Take Action for Immigrants and Refugees

Several items in the news highlight the need to take action for immigrants and refugees this week:
Children remain in detention facilities months after the family separation policy ended. 140 children are still detained, including 117 children whose parents were deported without them.   Asylum seekers are waiting weeks for initial interviews and waiting months for determinations about their cases. This wait was cited among the factors leading to the use of tear gas at the US-Mexico border over the weekend.Citizenship wait times have also increased.Take Action: HIAS offers a number of ways to take action:Join a HIAS briefing call on November 28 at 2pm EST for an overview of the current issues facing refugees and asylum seekers, and the ways you can get involved in taking action. RSVP required.Talking points to use with CongressOther action steps are available at America offers a series of actions you can take with elected officials and in your ow…

Mid-Term Election Roundup

One week after the November mid-term elections, there are still a few races yet to be decided - both at the federal level and in at least one PA state race.

Nationally, Democrats now have a majority in the House of Representatives, while Republicans keep control of the Senate. 36 states had elections for Governor last week. 16 Democrats and 18 Republicans were elected, while 2 races remain undecided.

The 2018 election brought a number of "firsts" to Congress, including the first Native American Congresswomen, the first Muslim Congresswomen, and, for some states, their first African American or female legislators. PBS and The Washington Post have more information on the most diverse group of people elected in American history. 

Here are some takeaways on the election:
From FiveThirtyEight: Voter turnout was huge, with an estimated 116 million additional people voting in the 2018 midterm compared to 2014. 104 new people are going to the House of Representatives.This Congress …

Supporting Pittsburgh, and supporting refugees

On Saturday, Pittsburgh became one of the latest sites of gun violence in our country. At the Tree of Life Synagogue, 11 people were killed and 6 people injured after a shooter opened fire. Online postings that are being attributed to the shooter include rants against refugees, the Jewish community, and the organization HIAS, among others.

PathWays PA mourns for all those in Pittsburgh and all those affected by this shooting. We also stand with communities that support refugees, immigrants, and diversity. 
Our partner in Pittsburgh, the Women and Girls Foundation, wrote a beautiful letter which we encourage you all to read. They also suggested a number of actions which we've listed below.. Finally, they - and we - encourage you to use your vote to make a difference on November 6.
Take Action and Find Resources (from the Women and Girls Foundation and others)
If you have immediate needs, contact the Jewish Federation.Family Assistance Center at the JCC Squirrel HillDonate directly t…

Protect Trans Rights

According to the New York Times, the Department of Health and Human Services plans to create a legal definition of sex within Title IX. This definition will limit gender to male or female, depending on one's genitals at birth, and will be considered unchangeable.

This action, if fulfilled, puts many people's health and well-being at risk, including those are transgender or non-binary. Civil rights protections, especially for people living in states without their own gender nondiscrimination laws, would be rolled back. Even as the medical community is issuing new guidelines for helping people who identify as transgender, this change in definition could lead to the end of important research and possibly the denial of healthcare.

Take Action

(These actions are from our friends at PolicyLink)

Contact senior Administration officials. Let them know that you are opposed to any proposed rule that would strip transgender — or any — people of their civil rights and other protections.Secret…

Take action on changes to the Public Charge rule

Updated 11/13/18 - Remember to take action before December 10! New resources below!

On October 10, the Department of Homeland Security issued a new change to the public charge rule, which looks at how using public benefits affects a person's application to become a legal permanent resident (LPR) of the US. Essentially, this change means that using public benefits programs could make someone ineligible for legal residency in the country.

Under the proposed rule, use of programs such as Medicaid along with other health, nutrition, and housing benefits would now play a factor in residency decisions. Also, DHS could consider someone having lower income (under 125% of the Federal Poverty Level, or $25,975 for a family of three) as a negative factor.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 94% of all noncitizens who came to the US without LPR status have at least one "negative factor" under the new guidelines. Between 2.1 million and 4.9 million adults and children w…

Work requirement bills are moving forward in Pennsylvania

The full PA Senate is moving quickly to pass work requirement bills that would place a serious burden on low-income Pennsylvanians. A vote could happen as early as Wednesday, October 17.

HB 1659, which we discussed back in May, would expand work requirements on SNAP and cause nearly 100,000 people to lose access to food stamps. In most cases, people on SNAP must already work or participate in a training program if they are between the ages of 8-50, non-disabled, and not considered vulnerable individuals.

HB 2138 would put new work requirements on the Medicaid program, which helps low-income Pennsylvanians access health insurance. "Able-bodied" adults (which includes people who lose their job or have reduced hours because they are in treatment or recovering from surgery) would have to work 20 hours per week, look for a job, or participate in job training to qualify for Medicaid.

Take Action!

Our friends at Project Home put together an action alert, including a sample script to …

Good News - Make Calls to Support Sibling FMLA!

The Senate Labor and Industry Committee just approved a bill that would expand FMLA in Pennsylvania to cover siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren! This bill has been introduced over at least 4 sessions now, and today is the first time it has come out of committee.

Joanne’s Law, SB 479, would allow workers who qualify for the FMLA to use that time to care for their siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren (the FMLA only covers parents, children, and spouses). While the leave would be unpaid, it would be a great step towards getting a full paid family leave program in PA.

Please read the story behind Joanne’s Law here, and then take action! Call your Senators to ask them to bring Joanne’s Law up for a vote and to vote yes! Please also call Katrina in Senator Scarnati's office with your name, phone number, and support for the bill - you can reach her at 717-787-7084.