The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
We Decide the State of Our Union
By Shayna Lewis on January 30, 2019
Last night, President Trump was initially scheduled to give the State of the Union, which is now set for next Tuesday, February 5. The speech was moved because, during the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, both sides ultimately agreed it didn’t make sense given the cost and security needs. It also wasn’t likely to be a moment when many of us were able to listen anyhow, as it’s become increasingly difficult to stomach what the president has to say.
The past two years have been hard to bear. Millions of people, particularly immigrants, Muslims, transgender individuals, and low-income families have suffered needlessly under a White House that aims to implement an often unlawful and consistently immoral white nationalist agenda. The number of individuals harmed grows larger each day, and it will take generations for our families, communities, and the environment to recover from the damage.
But there are signs that recovery is possible. Earlier this month the most diverse Congress ever took their seats. Among the notable “firsts” to serve in the U.S. Capitol are Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first Muslim woman, and Reps. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) and Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) the first Native American women. Women—127 of them—currently comprise almost a quarter of the body. We are hopeful that the legislation this Congress passes truly reflects the deep experiences of its members.
We have good reason for such optimism. Just last week, the new Congress held strong against the President’s demands for an unnecessary and harmful border wall, denying him the funding to implement a ruthless anti-immigrant agenda that would harm children, further limit asylum, and militarize the southern border.
In 2019, UUSC will continue to resist the Trump administration’s harmful policies at every turn, working to protect frontline communities at risk of criminalization and systemic oppression because of who they are. This work will include, but is not limited to:
- Keeping our families together by defending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and Dreamers, advocating for the introduction and passage of legislation like the Dream Act (H.R. 3440 and S.1615) and the American Promise Act (H.R. 4253), which offer a path to citizenship for Dreamer, TPS, and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) communities at risk of losing their protected status.
- Supporting indigenous communities, local municipalities, and states as they work to combat the effects of climate change, particularly in the absence of leadership from the White House. In addition to directly supporting communities in their decision to remain in or relocate from areas affected by climate change, UUSC is also in coalition with allies to advocate for a Green New Deal that is inclusive, visionary, and calls for tangible action to address the deepening crisis.
- Resuming our call for Congress to pass the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act. As the Rohingya Muslim minority in Burma confront ongoing human rights violations at the hands of Burmese military, it is beyond time for the United States to use its leverage to end the violence, provide humanitarian assistance, hold the perpetrators accountable, and allow for the peaceful return of the more than 720,000 Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh in late 2017.
- Remaining agile and responsive to environmental crises and state-sanctioned violence as it happens, mobilizing our supporters and leveraging our institutional resources to provide aid quickly and ensure a just recovery.
Throughout the next 12 months, UUSC will remain vigilant as President Trump will undoubtedly aim to implement policies that will leave more people vulnerable to incredible harm. As we confront hatred, white supremacist nationalism, and anti-immigrant xenophobia, we hold on to the guidance provided by the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism, particularly the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. Our values call us to this struggle and provide us the fortification not only to hope for, but also to build, a more just world.
Next week, UUSC staff will provide live analysis of the president’s State of the Union address on Twitter—follow along at @UUSC and join in the conversation with #SOTU.
Photo Credit: Unsplash – Trent Yarnell