HRI Announces CLE – 12/12/18

TAKING A CASE WITH HUMAN RIGHTS INITIATIVE:
VAWA, SIJS, U-VISA, AND ASYLUM

When human rights are being violated,
When the refugee crisis has escalated at our borders,
When what is good and what is right is being pushed aside –

REMEMBER YOU HAVE THE POWER TO BE THE CHANGE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IN YOUR WORLD!

This is a critical time to do critical work. We uphold the laws and vision upon which our country was founded. We are proud to be American. We are proud of our Community.

ATTEND OUR NEXT CLE!

1.5 CLE CREDITS WITH .25 ETHICS CREDIT

12/12/18
2801 Swiss Ave., Dallas, TX 75204
12 P.M.

Contact Layne Faulkner for more details!
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For the past 19 years, HRI has provided 100% free legal and social services to vulnerable immigrants and refugees. We believe that immigrant rights are human rights, and that families belong together. Our extensive network includes pro-bono lawyers, volunteer social workers, and community helpers. Our successful business model quintuples every penny we receive. THANK YOU for believing in us. THANK YOU for supporting us. THANK YOU for being our Community.

 

Volunteer Training: 12/19/18!

When human rights are being violated,
When the refugee crisis has escalated at our borders,
When what is good and what is right is being pushed aside –

REMEMBER YOU HAVE THE POWER TO BE THE CHANGE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IN YOUR WORLD!

This is a critical time to do critical work. We uphold the laws and vision upon which our country was founded. We are proud to be American. We are proud of our Community.

VOLUNTEER FOR US!

Volunteer Training: 12/19/18
2801 Swiss Ave., Dallas, TX 75204
9:30 – 10:30 AM/5:30 – 6:30 PM

Contact Layne Faulkner for more details!
*
*
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For the past 19 years, HRI has provided 100% free legal and social services to vulnerable immigrants and refugees. We believe that immigrant rights are human rights, and that families belong together. Our extensive network includes pro-bono lawyers, volunteer social workers, and community helpers. Our successful business model quintuples every penny we receive. THANK YOU for believing in us. THANK YOU for supporting us. THANK YOU for being our Community.

 

Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh

Human Rights Initiative is deeply saddened and heartbroken by the violence against the Jewish community at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. We extend our solidarity and deepest condolences to the Jewish community affected by this attack.
 
We have had many great connections with local Jewish Congregations. We are thankful that our Board of Directors was once led by Rabbi Asher Knight, a stalwart champion of justice, tolerance, and a wonderful spiritual leader. We stand in solidarity with all our Jewish friends here in Dallas and elsewhere. We also stand in awe of Jewish community support for immigrants, refugees and vulnerable groups of all times. We admire the local Jewish Leaders who are involved with Faith Forward Dallas, Dallas Area Interfaith and Faith in Texas with their work for interfaith dialog.
 
As an agency we stand in solidarity for any group targeted by hate. We stand with our Muslim Friends when they are victims of Islamophobia or the travel ban. We stand with LGBTQ individuals when they are targeted with hate and discrimination. For 18 years we have defended the legal rights of people fleeing persecution in their land of birth. We are no less supportive when persecution rears its ugly head here in the US.
 
We believe this country at its best is loving, accepting and just. We join ourselves indivisibly from our Jewish neighbors.
 
Shalom. Salaam. Paz.
Peace.

“…don’t give way to hating…”

 

“If you can keep your head when all about you  

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,  

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;  

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating…”

                                                                    (Kipling)

On Friday, one of our clients will be sworn in as a U.S. citizen. As the HRI family shared the news happily with each other, our director of Social Services, Zainab Ellis, shared a letter that he wrote to the HRI staff many years ago.

“I came in America totally destroyed, overwhelmed by humiliation, despair, unworthiness, fear, anxiety, guilt, nightmares, feeling of suicide but you wiped my tears and like a mother hen, you covered me with your wings to keep me alive…

As a lawyer, I learned from you how “pro bono” can be well managed and give a remarkable result.  I’ve also seen during my process how hard asylum process is but your legal expertise and services provided to your clients in meantime make it bearable.  You were permanently there to work with my dear pro bono attorneys in making my case stronger. And when my interview was set, you made it easier by your helpful practice session.

Many thanks to you again; what you did is not only save a man who suffered the worst in his life but also a fight, a noble struggle of respect of human rights in my country, Democratic Republic of Congo which must be one day free of  tyrants.

