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MAY 2023


Biden Eyeing The Border

The U.S. should comprehensively reform its immigration laws, policies, and practices,  to honor the humanity of migrants and would-be migrants
Washington, DC - Last week on April 27, 2023, the Biden Administration announced “sweeping new actions to manage regional migration ” ( U.S. Dept. of State ) ahead of May 11, 2023 when Title 42 is set to end as part of the expiration of the national COVID-19 public health emergency ( DHS Fact Sheet, and HHS OIG flexibilities Ending ).

Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice (UUSJ) has been monitoring conditions at the southern border and our government’s responses.  UUSJ has been advocating for the values of Unitarian Universalists to promote more just and equitable national policies that reflect the worth and dignity of every person. We believe some of the actions announced do not help and will cause harm.

We urge the Administration to drop some of the aspects which make access to asylum more burdensome and unavailable and only implement, in a thoughtful way, the positive aspects of this plan.

— # - # — 

"UUSJ believes that the U.S. must; 1) comprehensively reform its immigration laws, policies, and practices, to establish systems that, among other things, honor the humanity of migrants and would-be migrants, respectfully and efficiently considers their requests for asylum and other protections and benefits; and, 2)  provide accessible pathways for citizenship to people who want to raise families and fully participate in our republic. We understand this to be consistent with our faith’s call to “respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person,” and that includes that “no human being is illegal,” said Pablo DeJesús, Executive Director, UUSJ.


We Will Be Present At General Assembly, 2023

Be sure to stop by our UUSJ booth, join our breakfast reception, and celebrate your affiliation with UUSJ. Let's connect with new friends and old allies. Help strengthen our UU movement for direct federal advocacy. Pablo DeJesus, Executive Director, UUSJ, will attend his first General Assembly in person.

We ask all UUSJ folks who will attend to let us know you will attend HERE.

We will be looking to further connect UUSJ to the community of UUs that attend this event, spread the good word on our work, and strive to build affiliation with like-minded UUs from across the U.S.  We want to build an unremitting UU presence in DC, for direct federal advocacy, and that is best served by fellowship with folks well beyond the metropolitan area.

Video In The Works

Our Democracy Action and Immigration Action Teams have collaborated to develop an introductory and educational video as part of our attendance at GA this year. Be sure to look for it once it is available. Deep appreciation for team members' participation.

Special thanks to Starling Carter as a segment producer and UUSJ Board Member Rev. Peggy Clarke, as executive producer.

Advocacy News & Events


Tell Congress They Should Emphasize Human Needs and Community Concerns In the
FY24 Budget And Debt Ceiling Negotiations

Action Alert 
Distribute our Action Poster

President Biden put forward his budget proposal for FY 2024 (WH Fact Sheet) in March. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities makes a strong case in favor of President Biden’s 2024 Budget Moves Us Toward Nation Where Everyone Can Thrive.

In response, Congress ramped up its proposal development. Subsequently, House Leadership began merging its budget negotiation with the debt ceiling negotiation. Now we see that human needs and community concerns have landed on the chopping block.

The House has put forward the ‘‘Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023 (H.R. 2811)” with dramatic cuts, caps, and eligibility changes for human needs: anti-hunger, health, housing, early childhood, and other needs. Passing with 217 yea votes and 215 nay votes (Clerk’s Roll Call 199). This represents a serious threat to funding for vital programs that have helped communities sustain, persist and even thrive despite the pandemic and inflation volatility of the economy. 


We Still Want The Environmental Justice for All Act

Action Alert 
Distribute our Action Poster

Reintroduced as the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act of 2023 (H.R.1705, and S.919)

We still want Congress to act on "the moral principle that all people have the right to pure air, clean water, and an environment that enriches life."  We still agree "Federal policy can and should seek to achieve environmental justice, health equity, and climate justice for all underserved communities," let's urge them to do so.


UU News & Events


All Souls Church, Unitarian, to host National Bestselling Author Steve Phillips, talking about his new book, "How We Win the Civil War: Securing a Multiracial Democracy and Ending White Supremacy for Good"

May 1, 2023
7pm ET / 6pm CT / 5pm MT / 4pm PT
Full flyer here:

Buy tickets here; sliding scale $0-100 with in-person and online options. Book Signing and Light Reception to Follow.

All Souls Church, DC, is thrilled to announce the inaugural event in our new social justice author series! National bestselling author, columnist, and political commentator Steve Phillips talks about his new book How We Win the Civil War: Securing a Multiracial Democracy and Ending White Supremacy for Good. 

Phillips’ first book, Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority, was a New York Times bestseller and established Phillips as a powerful national voice. In his new book, he warns that the Confederates never stopped fighting the Civil War, that conservatives are taking full advantage of this reality, and that those in denial imperil our democracy. He then charts the way forward in the post-Trump era, arguing that progressives must recognize the true nature of the fight we’re in order to create a truly multiracial democracy and rid our politics of white supremacy, once and for all. 

