Engagement in the Public Square/usa

Engagement in the Public Square/usa

Some 10 years ago the Sisters of the US Province became aware of UNANIMA International, a Non- governmental Organization, an NGO, advocating for those on the fringes of society. UNANIMA’ s work takes place primarily at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.  There many religious communities and other members of Civil Society aim to educate and influence policy makers at the global level.

It was mainly through the work of UNANIMA that many of us Handmaids grasped in a new way the urgency of engaging in Advocacy. We saw Advocacy as an active and effective tool for the important way of reparation – registering our public support for policies that work for systemic change for shaping a more just and equitable world.

In 2012, the most important assembly of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus gathered in Rome. The goal of that meeting, as of all such meetings, is always to wrestle with a couple of relentless and interconnected questions:

As a Religious community, how can we continue to deepen inward and expand outward? And,

How can we best engage what life is asking of us now?

Six weeks later the outcome of our deliberations was an overwhelming gratitude. Gratitude for the desire to serve and give back, especially to those in greatest need.  GC XIX – as we call those periodic assemblies every 5 years- made the following recommendation to our Superior General:

That she initiate the process of incorporation of the Institute into the inter-congregational NGO UNANIMA international, which works in the United Nations “ in support of women and children,( particularly those who live in poverty), Migrants and Refugees, the Homeless, the Displaced and the Environment.”

And so, for the last 8 years we have redoubled our efforts to make our voices heard in the public square. Here is a sample of what has occupied us lately:

June 20, 2020, World Refugee Day.

We wrote to our Senators. We urged them to provide $12 billion in emergency aid for health services, food security, and access to clean water in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Aug 18, 2020, 2020

We inform ourselves of some of the latest measures taken by President Trump regarding immigration. All countries have imposed travel restrictions in response to the pandemic. At the end of April 2020, the US became the first, and so far, the only country to explicitly justify mobility limitations, not on grounds of health risk, but to protect the jobs and the economic wellbeing of US workers

Aug 21, 2020

We joined more than 170 of the nations’ leading organizations, among them LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious), in releasing the 2021 Immigration Action Plan.  A broad-based advocacy effort to treat migrants and refugees with justice and humanity. Trump’s divisive, anti- Black and racist rhetoric against immigrants has resulted in greater xenophobia, further corroding a system that has been broken for decades.

The 2021 Immigration Action Plan proposes 10 actions which will both reverse the racism and damage of the Trump years and reshape long standing deportations policies that have defined many past administrations:

1          Prioritize Equity and Harm reduction in the Immigration System

2          End the Anti-Black and Discriminatory Targeting of Certain US Citizens and Immigrants

3          Rebuild the US Economy

4          Re-envision Leadership in the next Administration

5          Decriminalized Immigration

6          Protect Immigrant Children, families and their Communities

7          Phase out Immigration jails and find community-based case management programs

8          Establish thriving, right-respecting borders

9          Reimagine the role of the Immigrant Courts

10        Restore the right to seek and receive protection from persecution, torture, and other serious human rights violations

Sept 8, 2020

We contacted the members of Congress to restore The Refugee Program, which under the present Administration has been reduced to a minimum.

Since 1980, the U.S. has aimed to resettle an average of 95,000 refugees per year – the most of any country in the world. However, the Trump administration’s goal for fiscal year 2020 was to admit a maximum of just 18,000 refugees.

Sept 27,2020   Celebration of the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees

We read the message of Pope Francis for this day and we informed our Representatives of our positions regarding two important pieces of legislation:

–           Welcoming Refugees in US Policy

–           Justice for Immigrants in US Policy

As we continue to have our voices heard in the public square, we are strengthened in the conviction that this struggle is our humble but most important contribution to shape our world as God desires it

Sagrario Núñez, aci