I know you deserve more than this simple letter of thanks but this is the only way in my power right now to express you my gratitude, please accept it.

You will remain engraved in my memory for ever. God bless you All…”

“Or being hated, don’t give way to hating…”
“Or being hated, don’t give way to hating…”
“Or being hated, don’t give way to hating…”

For the past 18 years, HRI has provided 100% free legal and social services to vulnerable immigrants and refugees. We believe that immigrant rights are human rights, and that families belong together. We are an extensive network of pro-bono lawyers, volunteer social workers, and community helpers. Our successful business model quintuples every penny we receive. THANK YOU for believing in us. THANK YOU for supporting us. THANK YOU for being our Community.

Don’t miss the chance to Rock Your HeART Out at our signature fundraising event! Our 3rd annual Rock Your HeART Out Concert & Art Auction is on October 27th, featuring award-winning big-barrio-band Bombasta, and Rolling Stone favorite artist Lisa Morales! Do not miss this event! BUY TICKETS HERE.  To learn more, visit www.rockyourheartout.org.

Volunteer Training 10/17/18!

When human rights are being violated,
When the refugee crisis has escalated at our borders,
When what is good and what is right is being pushed aside –

REMEMBER YOU HAVE THE POWER TO BE THE CHANGE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IN YOUR WORLD!

This is a critical time to do critical work. We uphold the laws and vision upon which our country was founded. We are proud to be American. We are proud of our Community.

VOLUNTEER FOR US!

Volunteer Training: 10/17/18
2801 Swiss Ave., Dallas, TX 75204
9:30 – 10:30 AM/5:30 – 6:30 PM

Contact Layne Faulkner for more details!
*
*
*
For the past 18 years, HRI has provided 100% free legal and social services to vulnerable immigrants and refugees. We believe that immigrant rights are human rights, and that families belong together. Our extensive network includes pro-bono lawyers, volunteer social workers, and community helpers. Our successful business model quintuples every penny we receive. THANK YOU for believing in us. THANK YOU for supporting us. THANK YOU for being our Community.

Thank you, September!

If I were knew for certain, my fellowman – my friend.

If I knew that the decay of your desolate heart,

Melancholy of your eyes, agony of your soul

Will rest with my care and my love –

If my redemptive words can

Rejuvenate your abandoned mind,

If they can wash away the marks of humiliation,

If your dejected youth resuscitates

If I knew for certain, my fellowman – my friend… (Faiz Ahmed Faiz)

We fought harder when the current administration threw amendments at the Flores Settlement Agreement, putting immigrant children’s welfare in danger. We laughed louder when our young clients showed us how to *dab* properly. We showed up smarter, more determined and focused.

Each day in the past month, we experienced soaring heights such as our Children’s Program director Marcela Evans was recognized as Outstanding Pro-bono Lawyer. Each day in the past month, we experienced crushing lows when Marketing and Special Events’ Maryam Baig hosted a talk-back for Cara Mia Theatre Co., about DACA, where several high-school students wept inconsolably because they are undocumented.

How do we make sense of the current situation in our country. How do we do the right thing?

If I knew for certain, my fellowman – my friend…

But we do know for certain.

We know that immigrant rights are human rights and that families belong together. We know that Dreamers should be given a home and that human rights violations are abhorrent. Which is why HRI does not back down – Which is why HRI does not give up – Which is HRI will continue to stand up for Humanity.

Join us.

Donate. Advocate. Volunteer.

2 Donor-Advised funds – 211 Online donors -18 Hours

HRI staff on North Texas Giving Day where we raised $37,552.54 thanks to the genrosity of our community! Thank you for your Heart!

Our Case Management Coordinator and Legal Assitant, Zeyla Gonzalez, represented HRI at World Peace Day, held on 9/15/2018, at Arts Mission Oakcliff.

Board President Aubrey Meyers and Executive Director Bill Holston after an intense HRI war-room session!

(Read: they had coffee and discussed all things HRI)

Marketing and Special Events’s Maryam Baig hosted a talk-back in favor of DACAmented; A Wetback’s Journey, for Cara Mia Theatre Co. Pictured with her here are high-school students from Women’s Leadership Academy, Fort Worth and performer and creator Alex Alpharaoh, who will make a special appearance at HRI’s Rock Your HeART Out 2018! Do not miss!

RYHO2018’s Storytellers are hard at work. Artist Daniel Avazpour graciously shared his process with HRI recently. Which journey will Avazpour’s art illuminate? Do not miss RYHO2018!

