OGR Blog

September 28, 2020

A Comprehensive and Universal Healthcare Program

The Church supports comprehensive health care and recognizes the need for universal and equitable access for all. General Convention urges Episcopalians to advocate for adequate health care, along with nutrition and housing, as human rights that should be provided to all those residing in our nation, including veterans. This advocacy on a number of healthcare policy asks is viewed as a Church ministry and as a way to promote healthy American communities.

Recent Church policies urging the development of healthcare programs builds upon a history going back decades, which includes advocacy and education on HIV/AIDS. In 2000, General Convention asked Episcopalians to advocate for a healthcare system that guarantees decent and appropriate primary healthcare. More recently, the Church has urged Episcopalians to contact federal, state, and local elected officials to create a comprehensive definition of basic healthcare, establish a system to provide this basic care for all, and create an independent oversight mechanism to audit the delivery of that basic healthcare.

In 2009, the Church specifically urged the passage of a “single payer” universal healthcare program via federal legislation and supported work to realize the goal of universal health care coverage. General Convention further directed the Office of Government Relations to research the healthcare policy options and to pursue short-term incremental and innovative approaches to universal health care as the country works toward the goal of a “single payer” program.

General Convention also supports policy measures particularly for protecting low-income individuals and families. The Church has affirmed its support for the full and adequate funding of social safety net programs including Medicaid and Medicare which help to address the health care needs of vulnerable populations and has called on the U.S. government to preserve and protect these essential programs. Additionally, The Episcopal Church opposes proposals that limit benefit funding to block grants, cut off new enrollment of income-eligible people irrespective of their needs, and stipulate that people who lose eligibility cannot re-enroll. Specifically, Episcopalians and dioceses in the states that did not accept the Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansion are urged to advocate to their state officials to accept this benefit and federal funding for their constituents.

General Convention further urges Episcopalians to advocate for addressing the specific health care needs of women and girls. This includes urging adequate government funding and support for research and development, and prevention and treatment of matters that affect the health and quality of the lives of women including domestic violence, contraceptives, HIV/AIDS, cancer, maternity care, and other chronic illnesses prevalent among women. More on equitable access to women’s healthcare is further articulated in our summary of General Convention policies on Abortion and Women’s Reproductive Health.

In 2018, General Convention reaffirmed its prior commitment to ensure quality pre-natal care is available for all to address concerns of increased rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, especially among low-income women and women of color. General Convention has voiced its support for diocesan advocacy efforts for women to have the right to safe and available natal healthcare to enable healthy pregnancies and overall maternal well-being. The Office of Government Relations is asked to ensure safe and respectful maternal health care be recognized as human right throughout the U.S. and to urge state governments adopt a human-rights based approach to ensuring safe pregnancy and childbirth.  

Healthcare Advocacy

EPPN alerts on COVID-19 legislation including healthcare:

EPPN: Support the CARE Act to respond to the opioid crisis (October 2019)

EPPN: Tell Congress to protect children’s health care (October 2017)

EPPN: Tell your senators to protect health care (September 2017)

EPPN: Congress Votes on Health Care Tomorrow, Make Your Voice Heard (March 2017)

EPPN: Ensuring Health Care for all (January 2017)

Letter to Senate Supporting the Church Health Plan Act of 2013 (September 2013)

Interfaith Push to Fix Affordable Care Act Church-Specific Glitch (September 2013)

Episcopal Health Group Recognized for Affordable Care Act Advocacy (September 2013)

Episcopal Public Policy Network Urges Opposition to Health-care Reform Repeal (January 2011)

Vote for Health Care Now - Final Push (March 2010)

EPPN urges action on health-care reform (November 2009)

Tell Congress -- Don't Leave Town without Passing Health Care Reform! (July 2009)

Racial Disparities in Healthcare

As with other issues, the Office of Government Relations strives to consider the racial justice and racial healing aspects of a given policy. The Church acknowledges racial disparity in quality of health care exists throughout the U.S. Notably, the Church recognizes discrepancies in levels of care and treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS, the lack of access to accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of marginalized racial communities in substance use disorders, and the tragic disparity in maternal health care that has resulted from discrimination in pre- and post-natal maternal health care for impoverished women and women of color. Most recently, the racial disparities in quality of health care can be seen in the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had among communities of color across the United States, especially among Indigenous communities, further necessitating action to solve this crisis. The Episcopal Church has recognized the challenges facing Indigenous communities even prior to COVID-19, as these communities experience increasing disparities in health, healthcare, and quality of life.   

Episcopal Church on Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Addiction and Treatment

The Church, recognizing the breadth and impact addiction has calls upon dioceses to provide educational programs to congregations on recent advances in addition treatment and to address problems related to dependency within the Church. The Church recognizes its previous long-standing tolerance for the use of alcohol and has since committed to creating a new normal in its relationship with alcohol. In doing so, the Church hopes to be a place in which difficult conversations on alcohol and addiction are not simply focused on treatment, but also include renewal, justice, wholeness, and healing. The Church has also committed to combatting alcoholism outside of church settings, by providing funds for alcoholism programs.

In 2018, Convention called upon dioceses to respond to the ongoing epidemic of opioid addiction by partnering with first responders and others in the medical and faith community to hold trainings on administering first aid when overdoses occur and providing pastoral care for those affected. The Church urges the federal government to address this epidemic as a public health crisis, affirming opioid use disorder as a disease, which will require adequate resources so those affected are able to be effectively treated.

Episcopal Views on Mental Health

For decades, The Episcopal Church has been dedicated to supporting those in need of mental health care. One of the Church’s first actions to support those with mental illness was through ministry to those experiencing homelessness who are also struggle with mental illnesses. This support has evolved as the Church increases its understanding of mental illness via educational material and the adoption of best practices for the inclusion, support, and spiritual care for those with mental illness. In 2018, the Church created a task force to further its commitment to persons with mental illnesses and their families.

To address mental health and illness, The Episcopal Church encourages its members to become more knowledgeable on the subject in order to reduce stigma and stereotypes. A part of that work includes becoming an advocate for public policy and adequate public funding for comprehensive community-based services, hospital care, and research of the causes and treatments of mental illnesses.

 

A Comprehensive and Universal Healthcare Program The Church supports comprehensive health care and recognizes the need for universal and equitable access for all. General Convention urges Episcopalians to advocate for adequate health care, along...
September 23, 2020

Challenges to Voter Access

The previous installment of the EPPN Election Series focused on all the ways citizens can access the ballot. Between mail-in voting, in-person early voting, and voting on election day, the states provide a variety of methods for folks to cast their vote. Yet obstacles still hinder some voters on their path to the ballot box. Many of these barriers are the result of either deliberate or non-deliberate policy decisions designed to limit certain voters’ ability to cast a ballot. Either way, these stubbornly persistent barriers deter tens of millions of Americans from the polls.

Strict Voter I.D. Laws

Most states require voters to provide some type of proof of identity when they present themselves at the polling place. Yet the types of I.D. permitted vary greatly from state to state. Some states will accept forms of non-photo I.D., such as a voter card or a billing statement. Others will only accept a form of government-issued I.D., such as a driver’s license or a passport. Many people question why a strict photo I.D. requirement could lead to voter suppression. They also question why some states permit forms of non-photo I.D. to verify a voter’s identity. Everyone has a photo I.D., right? What’s the big deal?

Well, as it happens, not everyone does have a government-issued photo I.D. People in marginalized communities, including low-income folks, ethnic minorities, and immigrants often lack government I.D. and have difficulty obtaining it. Those of us who have means may think this is unreasonable, but when you consider the cost, time, and complication of accessing I.D. services for low-income people, people with disabilities, and those who live in rural communities it becomes clear how a strict photo I.D. requirement could discourage some American citizens from voting.

Even when voters have a form of photo I.D. the way the rules are written can often favor I.D.’s disproportionately held by some groups and disqualify those held by others. For instance, Texas accepts concealed carry permits, but will turn away a college student with a photo I.D. from one of the Lone Star State’s very own public universities.

These laws also uniquely impact Indigenous Americans. North Dakota, for instance, is the only state that doesn’t require citizens to register before they vote. Yet in 2017 the state legislature passed a voter I.D. law requiring voters to have a physical address in order to vote. Many Indigenous people who live on reservations do not have a physical address, and the State of North Dakota failed to provide many of them with one. There were also failures in communication regarding exactly what some of the newly assigned addresses were, and some people were assigned multiple addresses.

Some may question how our elections can be secure without voter I.D. laws. As our piece last week on the integrity of the election process noted, impersonation voter fraud is practically nonexistent, which makes strict voter I.D. laws at the very least redundant to existing security measures and at the very worst an unnecessary deterrent keeping eligible U.S. citizens from exercising their right to cast a ballot.

Purging the Rolls and Closing the Polls

Updating voting rolls is a routine part of election administration, and the exact rules about what names get purged and why vary from state to state. People die, or move, on a regular basis, so it is entirely appropriate for election officials to purge the dead and former residents from their polls.

However, the way election officials go about roll purges and location changes can often disproportionately impact marginalized people. There are enough examples of eligible voters who turn up at the polls only to learn that they had been unfairly purged from the rolls to indicate that this practice is misused in a way that suppresses voter turnout. Since most states have registration deadlines weeks before election day, these purges can be devastating to voters who do not know they have been purged. This highlights how important it is that all potential voters verify their registration with their state election office each election cycle, even if they know they are already registered.

Changing polling locations is also a routine part of election administration. There are many legitimate reasons for polling venues to be changed. If the local elementary school is no longer available as a polling place, it is usually just fine for the polling place to switch to the parish hall of the neighborhood Episcopal church!

