Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Youth Organizations Issue Statement Calling on Gov. Christie to Keep his Promise to Support Tuitiion Equity

YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS CALL ON GOVERNOR CHRISTIE TO FULFILL DREAM ACT CAMPAIGN PROMISE Youth Demand Equality & Economic Opportunity (Trenton, New Jersey) As a result of Governor Christie's public support of the NJ DREAM Act during his campaign, he won a second term with 51% of the Latino vote. However, before the bill is even on his desk, the governor backpedaled on his campaign promise, stating, “They’re overreaching and making it unsignable and making the benefits richer than the federal program, the federal Dream Act, that’s simply not acceptable for me.” The governor’s comments are erroneous and suspect, given that the federal Dream Act is about a path to citizenship for college-eligible youth and service men and women in the armed forces, while the NJ Tuition Equity Bill, (also known as the NJ DREAM Act), is about ensuring that all taxpaying NJ residents are charged in-state tuition and have access to state aid. A NJ DREAM Act with access to state aid for undocumented immigrants is the best policy for all NJ residents and will strengthen NJ’s economy. To be eligible for state aid, undocumented students would be required to submit proof of residency and tax payments. Denying tax-paying NJ residents access to the state aid their taxes help to fund, solely on account of their immigrant status, is discriminatory. The NJ DREAM Act will ensure all taxpaying NJ residents have access to education. Full access to higher education for all NJ residents will cultivate a highly educated workforce that will attract and keep business in the state. As tuition becomes more affordable, families can use their tuition savings to meet other needs, circulating this money back into the economy. In addition, tuition equity and access to state aid for all NJ’s residents would lead to an increase in county college tuition revenue, as undocumented students would be able to attend such institutions. Strengthening New Jersey’s county colleges strengthens the state economy.[1] Workers with a BA earn significantly more per year than those with just a high school diploma & pay more of their earnings in taxes. Some of these students will eventually become entrepreneurs who will create jobs for others. The National Small Business Association points out that one in five new business owners in New Jersey is foreign-born. NJ can’t afford to discriminate against its students and future business owners. Contrary to critics’ concerns, a NJ DREAM Act with access to state aid for undocumented immigrants does not conflict with federal law, does not negatively impact the availability of funding for NJ’s low-income students, nor does it significantly affect the state’s budget. Federal law guarantees access to public education for all children, regardless of immigrant status, from Kindergarten to 12th grade. While federal law has not made federal aid available to undocumented students, states may and have passed laws to provide legal benefits to undocumented immigrants.[2] Specifically, California, New Mexico and Texas already provide undocumented students with access to state aid.[3] For almost all NJ families, college tuition means financial hardship. For undocumented families, whose average earnings are about 40 percent less than the earnings of authorized immigrants or citizens, the burden is even heavier. Only those students whose families have filed their income tax returns will be eligible to even apply for state aid. We must fund education sufficiently so that all who are qualified may complete their education, not deny the opportunity to undocumented immigrant students[4]. The NJ DREAM Act would increase the number of recipients of state aid by less than five percent.[5] In Massachusetts for example, after 7 months of providing instate tuition for undocumented students, less than 50 undocumented students had enrolled.[6] Texas recorded the largest student influx, with just over 8,000 students, but even there, undocumented students only account for seven-tenths of one percent of the total student population[7]. Most importantly, tuition equity with access to state aid is not a freebie. Like all New Jersey residents, undocumented immigrants pay property tax, either as homeowners or indirectly as renters. Undocumented immigrants pay sales taxes and many have payroll taxes deducted from their weekly earnings. In 2006 over 100,000 individual filers living in New Jersey used an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (available from the IRS for those without Social Security Numbers) to pay these taxes. Governor Christie has no reason to oppose the NJ DREAM Act with access to state aid and every reason to support it. The NJ Tuition Equity for DREAMers Coalition urges the assembly to join the state senate in passing this bill. Christie should fulfill his campaign promise to support this bill. [1] http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/public/pdf/rd/winning_the_skills_race_summary.pdf [2] section 505 of the Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Reconciliation Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) prohibits states from providing any higher education benefit based on residence to undocumented immigrants unless they provide the same benefit to U.S. citizens in the same circumstances, regardless of their residence. [3] http://www.njpp.org/assets/reports/NJPPTuitionEquityNovember2013.pdf [4] http://www.nilc.org/basic-facts-instate.html [5] http://www.njpp.org/assets/reports/budget-fiscal/2-rpt_tuition.pdfhttp://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/public/pdf/rd/winning_the_skills_race_summary.pdf [6] http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadlines/ci_23472207/tuition-opportunity-lost [7] See “AssemblyAppropriations Committee Statement to Assembly Committee Substitute For NJA-2633,” 210th Legislature. December 11, 2003.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Catholics Against Militarism Organizing Opposition to Collection for Archdiocese of Military Services

