Social Justice Advocacy as a Lenten Practice: Support Aid to Palestinians and Protect Asylum Seekers

March 22, 2005

“Almighty God, kindle, we pray, in every heart the true love of peace, and guide with your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth,” from the Good Friday Liturgy, Book of Common Prayer.

The U.S. Senate will soon consider the FY ’05 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act. When they do, we are asking that the Senate remove two provisions in that Supplemental: one provision seriously undermines progress on a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine; and the second denies the safety and protection this nation has historically offered to persecuted persons. Please ask your Senators to support removing the restrictions placed on aid to the Palestinians and to strip the REAL ID Act from the '05 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill.


Aid to the Palestinians
The President has asked for $200 million in aid for the Palestinian Authority in the '05 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act. Strengthening the economy of the Palestinians is essential for the dream of two states – Palestine and Israel – existing side-by-side in peace. The House Appropriations Committee has attached restrictions to that aid – restrictions that were never used during the time of Yasser Arafat – and removed the President's ability to lift the ban on direct aid to the Palestinian Authority when he deems it necessary for national security.


REAL ID Act
This Act invokes security and the threat of terrorism as the basis for new measures to make asylum more difficult to obtain. The bill places many refugees, including those fleeing religious and political persecution, at risk of being returned to their country of origin and potential torture or death. This legislation rejects the United States tradition as a place where victims of persecution can find a haven from violence. The current system already acts as a sufficient safeguard against misuse by any prospective abusers of asylum.


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