Yet polling location changes can also disproportionately impact marginalized communities. When polling places are closed or moved farther away in a particular precinct, this distance creates a barrier to people in that area casting their vote who may not have the means to travel that far or cannot afford to give up more time at work or with child care by traveling to a more distant location. It is also worth noting here that the reduction of early voting options and reduced voting hours also play a similar role in suppressing the vote.

Keeping Former Felons from Voting

Fortunately, most states immediately restore voting rights to former felons when their incarceration ends (Maine and Vermont are the only states that never disfranchise any of their citizens, including their incarcerated citizens). Nonetheless, several states continue to disfranchise former felons after they leave state custody. The most high-profile example of this is Florida, where until 2018 former felons were permanently disfranchised, unless former felons petitioned a panel of the four statewide constitutional officers (the governor, the attorney general, the chief financial officer, and the commissioner of agriculture) to restore their voting rights.

At the 2018 election, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment automatically restoring former felons’ voting rights once the terms of their sentences had been served. This move was undermined, however, when the state legislature then passed legislation that interpreted “terms of their sentences” to mean not just the time former felons had spent in prison and on parole, but also any fines or restitution associated with their sentences. This legislation effectively meant that an overwhelming majority of former felons who would otherwise be eligible to vote will continue to be disfranchised, owing to the fact that hardly any felons have large sums of money sitting around that they can pay in restitution to their victims. The State of Florida also often has no way of telling former felons exactly what it is they owe. It seems clear that this legislation was designed to circumvent the clear will of the Florida voters, who approved the constitutional amendment with more than 60 percent of the vote.

The bottom line is this: former felons should be allowed to vote as soon as they are no longer incarcerated and making the franchise conditional based upon payment of fines or fees amounts to a poll tax, which the Constitution explicitly prohibits.

What Can Be Done?

The problems of voter access can seem overwhelming and insurmountable, but that is not the case. Congress has proposed fixes to solve the problem of voter suppression and ensure every eligible American citizen can easily and conveniently cast their ballot. On December 6, 2019 the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Enhancement Act. This legislation would address the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision, which invalidated the key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act by creating a new formula that applies the provisions of the Act to all 50 states and updates the criteria by which the “preclearance” provision would apply to a jurisdiction. The John Lewis Voting Rights Enhancement Act would restore federal oversight that could interrupt efforts to stifle the voting process for eligible citizens.

Prior to the Shelby decision all the states of the former Confederacy, which contain fully half of the U.S. African American population, were at least partially covered by the Voting Rights Act, guaranteeing that African American citizens were protected from voter suppression measures. The Act also covered Arizona, a state with a large population of both Hispanic and Indigenous Americans, and Alaska, a state with a substantial Indigenous population. Since the Shelby decision these states have had a free hand to limit access to the polls without federal oversight.

Many voters will look at the methods used to suppress the vote and see them as causes to despair. The good news is that there are many ways to push back against these trends. We can help voters navigate around these barriers to ensure that every Americans’ voice is heard. We can support legislation to address the problems raised by voter suppression We can look to The Episcopal Church’s Civic Engagement resources to find concrete ways to improve our democratic system. Democracy is much too precious to allow barriers to voting to throw us off.

Challenges to Voter Access The previous installment of the EPPN Election Series focused on all the ways citizens can access the ballot. Between mail-in voting, in-person early voting, and voting on election day, the states provide a variety of...
September 22, 2020

National Voter Registration Day!

Voting is how a community or a nation decides how the moral values that it holds and shares shape public policy and the lives of people.” -Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

To exercise this basic right, you must be registered to vote! The Episcopal Church is partnering with National Voter Registration Day, a nonpartisan civic holiday celebrating U.S. democracy, to ask YOU to register to vote and encourage others to do so too.

  • Register to Vote: It’s simple, it’s free, and it’s secure. If online voter registration is not available in your state or if it doesn’t work for you, you can easily start the process online no matter where you live.
  • Check Your Registration Status: Think you’re already registered? Double check to make sure—moving, changing your name, becoming a citizen, and more could all be reasons you need to update your registration.
  • Attend a National Voter Registration Day Event
  • Spread the Word: Once you make sure you’re registered, forward this email to a friend, ask them to join you and use #NationalVoterRegistrationDay and #VoteReady in all of your social media posts.
  • Plan Your Vote: Already registered? Follow through by creating your plan to cast your vote in this year’s election.

Why We Celebrate National Voter Registration Day...

There is an information gap that prevents voting-eligible citizens from getting registered to vote, casting a ballot, and having their voices heard in our democracy. Voters need to register or update their registration for reasons such as moving to a new address, turning 18, becoming a citizen, or changing their names. Many Americans are unaware of this need and miss deadlines in their states that prevent them from voting.

Those who have voted know the excitement of wearing an “I Voted” sticker! Get ready to post about your participation by asking for an “I’m an Episcopalian and I Voted” sticker or magnet today!

I'm an Episcopalian and I voted! #Votefaithfully

Happy Voting!

Alan Yarborough
Church Relations Officer
Office of Government Relations

National Voter Registration Day! “Voting is how a community or a nation decides how the moral values that it holds and shares shape public policy and the lives of people.” -Presiding Bishop Michael Curry To exercise this basic right, you must be...
September 16, 2020

The 2020 presidential election, now less than two months away, has given rise to much anxiety and concern among voters about the integrity of the process. Many Americans worry that their mail-in ballot will not arrive in time, or that the process is rigged in favor of one party or the other. People are also concerned about their own health and safety of voting in-person during a worldwide pandemic, something the U.S. has not done in 100 years. Add on top of that concerns about foreign interference in America’s democratic system and you have a perfect recipe for widespread panic. 

While there are legitimate concerns about election integrity, the basic reality is that the United States, to a remarkable degree given our size and the diversity of our election systems, has election processes that are difficult to defraud or manipulate. In short, the election process itself is very likely to be straightforward and fair, up and down the ballot. That does not mean there won’t be issues relating to voting access or voter disenfranchisement, such as ensuring the formerly incarcerated have the right to do so where state laws allow, and voter suppression. We should also expect delays in results this year, due to the high number of mail-in ballots. We will address these issues in more detail in the coming weeks. But the American people should absolutely have confidence in the way this country’s elections are run. Equipping ourselves with an understanding of how the process works and the role we play will help us navigate the surrounding uncertainty with more confidence.

During a pandemic, how can I remain safe from COVID-19 as I vote? 

Voters are rightly concerned about maintaining their health and safety as they go to the polls this election season. Fortunately, there are many ways voters can ensure they remain socially distanced and avoid large crowds as they exercise their franchise. If you interact with others in the process of casting your vote, please wear a proper face mask to protect others. Poll workers across the country are being equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) for their own protection and the protection of the voting public. 

Vote by Mail 

Voting by mail is the easiest way to remain safe from COVID-19 while casting your vote. Many states allow voters to request a mail-in ballot for any reason. Indeed, according to New York Times analysis, more than 80 million Americans will cast their vote via mail, more than double the number that did so in 2016.  

The specific details for requesting a mail-in ballot vary by state, but you can visit FiveThirtyEight to access a handy guide to obtaining a mail-in ballot in your state. 

Mail-in voters should remember a couple of things:  

  • Once you receive your ballot, read and follow the instructions precisely. States have security protocols that will invalidate your ballot if you do not follow the instructions to the letter.  
  • If your state requires you to fill out your ballot using black ink, use black ink.  
  • If your state requires your signature to match the signature on your driver’s license, then sign your ballot as you signed your driver’s license.  
  • Some states have also rejected mail-in ballots because the voter sealed the envelope with tape. Err on the side of not taping your envelope. If you don’t want to lick the envelope, use a wet sponge to seal it instead. 

Some voters are also concerned about slowdowns with the U.S. Postal Service. This should not be an issue if you receive your ballot many weeks before Election Day and post it as quickly as possible. Most states also allow voters to track their ballot online to ensure it has been returned and accepted.  

However, if you do not want to chance sending your ballot through the post, you are able to hand-deliver it to your local election office. The name and address of your local election office should be printed on your ballot. (The precise name of the body that handles elections in your municipality will vary depending on your state. If you aren’t sure who handles elections in your municipality, please visit the website of your state election office to determine where to return your ballot.) Some communities will have designated drop-off boxes voters can use to return their ballots. Every state allows voters to return their ballots to the election office and hand it to a member of the election office staff. Regardless of the ballot return method you choose, it is imperative that you return your mail-in ballot as soon as possible before Election Day.  

In-Person Early Voting 

Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia allow in-person early voting prior to Election Day. Nine states - Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina - currently do not offer pre-Election Day in-person voting options, so if you live in one of those states you do not have to read this section! 

The rules for early voting vary greatly from state to state. Some states open early voting many weeks before Election Day. Others don’t start early voting until as late as the weekend before Election Day. It is essential that voters investigate the details of early voting in their states. Some states, for instance, centralize early voting in a few locations, rather than opening the hundreds of polling places that will be available on Election Day itself. Equipping yourself with information about the early voting process in your state will help you decide if this option is for you. 

If you live in an early-voting state and are worried about long lines on Election Day itself, early voting is a great option to reduce the potential for crowds. We encourage you to visit the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures, where you can access a handy guide to early voting across the nation. 

In-Person Voting on Election Day 

If you don’t decide to vote early or by mail, the polls will be open at your local precinct on Election Day. Some states are also increasing the number of “voting centers” as locations to cast votes, register, drop off ballots, and get voter information. You may have heard about professional sports leagues coordinating the use of stadiums and coliseums for this effort.  

