and expanded in a new farm bill.
- Protect God's creation: A new farm bill should strengthen policies and programs that promote conservation of soil and water and protect creation from environmental degradation.
- Conservation Compliance: the Farm Bill should require conservation compliance for recipients of federal crop insurance.
- By requiring basic levels of protection for soil, water, and wetlands, this conservation compact between farmers and taxpayers can help ensure that where public money is invested, our interests are protected.
- Funds for conservation programs, particularly those for working lands such as the Conservation Stewardship Program, are popular and should not be used to pay for other priorities.
- In a world where there is enough food for everyone, it is shameful that there are people who live in hunger and food insecurity. We need to promote policies that ensure that our abundant resources reach those who need them. I support a full five-year reauthorization of the Farm Bill that fights hunger, improves nutrition, supports vibrant farms and communities, and takes active steps to protect God’s good creation.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Immigrant families made their presence felt in the committee room where they composed a majority of the audience and they took their stories to the White House where a press conference was held for brave, powerful mothers to speak on the consequences of continued deportations. As the Senators debated about amendments to the bill, their presence served as a reminder that immigration is not an abstract issue and that future legislation will have lasting impacts on their families.
A full rundown of amendment votes that happened last week can be found at www.judiciary.senate.gov. Some amendments closely followed by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition were:
Amendments the Office of Public Witness supported:
- Hirono #23 was approved, which would require the border patrol to determine whether someone traveling with a child is the parent/guardian and whether deportation would raise humanitarian or safety concerns. Senator Hirono removed the requirement that these screenings happen within two hours of apprehension, but the amendment is still strong.
- Feinstein #6 was approved. This is another unaccompanied child-related amendment, which improves conditions and will keep children safe when in border patrol custody.
- Blumenthal's amendment #10 was also approved. It will help discourage and prevent racial profiling by allowing the Attorney General to refuse to reimburse state and local governments for detentions and prosecutions resulting from a violation of the law by a law enforcement official, such as an act of racial profiling.
- Senator Coons withdrew his amendment #2, which would prohibit dangerous practices that place migrants at increased vulnerability when deported at the Southern U.S. border. There will be an opportunity to reconsider this amendment during a Senate floor vote.
- Similarly, Feinstein also withdrew her amendment #11 for re-negotiation, so it will likely come up again. This amendment reduces the definition of the Southwest Border Region from the area within 100 miles of the Southern Border Region to a region of 25 miles, significantly reducing the area in which border agents can operate drone and video surveillance.
Amendments the Office of Public Witness opposed:
- Grassley #4 was defeated; this amendment could have delayed the pathway to citizenship indefinitely.
- Sessions #9 was defeated; it would require the completion of 700 miles of reinforced, double-layered fencing before the status of individuals with RPI status can be adjusted.
- Grassley #1 was approved; it will apply border security strategies, but only applied strategies to all border sectors, rather than just "high risk sectors."
Before the hearing started, immigrant families in the committee room stood and joined their hands in prayer with ally faith leaders. The Senate Judiciary Committee will continue considering amendments this Tuesday, May 14th and Thursday, May 16th, let’s also stand in solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters. A schedule of Tuesday’s mark up is posted here.