Mate Monday at University of Dallas is an informal, yet scholarly dialogue on issues related to Latin America and Latin-American communities in the U.S. Recently they hosted a gathering, featuring an all-HRI panel. Asylum Attorney Pilar Ferguson, Immigrant children’s Program Manager Elisandra de la Cruz and Volunteer Coordinator Layne Faulkner shared information about HRI and ways by which the community at UD can help.

HRI hosted its 4th annual Employment Workshop, in partnership with InterNations who work extremely hard on producing this event. Also, big thanks to Secret Recipe, who once again donated all the lunch that was enough to pack to-go for dinner for many of the candidates. Chef Alex Ong, the owner/head chef, has been extremely generous in his support of HRI and this is the 4th year that he has donated the food for this workshop.

https://plano.secretrecipetx.com/

HRI family decided to take a breather at the end of the month. Deep conversation over delicious beverages made for a great evening.

Volunteer of the Month – Kelsey Rademaker

HRI successfully follows its mission of providing 100% free legal and social services to vulnerable immigrants and refugees, thanks to hundreds of hours donated by our volunteers. However, some of our volunteers do not fall in the legal or social services category, and today we are proud to introduce you to a volunteer outside those two circles.
Kelsey Rademaker came to us with an open heart and a dedicated work ethic. She cheerfully took on designing images and logos for our upcoming event, Rock Your HeART Out 2018 Kelsey blew us away with prompt delivery of beautiful creative! We loved her work so much that we made it the center-point of our RYHO2018 campaign. Thank you for your amazing work, Kelsey! RYHO2018 is scheduled for October 27th, 2018.
How did you first hear about HRI? *
Online News Article
What is your driving force in volunteering with our agency? *
I was heartbroken when I heard about the families being separated at the border. I wanted to find something active that I could do to help immigrant families, and was overjoyed to learn about HRI and their mission right here in my backyard.
Please briefly share an ‘aha moment’ (a moment of discovery or insight) that stood out to you during your time with HRI. *
When I first came in and met with everyone in person and saw the slogan “Immigrant Rights Are Human Rights” I knew I found the right people and cause to give my time to.
What is something you have learned from your experience representing HRI?
There is a wonderful community of people right here in Dallas that care just as much as I do and are enormously talented and dedicated to helping those in need. After being so discouraged by the news and feeling hopeless, this is exactly what I needed to boost my hope for this country and humanity.
Anything else you would like to share about volunteering here at HRI? *
You won’t find a kinder and more dedicated staff than the folks at HRI. There is a ton of heart at their core and I am proud to have the opportunity to work with them.
Personal Fun Fact: When I’m not creating art I enjoy reading and playing games with my family.

Artists and Musicians Announced for RYHO2018!

Texas Musicians and Artists Come Together to Share and Celebrate the Lives of Vulnerable Immigrant Individuals and Families at the “3rd Annual Rock Your HeART Out Concert & Art Auction” on Oct. 27th

Local artists and immigrant survivors of violence team up to create art for the auction; proceeds benefit vulnerable immigrants served locally by Human Rights Initiative

Human Rights Initiative of North Texas (HRI) announces Bombasta, Texas Music Magazine’s 2013 Artist of the Year winner from San Antonio, will headline its third annual Rock Your HeART Out Concert and Art Auction (RYHO 2018), providing a Latin mix of salsa, bachata and hip-hop while attendees bid to own a one-of-a-kind works of art by local artists paired with past HRI clients. The event celebrates HRI’s immigrant individuals and families who have survived various human rights abuses, from torture to sexual assault.

HRI is also tremendously exited to announce Lisa Morales as the opening act.

Drawing from a creative palette informed by the rhythms, colors and flavors of the Southwest — from the painted-desert skies of her native Tucson, Arizona, where she grew up, to the sea-salted air of Houston, where she moved at 18, and the history-filled city of San Antonio, where she now lives — singer-songwriter Lisa Morales’s soulful exploration of weathered relationships will mesmerize you.

Here’s what Rolling Stones magazine says about Ms. Morales: https://buff.ly/2xLNQBK

The event is Saturday, October 27, 2018 at 8 p.m. at Life in Deep Ellum (2803 Taylor St, Dallas, TX, 75226.) Tickets prices vary from $20 to $50 and include open beer and wine bar. Tickets may be purchased at www.rockyourheartout.org.