Spread the word: Catholics Against Militarism (CAM) an informal, grassroots, Internet-based movement challenging militaristic attitudes in the U.S. Catholic Church is organizing opposition to this weekend's first-ever nationwide collection for the Archdiocese of Military Services. No one is suggesting that Catholics anywhere should go without spiritual guidance and support. The question is: What kind of spiritual guidance and support are soldiers receiving from Catholic military chaplains? Are conscientious objectors finding support from Catholic chaplains? The evidence suggests not because of the inherent conflict of interest that comes from having chaplains who are employees of the military. http://catholicsagainstmilitarism.com/

Pax Christi USA: Still Reawakening the World to the Nonviolence of Jesus

Response to “What Peace Movement” (Aug.2, 2013 NCR) and Tom Cordaro’s “The Catholic Peace Movement: dying and rising” (Sept. 27, 2013 NCR) By Antonia Malone, Middletown, NJ Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace Any analysis of what’s happening with the Catholic Peace Movement, and for that matter, other peace movements, and any discussion as to where we are going has to take into account the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and its geo-political consequences. The peace movements, both in the eastern and western blocks took a serious blow at that time. When I visited Russia in the 1980’s the going riddle was, “What do you do if the United States launches a nuclear weapon at us?” And the answer was, “Wrap yourself in a sheet and walk to the cemetery.” In the USA we talked about MAD (mutually assured destruction) and the clock at 1 minute before midnight… and the bishops wrote their careful historic peace pastoral, The Challenge of Peace. After 1989 the urgency felt on both sides by the general populace in both blocks disappeared to a large extent. In the former East Germany, at a meeting I attended in 1993 with some pastors who had been leaders of the resistance, it was clear no one knew what they should do now. In Berlin, the talk in church circles was of “Die Wendung”, the turning to the West, and not everyone thought of this as positive. Fear of the influence of Western materialism and individualism was also present in Russia by those still preferring Gorbachev’s careful realism to Yeltsin’s impetuous turning to the free market. And in the USA people in general thought the crisis resolved, and got back to business as usual. Now, of course, this didn’t happen all at once within the peace movement, but it definitely set the present crisis (as referred to in the aforementioned articles), in motion, and forced a reassessment of Pax Christi’s priorities. The 1992 PCUSA National Assembly celebrated both our 20th Anniversary and began the process of formulating for our movement a new Statement of Purpose and set of priorities. Those priorities, The Spirituality of Nonviolence and Peacemaking; Disarmament, Demilitarization and Reconciliation with Justice; Economic and Interracial Justice; and Human Rights and Global Restoration, are still our priorities today. Other peace movements, such as the Coalition for Peace Action chose to remain focused on the abolition of war and nuclear weapons. Both of us are still in business. The beauty of Pax Christi was and is, that it has always tried to address the many avenues to peace and social justice promoted by Scripture and the Catholic tradition, (and perhaps improve on the latter a little bit along the way). Cordaro and O’Neill note that “the Catholic peace movement ain’t what it used to be.” (NCR, Aug.2). Well, right, nothing is. Everything evolves, and paths need to be redefined as awareness and consciences evolve, but Pax Christi USA was never, including in the 1970’ s, “founded to serve the needs of White Catholic peace activists.” (Cordaro, Aug 2, 2013). It was founded to reawaken the world to the nonviolence of Jesus and to address the signs of the times, in particular the evil of war. In the 70’s and 80’s Pax Christi did this by focusing on the nuclear issue and the violence against the poor in Latin America and the marginalized, especially in the cities of the developing world. Since PCUSA’s refocusing of 1992-93, the need to address the internal issues of immigration, racism and the death penalty has become increasingly apparent, while at the same time we are reminded by our great leaders, such as Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, that the nuclear danger and the violent wars of today require our constant vigilance and the best of our brains, spirit and bodies to address. Pax Christi and the larger peace movement can do both, and O’Neill’s article illustrates excellently that there are many conscientious grassroots organizers working on it. We just need to keep our eyes on the Nonviolent Jesus. In the 1980’s I was at a large social justice and peace conference in Washington DC run by Sojourners. I remarked, perhaps naively, to a leading black activist, a friend of the late Martin Luther King, Jr., that there were so few people of color present. He simply told me that these were not his people’s issues. “Our concerns are jobs, getting enough to eat and the ever present racism.” I’m sure he would be pleased to note that he has been heard, at least by the peace movement, and that we don’t live in parallel universes. The members and staff of Pax Christi USA, the NCR, Pope Francis and our authors Patrick O’Neill and Tom Cordaro are all working on peace and social justice, each in their own way, and for that we thank God and pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide us all.