The Iowa Catholic Conference is asking for your help with two new action alerts. Many of you have already sent in a message on one of these issues – if so, thank you!
- Oppose House Study Bill 67 – an “enforcement-only” immigration bill. This bill passed out of subcommittee last week and is eligible for consideration by the full Iowa House Public Safety Committee, possibly early this week. Click here for the alert. Only people who are a constituent of a member serving on this committee will be able to use the alert. Others could send a direct email using the messaging from the alert to one of the leaders of the committee, or their nearest member. Here’s a link to the full committee.
- Support Education Savings Accounts (ESA) – Legislation implementing an ESA program is expected to be introduced soon. Click here for the alert.
Here are some quick points on the proposals:
House Study Bill 67 would prohibit the state, counties, cities and some post-secondary educational institutions from limiting or restricting enforcement of federal immigration law in Iowa.
We are concerned about the bill for several reasons. First, we believe we have a Scriptural obligation to “welcome the stranger” and support public policies that help immigrants provide for their families. The bishops appreciate the right of the government to control our borders, but don’t believe that a large-scale detention system and a crackdown at the local level is going to be helpful for families.
We believe one effect of the bill would be to push every Iowa county to always comply with all federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests to hold undocumented people, even if longer than their offense would normally allow.
As a result, there is concern that the bill would cause some citizens and non-citizens to fear interaction with the police because their immigration status or that of their friends might be investigated. Many members of the law enforcement community appreciate the value of separating local policing from federal law enforcement. The bill would also likely conflict with federal privacy laws regarding students’ information.
Legislators seem to rushing HSB 67 through with the bill being introduced Wednesday and a subcommittee meeting being held right away the next day.
Regarding Education Savings Accounts, we believe that all parents, regardless of address or income, deserve education choices that reflect their basic convictions and aspirations for their child. ESAs will allow parents who choose not to enroll their children in a public school to receive a deposit of public funds into a savings account set up by the state. This money could be used by parents for Catholic school tuition or other educational purposes. We anticipate seeing an ESA proposal soon at the legislature.
Senate File 2 passes Iowa Senate
Senate File 2 passed the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 30 to 20. The bill sets up a state-funded family planning program, which is intended to duplicate the current federal-state program. The main change is that abortion providers would not be able to receive funding. The ICC supports the bill.
The bill now goes to the Iowa House for consideration. We anticipate having a new action alert at the appropriate time.
Take action now to stand up for refugees and immigrants
You are encouraged to contact the president and your members of Congress and stand up for refugees and immigrants. Click here for the alerts and sample messages.
The Catholic Church has been resettling refugees in Iowa for decades with few problems. As the action alert says, “The proposed changes in the resettlement program are contrary to our country’s values and ideals of freedom, fairness and compassion.”
We are also supporting the federal BRIDGE Act as a bipartisan effort to sustain temporary relief from deportation and employment eligibility offered to youth through the Department of Homeland Security’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Bishops asking for executive order on religious liberty
At the federal level, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued an action alert aimed at President Trump in support of an executive order on religious liberty.
From the bishops’ perspective, elements of such an order should include:
- Relief from the “HHS mandate” forcing cooperation with contraception and abortion-inducing drugs
- Preservation of tax-exempt status for nonprofits that hold beliefs based on marriage, human sexuality, and the protection of human life at all stages
- The ability of religious organizations that partner with the federal government to act according to their beliefs regarding marriage, human sexuality, and the protection of human life at all stages.
Religious freedom entails more than the freedom to worship but also includes the ability to act on one’s beliefs.
Don’t forget to download the VoterVoice app on your smartphone, then enter your email address and search for “Iowa Catholic Conference.” It’s the easiest way to stay in touch with our action alerts.