Precinct hours vary from state to state, but the window of opportunity to vote will be wide open on Tuesday, November 3rd. States have a wide variety of regulations regarding requirements such as voter I.D., registration deadlines, and the like. If you have government-issued photo identification of some kind (driver’s license, U.S. passport, etc...), it is probably best to bring it with you to the polls on Election Day. Some states allow forms of non-photo I.D. to be used as well. USA.gov has a handy guide you can consult to learn about all the requirements for voting in-person on Election Day. 

Election Integrity: Ensuring a Clean Election 

There are many politicians and pundits in our public discourse warning that the election may be open to fraud due to the large number of people expected to vote by mail. This concern is unfounded. Even though tens of millions of Americans will vote in November, the chances of any sort of large-scale voter fraud are minuscule. There are several reasons why. 

Voter Fraud Is Difficult to Pull Off 

Contrary to popular belief, U.S. election officials have instituted safeguards that make it exceedingly difficult to successfully execute fraudulent voting and exceedingly easy to detect any funny business. Such protective measures are multi-layered, ensuring the security of our election. For example, some have cast suspicion of nefarious actors printing fake ballots to send into voting precincts. Mail-in ballots are printed on special stock not commercially available, making it nearly impossible for malevolent actors to print fake ballots. Each ballot has a unique barcode that election officials will scan to ensure voters cannot vote more than once. Americans can rest easy: stringent safeguards already exist to ensure fraudsters cannot successfully sway elections. 

In-person Voter Fraud is Essentially Non-existent 

In the last decade and a half many states have implemented photo voter I.D. laws with the stated purpose of preventing voter impersonation fraud. While requiring voters to prove their identity when they show up to vote may have some merit, the problem of in-person voter fraud really doesn’t exist. This type of voter fraud is exceedingly rare because it is, frankly, a clunky, inefficient way to attempt to steal an election.  

Voter Fraud in General is Essentially Non-existent 

In fact, VERY FEW people ever attempt to steal elections in this country by circumnavigating election security measures. Attempting to steal elections is so difficult, the rewards so minimal, and the cost of getting caught so high that hardly anyone bothers. This inventory produced by the Brennan Center for Justice catalogues a wide array of academic studies that attest to the fact that voter fraud hardly ever happens. Indeed, many instances of what we would consider “voter fraud” are examples of voter *mistakes* - someone unintentionally voting in the wrong precinct, or a former felon mistakenly thinking they are permitted to vote when they aren’t, things of that nature.  

The Bottom Line: There are many good reasons to be confident in the U.S. election process.  

It is easy to get swept up in the confusion and disinformation that exists regarding America’s electoral processes, but voters should generally have faith in the system. Safeguards exist to both detect and deter electoral fraud. Most states have flexible voting options that will protect voters from the risk of COVID-19 infection. The important thing now is for you, the voter, to educate yourself about the voting options in your community, make a plan for how you are going to vote, and then get out there and vote. Democracy does not work without an informed citizenry. Now let’s go out to the polls and #VoteFaithfully. 

Stay tuned next week for our piece on barriers to voting. 

The 2020 presidential election, now less than two months away, has given rise to much anxiety and concern among voters about the integrity of the process. Many Americans worry that their mail-in ballot will not arrive in time, or that the process...
September 11, 2020

Publicado originalmente el 2 de abril de 2020 en inglés

Introducción

Puede ser atractivo pensar que el híper partidista, engañoso y absolutamente falso contenido que induce el miedo y es omnipresente hoy es un problema exclusivamente moderno. Sin embargo, durante miles de años, nuestros antepasados judíos y cristianos han enseñado que el engaño es tan antiguo como la humanidad misma. En Génesis 3 la serpiente manipula a Eva a través de una serie de declaraciones engañosas y medias verdades para comer la fruta prohibida. Luego hace que Adam haga lo mismo ofreciéndole la opción a través de una fuente confiable. ¿Suena como algo que haya cruzado recientemente sus redes sociales?

Como cristianos, no estamos llamados a una vida de medias verdades y engaños. Estamos llamados a seguir a un Dios que es "el camino, la verdad y la vida" (John 14:6). El Libro de Oración Común también enseña que entre nuestros deberes con nuestros vecinos está "ser honestos y justos en nuestros tratos" y "decir la verdad y no engañar a los demás con nuestro silencio". (pg. 848) Por lo tanto, examinemos nuestra propia conducta para limitar la difusión de información engañosa y exhortemos a nuestros líderes a trabajar en pos de la misma.

La rápida expansión de la digitalización y las plataformas en línea ha permitido que los contenidos engañosos se difundan más rápidamente y se disfracen de manera más eficaz. La organización sin fines de lucro First Draft News tiene lenguaje excelente que describe cómo se ve la manipulación de información hoy:

"El término ‘fake news’ no comienza a cubrir todo esto. La mayor parte de este contenido ni siquiera es falso; a menudo es genuino, usado fuera de contexto y armado por personas que saben que es más probable que se crean y se compartan las falsedades basadas en un núcleo de verdad. Y la mayor parte de esto no se puede describir como "noticias". Son buenos rumores pasados de moda, son memes, son videos manipulados y "anuncios oscuros" hiperorientados y fotos antiguas que se vuelven a compartir como nuevas.

En First Draft, recomendamos el uso de los términos más apropiados para el tipo de contenido; ya sea propaganda, mentiras, conspiraciones, rumores, engaños, contenido híper partidista, falsedades o medios manipulados. También preferimos utilizar los términos desinformación, información errónea o información maliciosa. Colectivamente, lo llamamos desorden de la información ".

Tabla de contenido

  • Definiciones
  • Comprender el desorden de la información y las campañas de desinformación
  • ¿Quién crea y difunde la información errónea?
  • Sobre las elecciones
  • ¿Qué puedo hacer?
  • Otras cosas a considerar
  • Recursos adicionales
  • Resoluciones de la Convención General y el Consejo Ejecutivo
  • Sobre el censo de EE. UU. 2020
  • En COVID-19
  • Sobre los peligros de la desinformación patrocinada por el gobierno
  • Sobre vacunas
  • Sobre el cambio climático
  • Conclusión: buscando la verdad

Definiciones

Desorden de la información: término acuñado por First Draft News para abarcar el espectro de misinformación, mala información y desinformación
Información errónea: contenido falso y la persona que comparte no se da cuenta de que es falso o engañoso.
Información maliciosa: información genuina compartida con la intención de causar daño.
Desinformación: contenido compartido que es intencionalmente falso y / o engañoso y diseñado para causar daño.
Ciberseguridad social: la ciencia de caracterizar, comprender y pronosticar cambios mediados cibernéticamente en el comportamiento humano, los resultados sociales, culturales y políticos.

Alguna desinformación es completamente falsa y inventada, como este artículo de “noticias” afirmando que el Papa Francisco tiene coronavirus. Como señala este usuario de Twitter, el dominio se registró hace varios años en China y cambió repentinamente unos días antes.

Fuente: https://twitter.com/cindyotis_/status/1233771696462684161

Se pueden utilizar los bots para amplificar los mensajes marginales a las audiencias principales. Trolls rusos, bots sofisticados y "contaminadores de contenido"  tuitean sobre vacunas y mensajes antivacunas como este a tasas significativamente más altas que los usuarios medios. Se estima que el 25% de los tuits de negación climática son propagados por los bots.

Un ejemplo particular de preocupación se trata de servicios rusos de inteligencia que utilizaban publicidad pagada durante las elecciones estadounidenses de 2016 y que enviaron a diferentes audiencias diferentes mensajes dirigidos. Si bien los gobiernos nacionales han utilizado durante mucho tiempo información errónea contra los enemigos, las redes sociales han cambiado fundamentalmente el ámbito y el alcance de estas campañas. El objetivo de los anuncios era ampliar las divisiones existentes en EE. UU., no simplemente promover mensajes contradictorios.  El uso notable de lenguaje e imágenes inflamatorios y los nombres deliberadamente engañosos de las páginas de Facebook contribuyeron a la confusión — no hay nada que demuestra que estos anuncios hayan sido pagados por actores extranjeros.

Fuente: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/business/russian-ads-facebo...

Comprensión del desorden de la información y las campañas de desinformación

Aproximadamente 4 de cada 10 estadounidenses dicen que a menudo se encuentran con noticias e información inventadas. Aunque el campo emergente de ciberseguridad social apenas está comenzando a medir cómo el desorden de la información afecta a las personas y la sociedad, tenemos una comprensión bastante buena de cómo se difunde la información manipulada.

Las campañas de desinformación se diseñan deliberadamente para difundir información falsa o engañosa. Sin embargo, es posible que el mensaje de la campaña en sí no sea el objetivo real. Una táctica común es primero identificar dos grupos a favor y en contra de un tema divisivo (el aborto, las vacunas, el cambio climático y la ideología política son ejemplos excelentes). Una campaña de desinformación eficaz se infiltraría en ambos lados, respaldando a los líderes del grupo y ayudando a desarrollar cualidades de una caja de resonancia en el grupo. En cajas de resonancia, los miembros del grupo marginan la información externa, transmiten información interna extremadamente rápido y tomar decisiones basadas en la emoción y "lo que todos saben". Las campañas utilizan esta toma de decisiones basada en la emoción para incitar sentimientos como consternación o entusiasmo en ambos grupos, y luego enfrentan a los dos lados el uno con el otro. En última instancia, ambos sufren de una falta de comunicación entre temas y pierden aún más la confianza en "el otro", en resumen, agrandando la división entre los dos lados.

