Yesterday, tragedy struck Marshall County High School in western Kentucky, as a 15-year-old student opened fire, killing 2 and wounding 18 others. The victims of the shooting “ranged from 14 to 18 years old”—young people who have (or had) their whole lives in front of them. With such a brutal attack on high school students, you’d expect a nation in mourning, with media outlets covering the violence non-stop.
But you’d be wrong. The story barely broke through the 24/7 Trump news cycle, and most members of Congress didn’t even comment on the tragedy. The President of the United States didn’t say anything at all, even though he spent the morning tweeting. It’s really no surprise that Americans have become so incredibly desensitized to such violence. In fact, the school shooting in Kentucky was the 11th school shooting of 2018—and we are only 24 days into the new year. And it’s not just these mass shootings that are putting young people in the U.S. at such high risk. Teenagers in the U.S. between the ages of 15 to 19 are 82 times more likely to die from gun violence than teenagers in peer countries. And remember: on an average day, 96 Americans are killed with guns.
These statistics are shocking, but once you’ve heard them before, they start to become normalized. But we can take action to prevent future gun violence—we just need our elected officials to have the courage to stand up to the National Rifle Association (NRA). Check out this report to see why policies must be enacted to curb gun violence in America—then call your elected representatives and tell them it’s time to #HonorWithAction!
ACTION OF THE DAY
#ProtectDreamers. On Monday, Congress ended the #TrumpShutdown without any solution for Dreamers. This is unacceptable. The next deadline is now February 8, and, in the meantime, 122 Dreamers are losing their protection every single day. We must continue to stand with Dreamers, and demand that Congress take action. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must be held accountable for his promises to bring legislation to the floor on DACA, and this legislation must provide a permanent solution for Dreamers, without compromising our values by allowing Stephen Miller and his allies to attach their anti-immigrant wishlist. Call your members of Congress today at 202-224-3121! Then, share the graphic below.
Global Gag Rule. A year ago, President Trump used an executive order to reinstate and expand the Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule. First instituted in 1984 by then-President Ronald Reagan and rescinded most recently by then-President Barack Obama in 2009, the global gag rule restricts all U.S. global health aid from being used to support abortion in any way. Under Trump’s policy, U.S.-funded nongovernmental organizations are even restricted from using private, non-U.S. funds to offer abortion care, discuss abortion, or engage in activities to change restrictive abortion laws in the countries in which they work. The reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule will lead to an increase in unsafe abortions and pregnancy-related deaths among women in the poorest countries. Early analysis of the impacts of the policy shows reductions in critical reproductive health services that cannot easily be replaced.
Ditching Collection Agencies. Twelve Senators sent a letter to the Department of Education demanding it justifies the use of private collection agencies for federal student loans. Last year, the federal government paid these contractors almost a billion dollars to recover debt from about 7 million borrowers. But, a piece published today by the Center for American Progress points out that the government spent almost as much on debt collection as it did servicing accounts for 33 million borrowers who are currently in repayment. The column describes the pitfalls of using private collection agencies, and argues that borrowers would be better served by removing them from the student loan system.
Welcoming Communities. Immigrating to the United States can be a challenging journey, but it is made much harder for LGBTQ immigrants. A new report by the Center for American Progress explains the unique challenges that LGBTQ immigrants face, as well as how cities, service providers, and philanthropic organizations can make communities more welcoming to those individuals. Given that LGBTQ unauthorized immigrants make up 17 percent of survivors of anti-LGBTQ hate violence, it is crucial that cities provide a host of services are made available to LGBTQ immigrants to help them feel safe, protected, and assist them in thriving in their new community. As the report details, the types of services necessary include, but are not limited to, legal, health, employment, housing, language access, and education. If the U.S. is to continue to serve as a beacon of hope for LGBTQ immigrants around the world, communities must reform immigration policies and take concrete actions to improve services to ensure they are safe havens.
Second Chances. In November, Florida voters are going to have the opportunity to restore voting rights for more than a million people with a felony record. Over 750,000 signatures were gathered, meaning that the proposed constitutional amendment can now appear on the ballot. As one of only four states with a lifetime ban on voting, the state of Florida’s harsh laws prohibit those with a prior felony conviction from getting a second chance—but Floridians have a chance to change that. Head to SecondChancesFL.org for more information about the ballot initiative and what it could mean for 1 in 10 Floridians.