Tuesday, April 20, 2021
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Virginia Interfaith Center Urges Senate Republicans to Consider “Moral Imperative” of...

The economic case for Medicaid expansion is crystal clear. As is the case for improving the health of 400,000 Virginians. As an added bonus, the...

The Quest for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

What a difference a year makes. This time last year there was a sense that comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level may happen in some form. It would be sweeping and, like any compromise, not exactly what everyone wanted. Now we have something worse: only the noise of recrimination.

The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) met last year to map out the values and principles held by Virginians and provide a voice to Congress. But now what since reform appears dead in the water? Well, during the Obama administration, more than 2 million mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children have been deported; more deportations than in any previous administration. That number is hard to wrap your head around and does not convey the individual personal tragedies involved. For example, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reports 72,410 of those deported said that they had one or more U.S. born children. Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens, then, have had their parents deported. So the VACIR has changed its tact and directed its energy toward pressuring the Obama administration to act since the House of Representatives has failed in its responsibilities. They are also looking at ways state legislators can address the issues.

11% of Virginians were born outside the United States. They, like all Virginians, need the tools and opportunities necessary to build strong families, healthy communities, and a culturally and economically thriving Virginia. For now VACIR is focused on four key areas:

Where do we even begin with Federal reform? The well is poisoned. I will disclose that my bias on this matter begins and ends with the Republican Party, Ronald Reagan, Simpson-Mazzoli, and close personal experiences with immigration and naturalization. Some 3 million immigrants were granted amnesty in 1986. That is the precedent that those who are angry should focus on when crying about today's "failed policies." And the fact is that the reason for the current flood is not anything President Obama has done but a more pedestrian cause: it's the economy stupid; the economy in Honduras, El Salvador and the rest of Central and South America. Places where we meddled, then abandoned; the spawn of Ronald Reagan's foreign policy abetted by Ollie North and "company."

Key Faith Group to Mobilize Members Behind Keeping Virginia’s Uranium Mining...

Virginia's oldest faith-based advocacy group has announced it will put its weight behind keeping Virginia's ban on uranium mining:
Officials at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy say they will be mobilizing activists across the state to lobby the General Assembly to continue a moratorium on uranium mining in the state.

Trieste Lockwood, director of the group's power and light program, said that mining could harm drinking water, residents' health and the economy by damaging agricultural, tourism and fishing industries if there is an accident.

Tests indicate that about 119 million pounds of uranium are located in Coles Hill, near Chatham, a small town in Pittsylvania County. A company pushing to mine the uranium, Virginia Uranium, says that it could be worth as much as $10 billion.

"The financial gain of one corporation is really simply not worth the longterm risks to so many people," Lockwood said.

And what about the review of existing data some skittish General Assembly members say they're waiting for before making any decisions?
"We do not believe an unbiased study exists that suggests uranium is no longer radioactive and no longer has severe health consequences," she said.
For more on why Virginia's uranium mining ban is just as necessary today as it was when first implemented decades ago, check out KeepTheBan.org or read this excellent article by the Virginia Sierra Club's Mary Rafferty.  

VIC: Don’t Fall for ABC Sale


I don't have to wonder any longer where at least part of the faith-based community stands on Bob  McDonnell's rush to privatize Virginia's ABC stores. The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, Virginia's oldest nonpartisan, faith-based advocacy group, has issued a report "Off the Wagon: Why ABC Privatization Is a Bad Idea."

Using a series of questions and answers, the report makes the case that it would be an extremely  bad idea, both socially and from a fiscal point of view, to change the present state system in Virginia by selling off the wholesale and retail ABC businesses.

One of the arguments being made by McDonnell and the other worshippers at the altar of the free market is that privatization will result in lower prices and greater variety for the consumer. Results in states that have privatized liquor prove otherwise. In Iowa, where liquor sales were privatized in 1987, it only took one year for prices to increase six percent. In 1981, three years after privatization, voters in Alabama decided to return to state stores because of price increases and the loss of available brands of liquor.

Noting that the ABC system is a "well-run agency that is a consistent source of revenue" for the Commonwealth and that privatizing sales will "disproportionately affect lower income and minority communities" with the social problems that will come from more than tripling the access to liquor and the consequent difficulty in controlling legal access, the VIC says, "Don't do it."