Los investigadores están extremadamente preocupados porque las campañas de desinformación socavan los procesos democráticos fomentando la duda y desestabilizando los puntos comunes que las sociedades democráticas requieren. “[Es como] escuchando estática a través de los audífonos,” dice la Dra. Kate Starbird, profesora de la Universidad de Washington. “Está diseñado para abrumar nuestra capacidad de dar sentido a la información, para hacernos pensar que la respuesta más saludable es desconectarnos. Y es posible que tengamos dificultades viendo el problema cuando el contenido se alinea con nuestras identidades políticas.”

¿Quién crea y difunde información errónea?

La mayor parte de la información errónea que se ve es creada y difundida por siete tipos de actores: bromistas, estafadores, entidades impulsadas por intereses, teóricos de la conspiración, "personas involucradas", celebridades o sus amigos y familiares. Hemos discutido la función de muchos de estos actores en otras partes de nuestro recurso de desinformación, pero aún no hemos abordado el papel de las personas con información privilegiada o “personas involucradas”, los teóricos de la conspiración y las celebridades como fuentes y difusores de información errónea.

Las personas involucradas, o aquellos que revelan información confidencial al público en general, a menudo se consideran figuras controvertidas. Sin embargo, un número creciente de "personas involucradas" no son verdaderas personas involucradas en absoluto: son simplemente individuos que reclaman credenciales falsas para dar crédito a su desinformación. Al comienzo de la pandemia y el confinamiento del COVID-19, los mensajes sobre las "curas" del coronavirus y las medidas preventivas reclamaron la autoridad de los expertos taiwaneses, los médicos japoneses y la junta del hospital de Stanford. Sin embargo, estos mensajes, que casi siempre eran falsos y a veces dañosos, no habían sido escritos ni respaldados por ninguno de los expertos enumerados. Al evaluar la confiabilidad de una persona potencialmente con información privilegiada, sospeche de credenciales vagas o información transmitida por "un amigo de un amigo". Un denunciante genuino que ha compartido sus preocupaciones a través de los canales adecuados bien podría tener derecho al anonimato. Alguien que comparte reclamos a través de las redes sociales o el correo electrónico probablemente no lo esté.

Existe una gran posibilidad de que crea o encuentre credibilidad en al menos una teoría de la conspiración: más del 60% de los estadounidenses lo cree. Las teorías de la conspiración, de alguna manera contradictoria, ofrecen racionalidad en un mundo arbitrario e impredecible. Según John Cook, experto en desinformación del Centro de Comunicación sobre el Cambio Climático de la Universidad George Mason, “le da a la gente más sentido de control imaginar que, en lugar de que sucedan cosas al azar, existen estos grupos y agencias en la sombra que lo controlan. La aleatoriedad es muy incómoda para la gente ". Las teorías de la conspiración florecen a raíz de eventos cataclísmicos como una pandemia o un bombardeo y pueden ser casi imposibles de refutar. Dado que la mayoría de las conspiraciones incluyen la creencia en algún tipo de encubrimiento, las refutaciones o bromas sobre una teoría de la conspiración simplemente proporcionan más "evidencia" de que se está perpetuando un encubrimiento.

Las audiencias que consumen principalmente los medios convencionales ven muchas más historias falsas de información privilegiada y teorías de conspiración de las que se imaginan. Mientras los medios convencionales en sí siguen siendo altamente confiables, los algoritmos en línea que favorecen el contenido con alta participación en lugar de contenido con alta veracidad facilitan la transmisión de información errónea a estas audiencias a través de plataformas ampliamente utilizadas como Facebook, Twitter y YouTube. Las personas notorias, como las celebridades, son facilitadores claves para este tipo de difusión de información errónea. Al examinar cómo viaja la información errónea de COVID-19, por ejemplo, las publicaciones de información errónea de celebridades, políticos y otras figuras públicas prominentes representaron casi el 70% de la participación total en las redes sociales, aunque esas publicaciones representaron solo el 20% del contenido total de información errónea de COVID-19. Este tipo de participación utiliza la falacia lógica de apelar a la autoridad: la alta visibilidad de un individuo en las redes sociales no significa que tenga la experiencia para evaluar si todo lo que ve y comparte es cierto.

Sobre política y teorías de la conspiración
Cada vez más, las teorías de la conspiración de la izquierda alternativa y de la derecha alternativa se discuten seriamente en los círculos políticos como conceptos legítimos. Esta tendencia es particularmente preocupante dado la posible influencia de esta información errónea en los legisladores y la legislación que autorizan. Sin embargo, las conspiraciones de extrema izquierda y extrema derecha no se promueven de la misma manera: es más probable que las conspiraciones de extrema derecha se difundan a través de redes coordinadas en los canales principales, dándoles un mayor alcance y una mayor legitimidad percibida. Independientemente de la orientación política, debemos esforzarnos por evaluar cuidadosamente toda la información que afectará nuestros sistemas de gobierno y evitar el uso de especulaciones sin fundamento para determinar la política pública.

Sobre las elecciones

Las elecciones y la política siempre han supuesto desinformación y manipulación. A menudo, la capacidad de un político para utilizar y contrarrestar eficazmente estas estrategias es una señal de competencia política. Considere a Odiseo, "el hombre de giros y vueltas", cuya astucia e ilusionismo fueron elogiados por hombres y dioses en las epopeyas griegas La Ilíada y La Odisea. Sin embargo, las sociedades democráticas dependen de las elecciones justas y libres para garantizar que el gobierno derive su autoridad de la voluntad del pueblo. Las campañas de desinformación dirigidas a los votantes socavan la capacidad de un país para celebrar elecciones libres y justas. Hay varias tácticas utilizadas para este objetivo.

La “microtargeting” de las comunidades es particularmente preocupante: ¿cómo puede una elección ser justa si una comunidad recibe mensajes engañosos y altamente focalizados que la instan a votar a favor o en contra de un candidato? O peor aún, ¿qué sucede cuando los mensajes dirigidos anuncian la hora, el lugar o el método incorrecto para votar a un grupo en particular, como los “Texto para votar por Hillary” anuncios? Incluso la amenaza de tales acciones socava la confianza en los sistemas democráticos.

Ahora sabemos que durante los últimos años las campañas digitales internacionales dirigidas en los EE. UU. y en todo el mundo han trabajado para difundir contenido intencionalmente erróneo, socavar la fe en los procedimientos electorales y ampliar las divisiones existentes en varios países. Sin embargo, incluso las organizaciones nacionales de EE. UU. utilizan cada vez más estas mismas técnicas de desinformación para ganancias de elecciones a corto plazo o por motivos políticos. En última instancia, la desinformación electoral impulsada por todos los actores debilita el sistema democrático.

La Iglesia Episcopal reconoce que el proceso de votación y participación política es un acto de mayordomía cristiana y que dichos procesos deben ser imparciales, seguros y justos (vea resoluciones EC022020.16 y 2018-D096). Dado que la información errónea amenaza este proceso, la Iglesia Episcopal pide a todos sus miembros que estén atentos al interactuar con la información en línea y les anima a que verifiquen los datos y identifiquen la fuente para limitar la difusión de información errónea. Además, instamos a los episcopales a responsabilizar a los funcionarios del gobierno por limitar la difusión de información falsa y diseñada para causar daño.

¿Qué puedo hacer?

La desinformación a menudo se propaga más rápido que las noticias reales y llega a un público más amplio. También es cada vez más difícil de identificar. El primer paso para abordar la desinformación es el reconocimiento: todos contribuimos al problema, y todos debemos asumir la responsabilidad para detenerlo. Mientras la desinformación siga siendo un problema para que “el otro” resuelva —Generación Z, Boomers, Facebook, Millennials, suegros— va a persistir.

No captaremos toda la información errónea que nos llega. Pero antes de compartir ese tuit o contarle a un amigo sobre ese titular sorprendente que vio, hágase tres preguntas:

  1. ¿De dónde es? Busque la fuente y tenga cuidado con los sitios web falsos de imitación.
  2. ¿Qué falta? ¿Coinciden el titular y el artículo? ¿Están hablando de eso otras organizaciones de noticias?
  3. ¿Cómo se siente? Si un titular o artículo genera una emoción intensa como miedo, ira o reivindicación, esté atento. Esa es una táctica común de alguien que intenta manipularle, no de alguien que intenta difundir noticias de confianza.

Otras cosas a considerar:

  • Aprenda en quién confiar. Una consecuencia desafortunada de la vigilancia de la desinformación puede ser la censura a través del ruido. Si la vigilancia nos lleva a desconfiar de todos los titulares, los que promueven la desinformación están triunfando. Esto significa que es menos probable que recibamos información precisa e informativa. Aprender quién produce en general información precisa es tan importante como examinar cuidadosamente las fuentes desconocidas.
  • El género importa. No es solo artículos satíricos de la publicación “el Onion” que se comparten como una "noticia". Tenga en cuenta las diferencias en la presentación, el protocolo de verificación de hechos y los estándares de responsabilidad entre la investigación revisada por pares, los artículos de noticias verificados por los hechos, los artículos de opinión y los programas de entrevistas y las diversas formas de sátira, propaganda y chismes.
  • Una forma eficaz de acabar con las campañas de desinformación es etiquetarlas. Si bien es posible que no desee participar en los debates de hilos de comentarios en las redes sociales, considere hacer un comentario o enviar un mensaje privado a amigos y familiares cuando compartan una publicación que sospecha que es falsa o engañosa. ¡Y sea receptivo a los mismos comentarios de los demás!  
  • Comunicarse con los funcionarios electos que la protección contra las campañas de desinformación es importante para usted.
  • Considere pedir a sus miembros del Congreso que apoyen la seguridad electoral. Los proyectos de ley debatidos en el 116 ° Congreso de los EE. UU. incluyen  el “DETER Act” S. 1060,  “Honest Ads Act” S.1356/H.R.2592, y “SHIELD Act” H.R. 4617.
  • Desarrollar una comprensión matizada de la relación entre la libertad de expresión y la desinformación. Considere: ¿Ofrece (o debería) la Constitución a los anuncios comerciales o políticos pagados las mismas protecciones de libertad de expresión que a las personas? ¿La libertad de expresión también incluye la libertad de recibir información? Si es así, ¿la desinformación amenaza ese derecho? ¿Quién (si es que hay alguien) debería ser responsable de rastrear / etiquetar información falsa? ¿Debería haber límites para el anonimato web o los requisitos de divulgación del autor?

