The right to vote is foundational to our form of government. Voting allows citizens to have a say in decisions that affect our lives and to be fairly represented by officials who are responsive to our needs.
The cry of our dear neighbor impels us as Sisters of St Joseph, together with our associates and companions, to commit ourselves to work towards dismantling interlocking systems of oppression, including those that would limit access to voting. Our sisters marched in Selma to help secure the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Sisters of St. Joseph were part of the treatment team that cared for John Lewis when he was brutally beaten on the Edmund Pettis Bridge fighting for voting rights. Today, we urge the swift passage of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. These are two steps to ensuring that our voting processes do not discriminate against voters based on race.
Please find further information about both The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act below. If you are looking for a way to contact your Senators about supporting these acts or want to send a letter to the editor of your local paper, you can find both below as well.
Both of these bills deserve bipartisan support. As the Community of St Joseph, which values seeking unity and communion, we are disheartened by the absence of such collaboration. If our Congress cannot find compromises that allow passage of these two bills, then we reluctantly support a filibuster carve-out by the United States Senate for bills that relate to voting rights.
The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act seeks to restore the full protections of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. This new legislation is updated in part to reduce its vulnerability to another court challenge on the grounds of having outdated data on discriminatory voting practices, which was the basis for the 2013 Supreme Court decision. The revised bill is also worded to address a more recent Supreme Court decision that made the use of lawsuits against election officials under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act more difficult.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act provides the necessary tools to address discriminatory voting practices and protects all Americans’ access to the ballot box. This bill:
• Creates a new coverage formula that applies to all states and hinges on finding repeated voting rights violations in the preceding 25 years;
• Establishes a targeted process for reviewing voting changes in jurisdictions nationwide, focused on measures that have historically been used to discriminate against voters;
• Allows a federal court to order states or jurisdictions to be covered for results-based violations, where the effect of a particular voting measure (including voter ID laws) is to lead to racial discrimination in voting and to deny citizens their right to vote;
• Increases transparency by requiring reasonable public notice for voting changes;
• Allows the Attorney General authority to request federal observers be present anywhere in the country where there is a serious threat of racial discrimination in voting;
• Revises and tailors the preliminary injunction standard for voting rights actions to recognize that there will be cases where there is a need for immediate preliminary relief; and
• Increases accessibility and protections for Native American and Alaska Native voters.
The Freedom to Vote Act creates national standards for states that have voter identification requirements, expands early voting, makes Election Day a national holiday, bans partisan gerrymandering and implements election security and campaign finance measures. This bill is a compromise effort to find middle ground that is acceptable to moderates of both parties, replacing the For the People Act. It addresses new legislation in many states that increases voting restrictions.
The Freedom to Vote Act:
• Allows for same-day voter registration,
• Establishes automatic voter registration,
• Protects and expands access to voting by mail,
• Establishes 15 days of early voting, including at least two weekends,
• Restores voting rights to individuals who have been previously incarcerated,
• Prevents partisan gerrymandering, and
• Protects against voter intimidation.
As a congregation, we have made a commitment to “deepen awareness of our complicity and work toward dismantling interlocking systems of oppression.” One such system of oppression is the existing immigration system in the United States. Our dear neighbors who are seeking asylum and better opportunities in the United States face a byzantine process that results in many living in constant fear of deportation and unable to access social safety net programs.
DREAMers are undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children (the term comes from the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors or DREAM Act, which never passed Congress). The United States is frequently the only home they have known. DREAMers are critical members of our community. They serve in our military. They are teachers and students. They are health care providers and front-line workers. They are our neighbors. Together with their families, they make our nation a better place.
More than 650,000 DREAMers have already benefitted from the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) policy, a program created by executive order that has allowed them to apply for driver’s licenses, social security numbers and work permits. Tens of thousands of DREAMers have pending applications for DACA, but that program remains in jeopardy as it is being fought in the courts.
Please take a moment to use our tool below and tell your elected members of Congress that these young people are essential members of our communities. They deserve a permanent solution and a road to citizenship now.
As Sisters of St. Joseph, love of God and our dear neighbors guides all our actions. Our love for our immigrant neighbors compels us to work for better systems to protect them. In particular, we support the measures in President Biden’s Build Back Better plan that would create a pathway to citizenship for some immigrant workers, and we encourage everyone to contact their elected officials to ensure they are passed.
The Build Back Better legislative package, which will most likely be considered through the reconciliation process requiring 51 votes rather than 60 votes in the Senate, has $1.2 billion in funding to establish and implement a pathway to citizenship for essential immigrant workers; farmworkers; people with DACA, TPS and DED; and their families. During August and September, while this legislation is being considered, we must watch closely and advocate strongly that this pathway to citizenship and the necessary $1.2 billion in funding not be stripped out of the bill.
Six million immigrant workers in our communities are at the frontlines, keeping us all healthy and fed during the COVID-19 pandemic. While they make up only 17% of about 156 million working people, immigrants are disproportionately represented in COVID-19 front-line occupations and essential industries, including being childcare workers, healthcare workers, custodial staff, school employees and farmworkers, to name a few examples. Immigrants, including 131,000 people with TPS and 200,000 people with DACA, are serving on the frontlines.
We are asking our congressional representatives to secure a pathway to citizenship for essential immigrant workers, farmworkers, people with DACA, TPS, and DED, and their families immediately as part of any recovery package being passed in reconciliation. Use the tool below to take action with us.
HR 1512, The Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act, introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in concert with the target identified by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to limit temperature increases to 1.5°C. These goals aim to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet encourage you to contact your Representatives and ask them to support this act.
The CLEAN Future Act includes measures such as:
Promoting the modernization of recycling and waste management and aims to reduce waste generation.
The Sisters of St Joseph of Carondelet, together with our associates and partners, support the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act of 2021 (BFFPPA). We are committed to responding to the crisis of Earth, which is increasingly worsened by plastic production and pollution. Contact your Senators and Representatives or send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper to show your support of this legislation.
We are deeply concerned that the United States produces the most plastic waste per capita of any country, an astounding 91% of which is never recycled. The U.S. has 4% of the world’s population but creates 12% of the world’s waste. Of the more than 350 million tons of plastic produced each year globally, 8 million tons wind up as plastic waste in the world’s oceans. Every year, the United States alone burns or buries in landfills 32 million tons of plastic, impacting the health of nearby communities. The petrochemical industry and its pollution disproportionately harm people of color and low-income communities where production plants choose to locate.
The Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act of 2021 builds on successful statewide laws across the country and outlines practical plastic reduction strategies to realize a healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable future. It will tackle the exploding crisis of plastic pollution and transform waste and recycling management in the United States. This legislation seeks to meaningfully address the plastic pollution crisis by:
This is a national and global issue. We strongly urge bipartisan cooperation to pass this bill.