This is the first of a new series supported by the All Souls Beckner Advancement Fund. We hope you’ll attend, and please invite others to join you! The first 40 in-person registrants receive a free copy of the book! 


UUMFE Biodiversity Day

May 10, 2023
7pm ET / 6pm CT / 5pm MT / 4pm PT

To celebrate International Biodiversity Day, join UUMFE to preview its new curriculum: “May You Survive and Thrive.” It is a multi-generational, arts-based family ministry curriculum designed to cultivate and sustain ecological awareness within and between congregations and communities. Join UUMFE to learn more about using this in your congregation, family, and community.

Defending Our Democracy

Fred Van Deusen, Democracy Action Team Convener (Democracy@uusj.org)


Democracy: Its Value and for Whom?

Friday, May 19, 7:30pm ET /  6:30pm CT / 5:30pm MT / 7pm ET
Online (and In-person) - Register
Co-sponsored by UUSJ 

A panel discussion titled Democracy: Its Value and for Whom? with four excellent speakers:
●    Danielle Allen, Harvard professor and founder of Partners in Democracy
●    Tania Vitvitsky, direct experience with the importance of democracy in Ukraine 
●    Tanisha Sullivan, President of Boston’s NAACP  
●    Jim Tull, an expert in international conflict management

Sponsored by First Parish in Concord Social Action, Reclaim Our Democracy, and the Democracy Action Team of UUSJ.

Meetings With House Staff On Democracy

In the last several weeks, the Democracy Action Team has been meeting with House staffers to determine what democracy legislation can move forward. The team had an informative conversation with three offices: 

  • Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), Ranking Member, House Committee on Rules, cosponsor of H.J. Res 13 and End Dark Money Act
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Member of the Jan. 6 Commission, sponsor of H.J. Res 13, and cosponsor of the End Dark Money Act
  • Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Co-Chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus and sponsor of the CLEAN Elections Act and the Restoring Faith in Elections Act

UUSJ had useful conversations with each office about the current situation in the House. Staff still consider it very early in this session of Congress and, at least for now, the Freedom Caucus members are driving what is being discussed.

Want To Join The Engagement With The House?

Email Fred Van Deusen, Democracy Action Team Convener at democracy@uusj.org.


Immigration Justice

Steve Eckstrand & Terry Grogan, Immigration Action Team Conveners (Immigration@uusj.org)

TPS For Afghans Reemerges

As legislators continue work towards the Afghan Adjustment Act (AAA), advocates renew requests to redesignate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Afghanistan. As part of the Evacuate Our Allies Coalition, UUSJ continues to engage the House in anticipation of the reintroduction of the AAA for the 118th Congress, helping to build bicameral and bipartisan support.

In March of 2022, DHS announced TPS for Afghanistan and opened the program in May 2022. After the designation was announced, the Biden administration continued evacuation efforts, resulting in thousands more Afghans entering the United States on temporary, humanitarian parole. Unlike earlier-arrived evacuees, these Afghans are not also eligible for TPS protections due to the cutoff date for continuous presence and residency in the U.S. (March 15, 2022). 

Thousands more at-risk Afghans have also sought protection at the United States’ southern border (Reuters) due to the breakdown of other pathways and because the evacuation was chaotic, insufficient, and ended in FY2022. See USCRI’s Policy Brief: Afghans Arriving via the Southern Border to learn more.

Faith Groups Ask to Redesignate TPS for Nicaragua

On April 20, 120 faith groups, UUSJ included, sent a letter to the Biden administration calling for the extension and redesignation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nicaragua nationals already living and working in the U.S. TPS is provided to those for whom it is unsafe to be returned to their home countries due to armed conflict, persecution, natural disaster, or other reasons.

See the full text of the letter sent by faith groups to the administration calling for the resignation of TPS for Nicaragua here.

Faith groups – spanning international, national, and local religious organizations – join growing calls (Politico) to redesignate TPS for Nicaragua in light of the country's worsening political, human rights, and environmental conditions. In recent years, many faith groups and civil society organizations, who have provided critical assistance to those in need in the country, have exited due to deteriorating conditions.

Opposing the Border Security and Enforcement Act of 2023

“Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice joins our immigrant-led, faith-based, and immigrant advocate allies to strongly encourage members of Congress to reject the Border Security and Enforcement Act of 2023. We ask members not to adopt the proposal. Our faith calls us to a higher standard of compassion and respect for every person's inherent worth and dignity. We implore members to heed the wisdom of similar teachings by many faiths,” said Pablo DeJesús, Executive Director, UUSJ. 

See the full statement of April 18, 2023, HERE.