Recursos adicionales

Si desea obtener más información sobre el desorden de la información, aquí tiene algunas recomendaciones:

Resoluciones de la Convención General y el Consejo Ejecutivo

  • MB 016 – Desinformación y elecciones
  • EXC062016.07 - Apoyo a la reforma financiera de campañas
  • Resolución 2018-D096 - Urgir la promoción de la buena gobernanza y la participación justa  

Sobre el censo de EE. UU. 2020

Cada 10 años, el gobierno de los Estados Unidos realiza un esfuerzo masivo para contar a todas las personas que viven en el país. Este recuento es de suma importancia: determina la representación en el Congreso, se utiliza para asignar fondos federales para la próxima década y proporciona información valiosa para los funcionarios comunitarios estatales y locales, los proveedores de servicios y las empresas privadas. La información errónea sobre el censo se difunde fácilmente y es increíblemente dañoso. Las comunidades donde la información errónea del censo es más desenfrenada son a menudo aquellas con subgrupos "difíciles de contar" que tienen más que ganar con los recuentos de población precisos.

Los objetivos de la información errónea del censo a menudo incluyen:

  • Privacidad de datos y estafas financieras. Lo que necesita saber: La Oficina del Censo nunca le pedirá su número de Seguro Social, número de tarjeta de crédito o cuenta bancaria, ni una donación financiera.
  • Encuestadores en persona. Lo que necesita saber: durante la primavera y el verano del censo de 2020, los encuestadores en persona visitarán los hogares para dar el seguimiento a las personas que aún no han respondido. Todos los trabajadores llevan una tarjeta de identificación con su fotografía, una marca de agua del Departamento de Comercio de EE. UU. y la fecha de vencimiento. Si tiene preguntas sobre su identidad, puede llamar al + 1-844-330-2020 para hablar con un representante de la Oficina del Censo.
  • Garantías de privacidad y protección de datos. Lo que necesita saber: Según el Título 13 del Código de los EE. UU., los datos del censo SOLAMENTE pueden usarse con fines estadísticos. La Oficina del Censo no puede divulgar ninguna información identificable sobre usted, su hogar o su negocio, ni siquiera a las agencias del orden público.

Puede aprender más sobre la información errónea del censo y cómo combatirla en el sitio web oficial del censo de EE. UU. Además, no se pierda la serie del censo y la caja de herramientas de participación del censo de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales.

Sobre COVID-19

La incertidumbre y el miedo que rodean al COVID-19 crean un entorno perfecto para que la información errónea sobre la enfermedad se difunda rápidamente y ampliamente, tanto que la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) advirtió que combatir esta enfermedad también requerirá combatir un “infodemic.” Los temas de información errónea incluyen los orígenes de la enfermedad, cómo se propaga, cómo tratarla, las respuestas de las autoridades y las acciones de las comunidades. Individuos en los EE. UU. y en el extranjero ya han muerto por seguir consejos falsos sobre el tratamiento y los métodos de prevención del coronavirus.

En medio de esta infodemia, la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales insta a todos a obtener y compartir información sobre la enfermedad del coronavirus directamente del Organización Mundial de la Salud, los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de EnfermedadesUniversidad John Hopkins o sus proveedores de atención médica locales. Sabemos que la orientación de estas agencias puede fluctuar y a veces cambiar por completo. Sin embargo, comprenda que esto se debe a que estas agencias están haciendo su diligencia debida para brindar transparencia al público sobre esta crisis de salud y para ajustar sus recomendaciones a medida que surgen nuevas investigaciones científicas.

¿Qué pasa con las mascarillas?
Nuestros trabajadores de la salud que interactúan directamente con muchos pacientes de COVID-19 tienen algunos de los riesgos más altos de contraer esta enfermedad y son uno de los grupos más importantes para mantenerse saludables y en el trabajo. Debido a esto, el suministro limitado de N95 y mascarillas quirúrgicas se está dirigiendo hacia este grupo. Otras cubiertas faciales, incluidas las hechas en casa, no son muy buenas para proteger a las personas del COVID-19 y otras enfermedades infecciosas, por lo que los CDC no recomendaron originalmente que las usara el público en general. Sin embargo, estas mascarillas de bajo grado pueden reducir la propagación de COVID-19 de las personas que ya están infectadas. A medida que salieron los datos de que muchos casos de COVID-19 estaban siendo transmitidos por personas que no sabían que tenían la enfermedad, los CDC cambiaron su recomendación de mascarilla para alentar al público en general a usar una. El uso de una mascarilla de tela no evitará directamente que se enferme, pero si usted y todos los que lo rodean usan una, es mucho menos probable que se contagien la enfermedad entre sí.  

¿Qué más deberíamos estar haciendo?
Los consejos de salud actuales son rutinarios pero muy importantes de seguir. Las mejores prácticas recomendadas por los CDC para todos en la actualidad incluyen:

  • Lávese las manos con frecuencia
  • Evite el contacto cercano
  • Cúbrase la boca y la nariz con una mascarilla de tela cuando esté cerca de otras personas
  • Cúbrase la nariz y la boca al toser y estornudar
  • Limpiar y desinfectar

Para las personas infectadas con COVID-19, sabemos que existen varias sugerencias para aliviar los síntomas en el hogar. Esté atento a los tratamientos con efectos secundarios potencialmente peligrosos y recuerde dar el seguimiento de cualquier medicamento que tome, incluidos los suplementos naturales o herbales. Si su condición empeora, esta información ayudará a su médico a saber cuál es la mejor forma de tratarlo.

Mientras luchamos contra esta pandemia global, asegurémonos de que nuestras acciones están limitando la propagación de esta enfermedad, no aumentando la propagación de información errónea.

Sobre los peligros de la desinformación patrocinada por el gobierno

Las campañas de desinformación patrocinadas por el gobierno tienen el poder de dañar a la sociedad. Por lo general, las personas tienen algo que decir sobre la cantidad de redes sociales que consumen y de cuál organización quieren recibir noticias. Pero dado que los gobiernos son nuestros órganos legislativos con el poder y la autoridad para hacer cumplir esas leyes, todos debemos prestar atención a las campañas de información patrocinadas por el gobierno. Si estas campañas se utilizan para difundir información falsa o engañosa a los ciudadanos, especialmente si el engaño es intencional, el daño social comienza a acumularse. Así es como:

1. Erosión de la confianza.
La desinformación respaldada por el gobierno puede erosionar la confianza entre las ramas del gobierno, entre un gobierno y sus ciudadanos, y en la esfera internacional. Estadounidenses, por ejemplo, tienen menos confianza en el gobierno federal que en el gobierno estatal o local y también creen que es menos probable que el gobierno federal proporcione información justa y precisa. Esta falta de confianza hace que sea mucho más difícil coordinar esfuerzos como la ayuda en casos de desastre y las recomendaciones de atención médica, al tiempo que abre la puerta a otros actores con menos supervisión y responsabilidad para convertirse en proveedores primarios de información. En sociedades democráticas que dependen mucho más explícitamente de un nivel de confianza entre los funcionarios electos y los electores, la erosión de la confianza puede representar una amenaza a largo plazo para los sistemas de gobierno estables.

2. Falta de responsabilidad.
Ninguna autoridad quiere ser responsable de una iniciativa fallida, una pobre respuesta a un desastre u otras crisis en las que se percibe que el gobierno ha manejado mal la situación. Las campañas de desinformación pueden permitir a los gobiernos echar la culpa a otros chivos expiatorios o negar la existencia de un problema por completo y evitar acciones productivas para abordar el problema.

3. Fomenta la difusión de más información errónea.
Las campañas de desinformación a menudo producen beneficios a corto plazo, aunque las repercusiones a largo plazo pueden finalmente lastimar el gobierno que patrocina la campaña. Una vez que un gobierno comienza a depender de la desinformación, se vuelve atractivo para otros intereses nacionales y extranjeros encabezar sus propias campañas, ya sea a través de una racionalización de "ellos-lo-hacen-por-qué-no-debería-yo" o por el deseo de seguir siendo competitivos en la esfera de influencia de la información.

Sobre las vacunas

Las vacunas son uno de los mayores logros médicos de la historia: extraordinariamente seguras, increíblemente eficaces y una vez superado el desarrollo inicial, a menudo resultan económicas de producir. Las vacunas han salvado millones de vidas y protegen a un número aún mayor de personas de condiciones médicas debilitantes de toda la vida que pueden resultar de un caso grave de una enfermedad infecciosa. En el mundo actual de COVID-19, los expertos predicen que es probable que la vida no vuelva a la "normalidad" hasta que se desarrolle una vacuna y pueda distribuirse ampliamente.

