Be a voice for the voiceless!
Each spring, the InterReligious Task Force takes a student advocacy group to Washington, D.C. to meet with our senators and congresspersons to advocate for peace, human rights, and economic justice in Central America and Colombia. While in Washington, we meet with human rights organizations and learn ways to impact US policies to stop repression and promote economic justice. This is a great chance to learn how our government works.
Students can make their voice heard by joining with IRTF to talk with their legislators about promoting human rights for people in Central America and Colombia! Ask about our scholarship application! Don’t miss this chance to speak truth to power.
When we visit each legislator, we present him or her with a request letter, asking for specific actions on issues or bills. The following is the request letter we had for our elected officials in 2008:
Since our founding—shortly after the murder of the Cleveland church women in El Salvador in 1980—we have listened to the people of Central America (and now Colombia, as well) about how we can best be good neighbors. Consistent with our mission and the legacy of the martyred Ohio women, we promote demilitarized relations with the region and advocate for positive structural changes: economic, political, social. To that end, we respectfully ask that you consider these requests that the people of Central America and Colombia (and we) feel would improve their safety, well-being and hopes for a better future. We appreciate your concern for all of God’s people throughout this hemisphere.
- Co-sponsor H. Res. 618, urging the Colombian government to do more to protect Afro-Colombians from human rights violations and calling on the U.S. government to consult with Afro-Colombians while developing policies that could affect their communities.
- In forthcoming foreign operations bills, please support measures to decrease military aid and fumigation of coca fields; instead, support increases in humanitarian aid for displaced persons and monies for alternative economic development.
- Co-sponsor the Jubilee Act (HR 2634), which would cancel impoverished country debt, prohibit harmful economic and policy conditions on debt cancellation, mandate transparency and responsibility in lending from governments and international financial institutions, call for a new legal framework to restrict the activities of predatory “vulture funds,” and call for a U.S. audit of debts resulting from odious and illegitimate lending.
- Co-sponsor the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act), H.R. 1275, which would provide a path to legal status for undocumented high school graduates who were brought to the United States as children. These students would be eligible for a 6-year conditional status following high school graduation and then be eligible for permanent resident status if they completed 2 or more years of college or military service during this 6-year period.
- Oppose the Secure America with Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act (HR 4088). This is not a comprehensive immigration reform bill, which is needed to include a legalization program, a worker program, and reforms to family immigration. The SAVE Act is an enforcement-only bill that would expand the Basic Pilot program for employers to verify the status of their immigrant workers and increase resources for both border and interior enforcement, including an expansion of detention space. The legislation would also authorize funds to train state and local authorities to enforce immigration law. This bill is insufficient to address the needs of immigrants in this country. (current Ohio co-sponsors: Ryan, Space, Schmidt)
Military Training: School Of Americas (WHINSEC)
- Co-sponsor HR 1707, the Latin America Military Training Review Act of 2007, which would close the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly the School of the Americas) and establish a task force to assess appropriate education and training for Latin American militaries
- Co-sponsor HR 1992, which would prohibit the import, export and sale of goods made with sweatshop labor .