Obama

NY's Human Stake: Immigration Reform & State Of The Union

But there is no doubt about it, according to Jim Wallis, founder of the faith in action group Sojourners. "I think he will raise this tonight,” Wallis says. “It's a high priority for the president, and I think it's a social movement now. “Doing something right, doing something for the common good and doing it together – I think that's very possible now." Wallis says he expects the faith community in New York and the nation to play an even greater role this year, and he believes a comprehensive immigration reform plan will be passed in the next six months.

Long Elusive Immigration Reform Faces Narrow Path Forward In Congress

Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, a Christian social-justice organization, is convinced that reform is inevitable. “Immigration reform is going to pass — there’s no doubt about that. We’re not going to deport 11 million people,” he said. “The question is, how much longer must we wait, and how much more suffering will be inflicted on so many more people?” The next weeks and months will be filled with renewed activity, as a coalition of law-enforcement officials, the faith community and business and labor groups come together to get reform across the finish line, he said. “Washington, D.C., is the most dysfunctional city in the country. We’re known for our political conflict. Immigration reform has the chance to really be an exception — an exception to our practices of political conflict,” he added. “We’ll fix our politics by fixing our broken immigration system.”

White House Tries A Kinder, Gentler Approach To Achieving Immigration Reform

“You’re not going to see the president talking critically or negatively about Republicans on an issue like this when he wants to see this happen,” said Jim Wallis, president of the Christian social-justice organization Sojourners. “They’re not looking for conflict here, they are looking for cooperation and collaboration.”

What Good Is a Bridge If We Never Cross It?

Rebell/Shutterstock

What good is a bridge if we never cross it? Rebell/Shutterstock

Energy policy and climate change action are inexorably linked, like two oxen in a yoke.

The trouble with this set-up is that while climate action tends to look straight ahead, energy policy is apt to veer off on any number of paths, some of them quite well-meaning, like job growth or “energy independence.”

Last night’s State of the Union address by President Obama was, I’m afraid, one such experience for climate action, which compared to the huge bull of energy issues is a yearling at best. The yoke between energy and climate did get mentioned by the president, but the yoke pressed toward economic growth, the paradigm which many argue is responsible for our ecological crisis in the first place.  It’s enough to strain a vertebra. 

5 Myths About Minimum Wage

J.Simunek/Shutterstock

A common myth regarding raising minimum wage is that it's bad for the economy. J.Simunek/Shutterstock

It’s a new year, and Congress is back in session.

One of the top issues expected to be debated in 2014 is a hike to the federal minimum wage. 13 states have instituted wage increases. President Obama has supported raising the minimum wage throughout his presidency. Most recently, he shared his approval of new legislation proposed by Sen. Tom Harkin and George Miller (D-Calif.) that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10, up from it’s current $7.25. 

Critics of the Harkin/Miller bill are quick to decry any wage increase. The usual arguments are trotted out to combat progressive pay for low-wage earners. Here are five commonly perpetuated myths about minimum wage. Hopefully, their exploration will shed a more accurate light on this contested issue.

Unemployment, the Vote, and Hope

Lisa Sharon Harper/Sojourners

President Obama speaks after the Senate cleared a three-month extension of Unemployment benefits. Lisa Sharon Harper/Sojourners

I stood in line and waited until they called my number.

“Neeeext,” the woman behind the counter called!

The woman put out an energy that dared anyone to cross her, challenge her, even speak to her. She gave me a pile of papers to fill out “over there,” she waved her hands dismissively in the general direction of all the other losers sitting in rows of old school desks — the kind where the chair and the desk are attached. They were all fully engrossed in one task: filling out their unemployment insurance applications. I joined them.

Of course we weren’t losers, but it felt like we were. We were grown adults. We represented many races: white, black, Latino, and Asian. We represented a small fraction of the sea of people who were out of work at the height of the economic crisis. If you had come to us only weeks before we were school teachers and firemen, opera singers, Wall Street brokers, and justice advocates (like me). But now we were all numbers, experiencing the same humiliating moment together.

But, how much more humiliating it would have been to be thrown out of my apartment? How much more dehumanizing would it have been to become homeless or go without food?

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