Iowa Catholic Conference Newsletter, New Action Alert

To: Iowa Catholic Conference Legislative Network

NEW ACTION ALERT

We have posted a new action alert in support of a pilot program to assist refugees who have been placed in Iowa. Senate File 2270 would allocate about $2.2 million to help community organizations train refugees to assist other refugees in getting a job, food, clothing, shelter, English language training, etc. The U.S. government provides transitional assistance only during the first 90 days refugees are here. Catholic Charities is among the few organizations that resettle refugees in Iowa. Please send a message to your Iowa state senator in support of Sena....

NEWS UPDATE

The state Senate's Education Appropriations Committee has released the first version of the Education Department budget. It includes a $50,000 increase in funding for textbooks and technology for nonpublic school students, for a total of about $650,000. Thanks to all of you who sent a message to your legislator on the issue. If you haven’t yet sent a message, you are still encouraged to do so at www.votervoice.net/ICC/campaigns/35280/respond. The transportation services line item for nonpublic school students won't be addressed until the standing appropriations bill, which is usually the last bill of the session

We’re still encouraging state legislators to complete work on Senate File 2311, a bill to address the problem of human trafficking. The House and Senate have passed different versions of a bill, but each retained a provision that allows the referral of a prostitute who is a juvenile to the state Department of Human Services (DHS) for assistance, rather than being prosecuted. In our opinion this part of the bill is still worth doing as it supports county attorneys in having a stronger legal basis to make a referral to DHS.

Human traffickers lure vulnerable men, women and children with false promises of good jobs, an education, economic security and even love. Once lured, the traffickers are able to keep their victims from seeking help by taking identification documents, using threats of violence against the victim or their family, as well as subjecting the victim to physical, psychological and/or sexual abuse.

Just last week, for example, the owner of a nail salon in Mankato, Minn., pleaded guilty to forced labor trafficking after smuggling a woman from Vietnam into our country for employment and then failing to pay her.

At the federal level, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) encourage your support of The Fraudulent Overseas Recruitment and Trafficking Elimination Act of 2013 (FORTE Act), H.R. 3344. It aims to reduce the vulnerability of temporary workers in the U.S. from falling into labor trafficking. In addition, the legislation aims to reduce the likelihood that foreign assistance programs would inadvertently increase vulnerability.

Many of the recommendations in this legislation stem from CRS’ work in this area, and in particular, a project in Mexico called Jornaleros Safe. You can help eliminate human trafficking today by calling on your Representative to co-sponsor the FORTE Act and urging the Judiciary Committee to move the bill forward as quickly as possible. Click here for the CRS action alert.

Pope Francis met President Obama at the Vatican on Thursday. According to a statement released by the Vatican, among the topics discussed were human trafficking, life issues and conscience, religious freedom, and immigration. Click here for a story from Catholic News Service.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration and bishops who will participate in the Mass on the Border and “Mission for Migrants,” in Nogales, Arizona, invite all Catholics to unite in prayer, fasting and action for immigration reform.

Catholics can join in prayer with the bishops in several ways:

  • By following the April 1 Mass in memory of the thousands of migrants who have lost their lives trying to cross the Arizona desert. The Mass will be live streamed at 11 a.m. at www.justiceforimmigrants.org.
  • By advocating for immigration reform by sending an electronic postcard to members of Congress. Or by using the toll free number: 1-855-589-5698 to “support a path to citizenship and oppose the SAFE Act.”
  • By fasting in solidarity with migrants and immigrants. Fasting can turn our attention from our own needs and allows them to open their hearts to the suffering of others.

The U.S. bishops’ conference continues to address abortion-related problems in the Affordable Care Act. There is an article by Richard Doerflinger of the bishops’ staff on the website of America Magazine at www.americamagazine.org/issue/careful-reading. It points out that the Affordable Care Act does not yet reflect the view of most Americans, and most American women, that they should not have to pay for elective abortions through their tax dollars or health premiums. It recommends enactment of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which has been approved by the House of Representatives, to correct this problem. The bishops’ conference has not joined in the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but as readers of this newsletter are aware, has worked for specific changes. 

AND FINALLY,

If you want to receive action alerts in addition to this newsletter, we need your street address. Go to www.votervoice.net/icc/home and enter your email address and ZIP where it says “Quick Sign Up.”

 

 

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