Environmental and Climate Justice

To connect with UUSJ about the Environmental Action Team (info@uusj.org)

Biden Makes Moves For Environmental Justice

April 21, 2023, President Biden signed Executive Order 14096 on Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All, which mirrors several key priorities from the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act, of 2023

Watch the President’s remarks here (video), review a WH fact sheet here, and see WH-approved reactions here.

The Administration says the Executive Order will:

  • Deepen the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government commitment to environmental justice.
  • Better protect overburdened communities from pollution and environmental harm.
  • Strengthen engagement with communities and mobilize federal agencies to confront existing and legacy barriers and injustices.
  • Promote the latest science, data, and research, including cumulative impacts.
  • Expand interagency coordination and launch a new Office of Environmental Justice within the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
  • Increase accountability and transparency in federal environmental justice policy.
  • Honor and build on the foundation of ongoing environmental justice work.


Pressure Congress On The Environmental Justice For All Act

It is true Biden just signed an Executive Order, but those can be undone by the next President easily. Better if Congress can pass a law on these matters. 

Join UUSJ in applying pressure for the Environmental Justice Act of 2023 with our new action. Now is an opportunity to frame the issues and clarify principles.


Conservation and Regeneration: Fostering Resilience in the Farm Bill

Tuesday, May 2nd 
5pm ET / 4pm MT / 3pm CT / 2pm PT
Register here

Learn how to reform our farm programs to support the diversified farm operations that contribute to resilient soils and a healthy environment while holding abusive corporations accountable.


Why The Farm Bill Anyway

You may still ask why the big push for a Climate-Smart Farm Bill. You may wonder why the big ASK that faith groups engage in a meaningful way, not only along the traditional dimension of hunger but also along the dimension of the environment. 

The Energy and Ecology Working Group (EEWG), of the Washington Interfaith Staff Community (WISC), of which UUSJ is a participant, summarizes the basic context well (Fact Sheet):

  1. "Global food systems have massive economic, social, and environmental footprints, representing 31 to 37% of all Greenhouse Gas emissions – with this share expected to rise to 50% of the total by 2050 (source: Dr. Nicoletta Batini, 2021). Similarly, agriculture makes up 11-14% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. The Farm Bill is the best opportunity to achieve meaningful policy reforms in food and agricultural systems. The impact of our changing climate on agricultural land practices and food supply has changed attitudes since the last farm bill in 2018. [Advocates] can do things now that [we] couldn’t do 10 years ago. Farmers, ranchers, funding agencies, and Congress recognize, to varying degrees, that the climate is changing, and the impacts on our food supply are real. 
  3. Our faith voice is needed to ensure that ecologically sound practices, fairness, and equity will be included in the 2023 Farm Bill."

Consider these steps with UUSJ:

Review related content:

Economic Justice

To connect with UUSJ about Economic Justice (info@uusj.org)

Sojourner's Political Director, Lauren W. Reliford, MSW, delivers powerful and personal witness at the rally #CareNotCuts.


Tell Congress: No caps, cuts, or eligibility changes for human needs in the FY24 budget (and debt ceiling negotiations)

New Action Alert and Action Poster

With the ‘‘Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023 (H.R. 2811),” we see that human needs and community concerns have landed on the chopping block. Tell both chambers that we view budgets as moral documents, and urge them to reject proposals for caps, cuts, and eligibility changes.


#CareNotCuts Rally

On Wednesday, April 25, UUSJ joined interfaith partners and friends for a rally opposing the House debt-ceiling/spending cut bill at the Capitol. Speakers stressed that Congress should be responding to unmet needs, not making things worse. Check @UUSJ and #CareNotCuts to find coverage.

Alarmed by the ‘‘Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023 (H.R. 2811)” and its dramatic cuts, caps, and eligibility changes for anti-hunger, health, housing, early childhood, and other programs, faith advocates urged Members to reject the effort. Advocates argued the impulse to take away assistance from Americans with low incomes or impose administrative barriers that make it harder for people to access needed assistance would have a deleterious effect. (Moody’s Analytics economist Mark Zandi and colleagues warned in March 2023 that deep spending cuts could trigger "a recession in 2024, costing the economy 2.6 million jobs at the worst of the downturn and pushing unemployment to a peak of nearly 6 percent.")

More than that, advocates characterized the approach as harkening back to prior era politics, when Congress was all too willing to blame or demonize people of low income that the proposal will wreak havoc for vulnerable populations served by these programs.

Check the U.S. House of Representatives, Clerk’s Roll Call 199 to see if your Representative was among the 217 yea votes or the 215 nay votes.


McCarthy Bill Uses Debt Ceiling to Force Harmful Policies, Deep Cuts, CBPP


"Love in the Time of"... Caps, cuts, and debt ceiling negotiations


Shop Talk:


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