Advocacy Day at the Capitol

Advocacy Day at the Capitol

by Lynn Zender, Chair,  Welcoming the Stranger Task Force; Alison Pease, Member, Welcoming the Stranger Task Force

On Monday, May 23rd Lynn Zender and Alison Pease, from the Welcoming the Stranger Task Force, and the Rev. Lucretia Jevne, President of Episcopal Community Services, took part in the annual immigration day rally and advocacy day at the capitol in Sacramento. It was an excited and engaged crowd of people from all over the state who gathered in the name of justice to advocate for what, for most of us, are reasonable rights. 

The Welcoming the Stranger Task Force was established following a resolution at our 2014 Diocesan Convention, in response to the insurgence of refugees coming out of the violence and poverty of Central America to our borders. Welcoming the Stranger is guided by the work of the Episcopal Migration Ministries of The Episcopal Church, and aims to find tangible and practical ways to help address and raise awareness for the needs of refugees, immigrants, and all people suffering as a result of oppression, injustice, and terror in the world.

In preparation for the May rally, teams were formed to visit the legislative offices of the Assembly and Senate members of our respective districts. We were teamed up with a group called Vidas, from Santa Rosa, and visited with a legislative aide from Assembly Member Dodd's office and from Senator Lois Wolk's office.

One of our team members was a young man who grew up in Calistoga, but was still undocumented and could not get health care. As an epileptic, he is one seizure away from economic disaster. One of the bills being advocated for was SB 10 to allow all Californians, including undocumented immigrants and DACCA inhabitants, access to Covered California. A corollary to that is SB 1418 to expand Medi-Cal to cover all undocumented adults. Just the previous week Medi-Cal had been expanded to cover children, but adults are as much in need of health care as the children.

Other bills include expanding food assistance eligibility, a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (SB 1015) for overtime protections privately hired domestic workers, and a bill phasing in overtime for agricultural workers (AB 2757).  There are many more that affect our neighbors in the shadows and anything that will provide a safer, healthier and better life for them provides the same for all citizens. While we were in the capitol we learned that the bill AB 2792 passed the Assembly. This is called the Truth Act and is designed to bring the truth of the practices of ICE to light, allowing for communities to make policies to meet local needs and to create a transparent process, including community engagement before local law enforcement turns to ICE.  There was much cheering in the halls of the capitol, as there should be when light overcomes the darkness! This bill now goes to the Senate.

The enthusiasm and dedication of these myriads of people coming from all over California to advocate for a better life for them and thus for all of us was inspiring and it was a joy to be a part of this action. The Task Force is hoping that more people in our diocese will become involved in striving for justice and to respect the dignity of all of our neighbors.

The Task Force has established a resource page on the diocesan website, which can be found Further information about what YOU can do and the contact information to connect with us is found on this webpage. We would love to welcome more members on our task force! Join us as we aim to follow in the Jesus movement and help our neighbor, the stranger, in their time of need.

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