Every other Thursday, Equal Voice News tracks the latest from the Trump administration and whether its policies are creating poverty or prosperity. We have reports from families and grassroots organizations working on those issues around the country. Here’s our latest:
Bipartisanship? In 2017? Yes, on Criminal Justice, Immigration and Families.
Congress can be a bitter and divided place these days, but a couple of bipartisan rays of sunshine have appeared.
To protect the nation’s “dreamers” – young people whose parents brought them to the U.S. without documentation before 2010 – a Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and a Democrat, Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, joined forces to introduce the Dream Act.
The act would create an opportunity for these young people to earn their citizenship, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) reports.
“This important bipartisan effort deserves to see the light of day as it clearly addresses the fundamental question of what to do with nearly one million young immigrants who contribute positively in a multitude of ways to their communities and our nation,” CHIRLA’s executive director Angelica Salas said in a statement.
Just in time for the introduction of the Dream Act in D.C. is a group of immigrant youth from Farmers Self-Help Inc. and other grassroots organizations in Florida. They’re meeting with their lawmakers in Congress with a message: This issue affects us and our families, and a solution is needed.
Two other senators joined hands across the partisan divide and introduced a plan to help reform bail in America.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., unveiled legislation that would provide $10 million worth of grants to encourage local governments to try alternatives to cash bail, The Washington Post reports.
“I think there’s a majority – there might even be 60 votes for some of these things on criminal-justice reform,” Paul told The Post.
Check out the story. It runs down encouraging debates and potential progress on criminal justice reforms in communities across the country, from Illinois to Kentucky.
Don’t forget Los Angeles…
Even though Los Angeles County wasn’t mentioned in that story, it’s considering its own ambitious plan to eliminate boxes indicating a criminal conviction, The Los Angeles Times reports in “So you need a job but you’re a felon? L.A. County may be on your side.”
Nationwide, the movement is known as “ban the box” and companies are doing their part to help, too.
Now Back to the Rancor. Yes, That Means Health Care.
As the Senate moves forward with its plans to repeal and replace all or part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), here are a few stories to keep in mind:
- “Transgender health care targeted in crusade to undo ACA.” (Kaiser Health News on PBS NewsHour.)
- “States may see federal Medicaid funding decline up to 39 percent under repeal.” (Politico)
- “These 2 Medicaid provisions prevent medical debts from ruining people’s lives” (Vox)
And on Civil and Human Rights and the LGBT Community.
President Donald Trump’s tweeted ban on transgender people in the military caught some Republicans by surprise, The Washington Post reports in “Hill Democrats slam Trump’s military transgender ban…”
In another development, “Trump administration, intervening in major LGBT case, says job bias law does not cover sexual orientation,” The Washington Post reports.
Another Win and Push for Higher Minimum Wages for Silicon Valley Working Families.
The city of Santa Clara is one of the latest regions to raise its minimum wage. The city council unanimously approved raising it to $15 an hour, putting the county ahead of a statewide increase that will take effect in 2022, according to Silicon Valley Rising, a grassroots coalition of organizations in the region.
“This vote caps our unique regional approach to raise the wage and gives a much-needed, hard-earned boost to thousands of workers struggling to afford Silicon Valley’s sky-high living costs,” Derecka Mehrens, executive director of Silicon Valley Rising member Working Partnerships USA, said in a statement.
In 2015, she wrote that Silicon Valley technology companies could do a better job raising hourly pay for their low-wage workers.
In other wage news, “New Orleans groups to push for raising minimum wage, ‘banning the box.”
(Sources: Jobs With Justice digest, Associated Press, news outlets, and, of course, our neighbors. Paul Nyhan is the senior writer for Equal Voice News, which is published by Marguerite Casey Foundation. Ebony Slaughter-Johhnson, an Equal Voice News contributor, provided research assistance with this digest.)