Un movimiento contra las vacunas ha persistido casi desde la invención de las vacunas. Tras la introducción de la vacuna contra la viruela en el siglo XIX, movimientos antivacunas se extendió por Gran Bretaña y los Estados Unidos alimentada por el escepticismo de la ciencia, la desaprobación y el miedo al método de la vacuna y una objeción a las infracciones de la libertad personal cuando la legislación ordenó las vacunas. Más recientemente, un estudio fraudulento publicado en 1998 pretendía demostrar un vínculo entre la vacuna contra el sarampión, las paperas y la rubéola (MMR) y el autismo. Este documento, y otros similares, han contribuido a que miles de padres elijan no vacunar a sus hijos, a pesar de que las investigaciones muestran que los datos del estudio fueron falsificado y el autor principal no reveló un conflicto de intereses financiero significativo.

La información errónea sobre las vacunas es increíblemente omnipresente y fácil de encontrar en la cultura rica en medios de hoy. Las plataformas brindan a ex científicos y médicos desacreditados, como el autor principal del estudio fraudulento de la vacuna MMR, una forma de difundir sus puntos de vista a una amplia audiencia con muy poca supervisión o responsabilidad.

Es cierto que las vacunas, como cualquier medicamento, a veces provocan efectos secundarios inesperados. Sin embargo, los efectos secundarios graves de las vacunas estándar son increíblemente raros y es mucho menos probable que ocurran en comparación a los efectos secundarios graves que se pueden desarrollar al contraer una enfermedad infecciosa. Los médicos limitan aún más la probabilidad de efectos secundarios graves al no vacunar al pequeño porcentaje de la población que tiene un mayor riesgo de experimentar una reacción negativa.

Elegir no vacunar por una razón no médica no solo pone en riesgo a la persona en cuestión: también crea un entorno para que las enfermedades infecciosas se propaguen a quienes, por razones de salud, no pueden vacunarse y, a menudo, corren el riesgo de desarrollar síntomas más graves de una enfermedad. Debido a que rechazar las vacunas conlleva importantes riesgos para la salud pública de muchos miembros de la comunidad, los tribunales de los EE. UU. generalmente han ratificado la autoridad de los estados para exigir las vacunas, señalando que el derecho de un individuo a la libertad personal o religiosa no reemplaza la responsabilidad del estado de proteger al público. Aproximadamente 1,5 millones de personas mueren cada año por enfermedades prevenibles mediante vacunación. En un esfuerzo por proteger a todos sus miembros y a nuestros vecinos, la Iglesia Episcopal no reconoce exenciones teológicas o religiosas para las vacunas y requiere vacunas para todos los participantes y el personal en los eventos episcopales (excepto aquellos con una exención médica). Obtenga más información sobre cómo involucrar a las comunidades religiosas en la inmunización de The World Faiths Development Dialogue.

Si tiene preguntas sobre las vacunas:

  1. Hable con su proveedor de atención médica primaria. Pueden explicar los posibles efectos secundarios de la vacuna, los posibles efectos secundarios de contraer una enfermedad y los riesgos relativos de cada uno. Su proveedor de atención médica primaria también debe estar informado de cualquier condición médica preexistente que usted o sus hijos tengan.
  2. Realice investigaciones en línea de fuentes confiables, como los Centros para el Control de Enfermedades. Hay mucha información falsa, engañosa o incompleta sobre las vacunas. Asegúrese de que la comunidad médica haya examinado minuciosamente cualquier información que utilice.

Sobre el cambio climático

La desinformación no es la única razón para la negación del cambio climático en los EE. UU., pero definitivamente es un factor importante que contribuye. Según la científica climática Dra. Katherine Hayhoe, las 6 etapas de la negación climática se pueden resumir de la siguiente manera: “No es real. No somos nosotros. No está tan mal. Es demasiado caro de arreglar. Ajá, aquí hay una gran solución (que en realidad no hace nada). Y ... ¡oh no! Ahora es demasiado tarde. Realmente deberías habernos advertido antes ".

En 1856, la científica aficionada Eunice Foote publicó un artículo en el American Journal of Science sobre su descubrimiento de las propiedades de captura del calor del dióxido de carbono y teorizó que una atmósfera con una mayor concentración de CO2 daría como resultado una Tierra más cálida. Un siglo y medio después, la ciencia se ha vuelto más clara: el cambio climático es real, los humanos lo están causando y las soluciones deben implementarse lo más rápido posible. Sin embargo, el creciente consenso científico fue acompañado por el creciente cuerpo de desinformación climática financiado por la industria de los combustibles fósiles y la filantropía privada. Deberíamos tener conversaciones sobre las soluciones al cambio climático y cuáles acuerdos mutuos son necesarios para implementarlos. En cambio, continuamos debatiendo lo que ya es consenso científico y nos esforzamos por corregir los errores que propaga la información errónea.

La afiliación política - no el conocimiento científico - es un predictor clave de la creencia de un individuo en el cambio climático en los EE. UU. Esta división partidista, alimentada por la información errónea, ha estancado la legislación bipartidista para abordar el cambio climático durante más de 20 años. Hasta el día de hoy, se han tomado muy pocas acciones a nivel federal para disminuir la huella de carbono de los Estados Unidos. Incluso dentro de la comunidad ambiental, la desinformación climática persiste: un documental ambiental lanzado alrededor del Día de la Tierra 2020 recibió críticas mordaces por mezclar preguntas importantes sobre el sector de las energías renovables con una enorme cantidad de datos desactualizados, engañosos y falsos.

El cambio climático ya es una de las crisis más difíciles de nuestro tiempo que debemos abordar. No hagamos más difícil la implementación de soluciones utilizando información errónea para disfrazar el problema y arruinar los debates.

Para obtener más información sobre la ciencia del cambio climático:

Para obtener más información sobre las soluciones al cambio climático:

Conclusión: buscando la verdad

2 Reyes 18 narra una brillante pieza de información errónea de un comandante asirio durante el reinado del rey Ezequías. El ejército asirio ya había derrotado al reino del norte de Israel y muchas ciudades en el reino del sur de Judá. Mientras pone sitio a Jerusalén, el comandante asirio comienza a burlarse de los soldados israelitas en las murallas de la ciudad. "¿Crees que he venido aquí para destruir este país sin la aprobación expresa de Dios?" él pide. “El hecho es que [tu] Dios me ordenó expresamente, '¡Ataca y destruye este país!' ... No dejes que Ezequías te engañe; él no puede salvarte ... Escucha al rey de Asiria: trata conmigo y vive la buena vida; Les garantizaré a todos su propio terreno, ¡un jardín y un pozo! ... ¡Solo se vive una vez, así que vive, vive de verdad! " (El Mensaje, 2 Reyes 18: 25-32) Sin embargo, los soldados israelitas guardaron silencio y no entregaron la ciudad.

Al igual que los soldados israelitas, no hay mucho que podamos hacer para evitar la exposición a la información errónea; nos la gritan constantemente. Los soldados israelitas podían ignorar la propaganda del comandante asirio, sin embargo, debido a que tenían otras fuentes, podían confiar para proporcionarles mejor información: El rey Ezequías, los consejeros de Ezequías y el profeta Isaías, quien aseguró al pueblo que Dios no buscaba la destrucción de Jerusalén. La conservación de nuestras propias fuentes de confianza también puede permitirnos encontrar la verdad en el panorama de la desinformación.

Al crear o aumentar su lista de fuentes confiables, aquí hay algunas cosas que debe tener en cuenta:

  • Busque altos estándares de periodismo y reportajes. El contenido debe estar bien investigado, los autores, los prejuicios y los conflictos de intereses deben divulgarse y los errores deben corregirse de inmediato.
  • Comprender y buscar una delimitación clara entre géneros. Las noticias (hechos de lo que sucedió) son diferentes del análisis (por qué sucedió algo) y ambos difieren de la opinión (visión personal, a menudo de un no experto, sobre por qué sucedió algo). El periodismo ciudadano (la recopilación, difusión y análisis de noticias e información por parte del público en general) rara vez se somete a un examen previo a la publicación, lo que lo convierte en un principal difusor de desinformación. No hay nada de malo en consumir estos diversos géneros, pero deben evaluarse de manera diferente.
  • Utilice una diversidad de lentes. No existe una visión "imparcial". Por lo tanto, siga una fuente de noticias tanto liberal como conservadora; comprender ambas partes no significa que esté de acuerdo con ambas. Apoye las noticias locales para mantenerse informado sobre su comunidad. Lea una publicación internacional para seguir los asuntos globales. Siga a expertos académicos o de la industria en los campos que le interesan.

El consumo de medios diversos y de alta calidad mejora nuestra comprensión del mundo y nos equipa para identificar y evaluar críticamente la información errónea. Incluso si no sigue de cerca a todas las fuentes confiables, saber dónde ir para encontrar información precisa o una perspectiva diferente sobre un tema es extremadamente útil.

¿Por qué confiar en la ciencia?

Puede resultar difícil contextualizar la verdad que ofrece la ciencia. Los estudios científicos están escritos en un formato de fórmulas que a muchos de nosotros no nos resulta familiar y sus resultados no siempre son comunicados de manera clara y precisa por los medios de comunicación. Entonces, ¿por qué confiamos en la ciencia?

La comprensión científica es dinámica: cambia con el tiempo para incorporar nueva evidencia y prueba los supuestos antiguos para evaluar su validez. El método científico iterativo refina las hipótesis para que expliquen mejor las observaciones en el mundo real. El análisis estadístico protege contra la tendencia humana a ver patrones y causalidad donde no existen. El proceso de revisión por pares protege a la comunidad en general de los sesgos o errores de un investigador.

La Iglesia Episcopal apoya el uso de la ciencia "para informar y aumentar nuestra comprensión de la Creación de Dios, y para ayudar a la Iglesia en el desarrollo de programas y políticas cristianos consistentes con nuestra fe". Confiamos en la ciencia porque ofrece una manera de cotejar y examinar nuestra comprensión del mundo y de tomar decisiones informadas sobre cómo vivir de una manera que honre a Dios y muestre amor a nuestro prójimo.

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El trabajo en este recurso fue dirigido por Rebecca Cotton, becaria de política pública, y traducido por Jorge Villarreal, pasante de investigación y política pública, Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales

Publicado originalmente el 2 de abril de 2020 en inglés Introducción Puede ser atractivo pensar que el híper partidista, engañoso y absolutamente falso contenido que induce el miedo y es omnipresente hoy es un problema exclusivamente moderno. Sin...
September 9, 2020

Every 10 years, the U.S. Census collects and provides critical population data to the federal government and to states. September 30th marks the last day of data collection for the 2020 Census, meaning this is both the last day for self-response online or over the phone, and the last day census workers will be visiting households to follow up on non-responses. The total percentage enumerated as of 9/8 is 88.2%, meaning we have not yet counted everyone – and we need to!

In the last few days of the census, help us push for the most accurate count possible by filling out the census if you have not already, and by encouraging others to do so.

Below are updates on the 2020 Census including the next steps, as of right now, that will occur following the September 30th deadline. A great deal has changed over the past few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and changing requests from the Census Bureau. 

Census and Coronavirus

The pandemic has disrupted the 2020 Census enumeration in a number of critical ways. Our own efforts, and those of other official census partners, have been disrupted with the necessary elimination of in-person activities that would have offered chances to advertise and facilitate enumeration. We had planned for congregations to hold education forums on the census, advertise the census around their immediate community, and even open their buildings (and WiFi) to help facilitate self-responses, which would have particularly helped hard-to-count populations. Despite these challenges, many of you stepped up to advertise the 2020 Census any way you could. Thank you for that work!

The Census Bureau also had to delay deployment of thousands of census workers to do non-response follow up and count people in particular types of living situations like those experiencing homeless, college students, those in prison, nursing homes, and Indigenous communities.

We have talked about why it is so important to have an accurate census count for more effective and efficient federal, state and local programs, private enterprise development, and of course the apportionment process of congressional seats. Undercounting the population within the U.S. has serious implications for future elections and the ability of government programs and services to be responsive to those who need them most.

While the aim now seems to be maintaining the data delivery date of December 31st to the President and April 1st to the states, the September 30th deadline does represent a two-month extended window for data collection beyond the original pre-COVID schedule. The Census Bureau originally requested to delay the data delivery by several months, which would have allowed even more time to get a more accurate count and finalize processing the data. However, doing so would not come without other drawbacks and challenges.

Were we to see a delay in delivering data to states, as the Brennan Center noted, “the delays [would] impact the legal or customary redistricting timelines of most states and, in many cases, [would] require changes to redistricting deadlines and processes set by state law.” Further, some states would have had “to adjust their candidate filing or qualification periods and/or move primary dates. Delays would also impact elections in New Jersey and Virginia, the two states with general elections scheduled in 2021.” The challenges of a disrupted and compressed redistricting process would be significant.

Read this from the National Conference of State Legislatures for more detailed information on the delays in the census data collection and delivery.

On Apportionment and Redistricting

Apportionment is the process of dividing the 435 seats of the House of Representatives among the 50 states using a proportional method of equal proportions. This happens through a number of processes at the federal and state levels.

According to the Census Bureau, “The apportionment calculation is based upon the total resident population (citizens and noncitizens) of the 50 states. In the 2020 Census, the apportionment population also includes U.S. Armed Forces personnel and federal civilian employees stationed outside the United States (and their dependents living with them) that can be allocated back to a home state.” Once data collection for the 2020 Census concludes, Title 13 of the U.S. Code mandates that the population counts for apportionment be delivered to the President within 9 months of the census start date, which was officially April 1, meaning the data is due to the President by December 31.

The Bureau further stipulates that “within one week of the opening of the next session of the Congress [January 3], the President must report to the Clerk of the House of Representatives the apportionment population counts for each state and the number of Representatives to which each state is entitled. [Then] within 15 days, the Clerk of the House must inform each state governor of the number of representatives to which each state is entitled.”

After these initial steps, by April 1, 2021, the Census Bureau must also send directly to each state more detailed sociodemographic data of each state. From here, states must pass redistricting plans for state legislative and congressional seats on the basis of this data. This can be a swift process, as an overwhelming majority of states must pass them by the candidate filing deadlines for the 2022 elections. Thus, members of the House represent new congressional districts in the decade from 2023 onward.

On Litigation and the 2020 Census

In addition to the details above, you can find information below about a number of pending court cases related to the census count. Several of these cases pertain to a memorandum from the Trump Administration attempting to exclude undocumented immigrants from census data during the apportionment of congressional seats. A list and summaries from the Brennan Center are below.

Alabama v. United States Department of Commerce
The State of Alabama filed a lawsuit against the Commerce Department and Census Bureau, challenging the Bureau’s policy of including all U.S. residents in the census count used for apportionment. This case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

Common Cause v. Trump
Common Cause et al., are challenging President Trump’s attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from the state-population totals that are produced by the 2020 Census and used for apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and votes in the Electoral College. This case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

La Union Del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) v. Ross
Latino groups filed a lawsuit against Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross challenging his directive to the Census Bureau to collect and produce citizenship data for state-level redistricting purposes. The plaintiffs argue that Secretary Ross’s directive violates the U.S. Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and federal law barring conspiracies to violate civil rights. This case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

National Urban League v. Ross
The National Urban League is leading a coalition of counties, cities, advocacy organizations, and individuals in a challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to abandon the U.S. Census Bureau’s COVID-19 plans and rush the data-collection and data-processing timelines for the 2020 Census. This case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

New York v. Trump
New York and a coalition of 20 states, cities, and localities are challenging President Trump’s attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from the state-population totals that are produced by the 2020 Census and used for apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and votes in the Electoral College. This case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Help Get an Accurate Count

The 2020 Census data collection period, including the self-response window, lasts through September 30th! You can still advertise the 2020 Census in your community during this time. Check out our Shape Your Future: 2020 Census Engagement Toolkit for more ideas on how to encourage your family, friends, and neighbors to fill out the census today!

 

Additional Resources
Census Series Week 1: Why We Count
Census Series Week 2: Healthcare
Census Series Week 3: Education
Census Series Week 4: Social Safety Net Programs
Census Series Week 5: Businesses & Infrastructure

Every 10 years, the U.S. Census collects and provides critical population data to the federal government and to states. September 30th marks the last day of data collection for the 2020 Census, meaning this is both the last day for self-response...
August 31, 2020

Please review the following new and revised resources to carry out your faith and live into your responsibilities living in community with others.

Faith and Citizenship Guide for Advocacy

An updated version of our Faith and Citizenship Guide for Advocacy is now available in English! This resource seeks to help you fulfill your baptismal covenant to strive for justice and peace. While it is focused on the federal level, the advocacy tips and tactics we recommend throughout the guide are applicable to state and local advocacy as well. Use this for your personal development or take on advocacy strategies in your congregation with more confidence.

Sign up to help work our election!

Become a poll worker! Hundreds of thousands of people are needed as poll workers to help make this election run. Many poll workers are older, and thus in a demographic at higher-risk to COVID-19. Because of this, states are concerned about a shortage of poll workers. If you are in a low-risk category for COVID-19, consider being a poll worker for this year’s election. And in many places, poll workers are compensated for their time – sign up today!

#VoteFaithfully Toolkit

Finally, in case you missed it, our election engagement toolkit has prayers, scripture, tips for advocacy, and action steps for casting your vote and helping others vote as well. Check it out in English and Spanish.

Plan Your Vote

Remember to create a #MyVoterPlan laying out the steps you need to take and when in order to successfully vote in the 2020 election.

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Get your “I’m an Episcopalian and I Voted” stickers and magnets and pins! Write to us to get yours today!

Please review the following new and revised resources to carry out your faith and live into your responsibilities living in community with others. Faith and Citizenship Guide for Advocacy An updated version of our Faith and Citizenship Guide for...
August 20, 2020

Election season is upon us in the U.S., and now is the time to make sure you – and those in your community – are ready. This year, many states have updated how voters can cast their ballot with no-excuse absentee ballots, early voting, and other measures to allow Americans to vote safely in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Prepare to cast your vote by creating a #MyVoterPlan laying out the steps you need to take and when in order to successfully vote in the 2020 election. 

Step 1: Registration 

  • Confirm you meet the requirements. Note: some states will allow voters to register before their 18th birthday if they will be 18 on or by Election Day. 
  • Research the process to register (in some places it can be done online!) and know when the registration deadline is. Not all states allow Election Day voter registration, so many of you will need to register several weeks before.  
  • If you are already registered, confirm your registration is valid. You can learn more about the challenges of updating voter rolls and how that can disenfranchise eligible voters, here.   

Step 2: Research who will be on your ballot 

  • While the Presidential election generates the most attention, local and state elections are also highly consequential. Use this tool to see who will appear on your ballot and research the candidates so you can make an informed vote. 
  • Research ballot initiatives/ballot measures. Some states offer voters the chance to weigh in directly on policy matters through ballot initiatives. Review these carefully, as the wording can sometimes be unclear and the issue complex.  

Step 3: Requesting an absentee ballot/voting by mail 

Step 4: Voting in person 

  • If voting in person is your plan of choice, remember Election Day is Tuesday, November 3rd. Look up your polling place to know where to vote in person, and heed protocols in place at the polling location to keep everyone safe.  
  • If you want to vote early, make sure you know the deadlines! Not all states allow early voting. 
  • Make sure you have a way to get to your local polling station. Public transit may be at reduced capacity due to the pandemic, so double-check schedules ahead of time.  

Step 5: Overcoming challenges and helping others vote 

  • Use our #VoteFaithfully toolkit for ideas to help get out the vote in your community! The toolkit is available in English and Spanish, and on this webpage, we will be adding more election resources as they become available. 
  • Voting while experiencing homelessness presents serious challenges. Tips for voting while homeless and policies by state.
  • Become a poll worker! Hundreds of thousands of people serve as poll workers every election, ensuring the election goes smoothly. This year presents particular challenges, as many poll workers are older and at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19. If you are in a low-risk category for COVID-19, consider being a poll worker for this year’s election.  
  • Voting advocacy is critical to protect and expand the right to vote. See our #VoteFaithfully toolkit for information about Episcopal Church policies on voting. 
  • Get your “I’m an Episcopalian and I voted” stickers and magnets and pins! Write to us at eppn@episcopalchurch.org to get yours today.  

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     Finally, a note on voting by mail and the United States Postal Service (USPS). Voting by mail in this election will be critical to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Voting by mail is also a secure way to cast our votes, and each of us must accept our personal responsibility to request and return our mail-in ballots in a timely fashion to meet deadlines. Data does not support the notion that voting by mail helps either political party. Finally, while we have advocated for federal support for increased mail-in voting, keep in mind that data shows that mail-in voting is not necessarily the best option for all areas of the country, particularly rural areas and areas with large Indigenous populations. We must continue to ensure reasonable access to polling sites or voter centers. 

     The USPS connects millions of Americans to vital services beyond delivering and returning ballots, and we are grateful for the hard work of the employees of the USPS particularly during this pandemic. While there are some underlying concerns surrounding the Post Office that require our attention, the reality is more complicated than it may seem. We must stay diligent about the information we consume, avoiding misinformation wherever it may arise, yet still responsive in our advocacy to direct our requests in the most effective and precise way possible. While we are encouraged by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s statement concerning USPS operations now and through the election, we hope that the reality of the coming months matches the high standard of service outlined in his statement and exhibited historically by the USPS. Our election depends on it. 

     We must continue to monitor any restrictions on the right to vote and insist on fairly conducted elections. Having just passed the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment that granted eligible women the right to vote, may we remember that then, as now, some Americans are still not able to vote or to access fair representation, often through indirect ways. Our democracy requires our participation through exercising our right to vote and our diligence in expanding and maintaining that right for all. 

Election season is upon us in the U.S., and now is the time to make sure you – and those in your community – are ready. This year, many states have updated how voters can cast their ballot with no-excuse absentee ballots, early voting, and other...
August 13, 2020

For everyone, the voting process varies for every state and territory, so every person should check with your local Board of Elections office for voting information especially regarding any changes due to COVID-19. To find your local Board of Elections office, enter your territory or state online where you can then access registration, absentee ballot request forms and more.

Voting while experiencing homelessness does present challenges, but most of these can be overcome with a bit more effort and assistance from the community. All qualified individuals (including those experiencing homelessness) must be allowed to register and vote. Below are just a few tips specifically for voting while homeless that you may find helpful and that may be useful to share within your community.

  • On registering to vote: 19 states require a mailing address to register to vote, and while this is an obstacle, there are generally workarounds to accommodate registration. Additionally, many people experiencing homelessness may not have a precise residential address. Most states do not require a specific residential address but just a general geographical description of where one spends their time will do (i.e. “bench in City Park off I-40”). If an individual is living in a shelter, the address of the center will also work as a residential address. Check with your local Board of Elections office to confirm what is needed.
  • On requesting an absentee ballot/voting by mail: Voters experiencing homelessness in every state can list anywhere they can receive mail as a mailing address for requesting an absentee ballot. Common mailing addresses for those experiencing homelessness include a residential shelter with mail center capabilities, relatives with a house or PO box, and in Oregon and Washington homeless voters can list the election clerk’s office as the mailing address and pick up the ballot there.
    • A note on postage: Most states require the voter to provide postage to return the ballot, though some municipalities have different policies. In states with all mail-in voting systems, they frequently have ballot drop-off locations that do not require postage. Check out the National Conference of State Legislatures for information regarding postage policies. Additionally, it has been the Postal Service policy to deliver ballots even if postage is incorrect or missing.
  • Voting in person: Use this resource to locate your nearest polling station. For many experiencing homelessness or those who move frequently, voting in person is often the best option for casting a ballot. Assisting those experiencing homelessness with casting their vote is also a matter of racial justice: 40% of people experiencing homelessness are Black or African American.  

Explore this resource from the National Coalition for the Homeless to see every states’ policy on voting while homeless.

Additionally, voter service centers are becoming more and more popular across the country offering a potentially more accessible and straightforward alternative to local precincts. While the number of such centers has been growing for some time, more recently, some MLB, NBA and NFL teams are offering their stadiums as an early voting and Election Day voting centers, including teams in Charlotte, Atlanta, Detroit, and Milwaukee.

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For more election engagement resources, visit our civic engagement page.

Write us to get your #VoteFaithfully sticker OR magnet today! eppn@episcopalchurch.org

For everyone, the voting process varies for every state and territory, so every person should check with your local Board of Elections office for voting information especially regarding any changes due to COVID-19. To find your local Board of...
August 5, 2020

Immigration is one of the most important – and divisive – political issues of our time. The policy decisions affect millions of people’s lives, and all our churches and communities, and Americans disagree about what immigration policy should be. The Episcopal Church has long articulated a position that seeks to ensure we have policies that treat all people with dignity, compassion, and welcome. As a Church, we also provide support through direct services, advocacy, and education.

Episcopal Migration Ministries, one key ministry of the Church, resettles refugees in 13 cities across the country, convenes ministry networks on detention and asylum, and offers educational webinars and resources to deepen Episcopalians’ understanding of immigration issues.

Read on to learn more about current immigration issues and how to take action!

DACA/DREAMers

On June 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration’s 2017 attempt to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was illegal. The Court decision found the attempt to rescind the program did not follow proper procedure in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act and was “arbitrary and capricious.” The Supreme Court decision restores the DACA program, allowing for both first-time DACA applications and renewal applications for DACA recipients. On July 28 the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will defy both the Supreme Court’s decision and that of a federal judge and continue refusing new DACA applications, cut DACA renewals from two years to one, and decline to reinstate advance parole.

Through official policy from General Convention, the Church advocates for Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform. In particular, the Church highlights the role of those who are DACA recipients with established roots in the United States. DACA recipients are Episcopal clergy and parishioners, they are healthcare workers and parents and neighbors. We urge Congress to offer DACA recipients a way to have protections to stay in the U.S. legally and ultimately, a pathway to citizenship.

Asylum

On June 15, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a new rule, “Procedures for Asylum and Withholding of Removal; Credible Fear and Reasonable Fear Review.” The proposed rule is one among many actions that have been aimed at severely restricting access to asylum in the U.S., putting the world’s most vulnerable in further danger. These changes to established pathways to protection are a violation of domestic and international human rights law. The Episcopal Church submitted a comment opposing the proposed rule and calling for the legal right to asylum to be upheld.

  • Take Action: Defend Access to Asylum
  • Episcopal Action on Asylum: This webinar highlighted Episcopal Action on Asylum week. A recording of the webinar is available here.

Detention

The Episcopal Church has longstanding policy calling for an end to the inhumane and unjust detention and separation of children and families. As COVID-19 spreads across the United States, with over 4 million verified cases, detention centers continue to unnecessarily expose vulnerable children and families to disease. Public health guidance to socially distance, wear personal protective equipment, and keep areas sanitized is not possible in crowded detention centers. Quality healthcare is not accessible for medically vulnerable detainees exposed to COVID-19. The latest data provided from ICE reveals over 2,700 detainees have tested positive for COVID-19.

Recent court decisions have created an impossible situation for the parents of detained immigrant children. A federal judge in California required ICE to release the roughly 120 children in U.S. immigration custody by Monday, July 27. Last Wednesday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. decided to deny a motion to release all detained immigrant parents and children together. Now, detained parents must decide whether to keep their children with them in detention, or to release them out to sponsors. Some advocates are referring to this situation as “Family Separation 2.0.”

Action: Read The Dangers of Detention During COVID-19. Call your legislator and tell them you oppose family detention!

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Funding

Back in May U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) warned Congress that they faced a $1.2 billion budget shortfall. Due to this budgetary gap, the agency had planned to furlough nearly two-thirds of its 20,000 strong work force. However, in July the agency decided to postpone this furlough for one month, while continuing to press Congress for supplemental funding to fill the budget gap. As of August 3, there are no signs that Congress intends to include the supplemental appropriation in the next round of coronavirus legislation.

Meanwhile, the administration has moved to substantially increase the fees charged to immigrants and businesses that fund USCIS. This includes, for the first time ever, charging those who apply for asylum protections. Raising these fees will make it more difficult for new Americans to obtain citizenship.

Public Charge

On July 29 a federal judge in New York recently enjoined the administration’s new “Public Charge” rule. Public Charge is a long-standing principle of U.S. immigration law that gives immigration officers the power to deny green cards and visas to persons who they deem likely to become dependent on certain government benefits in the future. Since the 1990s Public Charge only applied to direct cash benefits like Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. With the new Trump administration rule, most forms of in-kind assistance would also apply, including Medicaid, Food Stamps, and Section 8 Housing. The judge cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for his decision to enjoin the new rule.

Immigration is one of the most important – and divisive – political issues of our time. The policy decisions affect millions of people’s lives, and all our churches and communities, and Americans disagree about what immigration policy should be....