This year, eleven teams of local artists and former HRI clients will pair up to create unique pieces for the silent auction, each of which will shed light on the immigrant journey to freedom. Last year, photographer Treena Muir, wowed the audience with a trio of photographs based on the journey of HRI client, Daniela. Luz Pictura, a film production company, captured the creation of the artwork in this mini-documentary.

Artists for RYHO2018 were selected through an intensive application process that was over-seen by HRI’s Artistic Advisory Board, which is made up of Board Members, Local Artists, Philanthropists and Community Leaders. This year’s artists include: Can Turkyilmaz, Manal Fashi, Tierra Firme: Analise Minjarez & Sarita Westrup, Jordan Fraker, Jessi Cole, Gwen Meharg, Laura Tamayo, Denise Lion, Yva Barbour, Jimmie Hudson, and Daniel Avazpour.

“I am incredibly moved by and learn from our clients every day. Seeing the unimaginable hardships they endure and the mountains they climb is remarkable and inspiring,” says Bill Holston, HRI Executive Director. “During this time fraught with separation and divide, our hope is that Rock Your HeART Out brings us closer together through music, art, and humanity.”

All proceeds from the 2018 Rock Your HeART Out Concert & Art Auction will be used toward vital legal and social services for immigrants in the North Texas area. Because of HRI’s unique pro bono model, every dollar coming into the agency is multiplied by nearly five (5) times through the service donations of our volunteer attorneys. In 2017, volunteers donated over $4.2 Million in legal services to HRI clients.

 RYHO 2018 is sponsored by Carol and Don Glendenning / Locke Lord, AT&T, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer LLP, Thompson and Knight Foundation, Hunton & Williams, Petrotel, Inc., Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. McGlinchey Stafford, Holland & Knight LLP, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP.

 About Human Rights Initiative of North Texas

Human Rights Initiative of North Texas is a local nonprofit organization serving Dallas’ most vulnerable population: immigrants and asylum seekers. Founded in 2001, HRI provides free legal and social services to immigrants and asylum seekers in Dallas-Fort Worth who have been tortured and abused and are living below the poverty line. Along with a network of more than 600 pro bono attorneys and HRI Ambassadors, HRI has seen hundreds of defenseless immigrants through to safety and security within the U.S. borders. Many of our clients have become successful business owners, teachers, nurses, and independent contributing members of the community. For more information about the event, visit or follow us at www.rockyourheartout.org, www.facebook.com/RYHODallas/, or www.instagram.com/ryhodallas/.  For more information about HRI, visit or follow us at www.hrionline.org, www.facebook.com/HRIOnline, www.instagram.com/humanrightsinitiative.

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NOTE TO MEDIA MEMBERS: You may download captioned high-res images from last year’s event including art works here: www.facebook.com/RYHODallas.

TWO MAGICAL SISTERS

We want to tell you a Story.
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About a pair of magical twin-sisters, who faced horrors beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.
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We want to tell you a Story.
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Of heartbreak and hopelessness, of defeat.
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We want to tell you a Story.
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Of tears, of violence, of what we wish never happens to anyone’s children.
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We could tell you that Story.
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But today, HRI wants to tell you about that moment in the Story, when the magical twin-sisters broke into the most beautiful laughter. Today, HRI wants you to know that those two magical twin-sisters are finally Safe. Today, HRI wants you to realize that immigrant rights are human rights and that families belong together.
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For the past 18 years, HRI has provided 100% free legal and social services to vulnerable immigrants and refugees. We are able to this because of our extensive network of Probono Lawyers and volunteer Professionals. HRI is able to do this because You support us. Thank you for your Support. Thank you for being our Community. Thank you for choosing what’s right over what’s difficult.
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Want to help? Look us up on North Texas Giving Day. Keep families safe and together.
https://buff.ly/2oygjXL

The Current Administration Wants To Bypass Rules That Protect Immigrant Children

Read what Executive Director Bill Holston had to say in this op-ed to The Dallas Morning News.

Here is the more detailed version of that article.

The current administration has released draft regulations to terminate the child welfare protections in the Flores Settlement Agreement.; a court decision passed in 1997 and modified in 2015. Under the Flores Settlement Agreement, immigrant minors can’t be held in jail-like settings and there are sharp limits on how long the government can detain children.

THE FLORES SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT:

  • limits the government’s ability to indefinitely incarcerate immigrant children
  • requires licensing by state child protection authorities of facilities that hold them
  • The government is also required to release children from immigration detention without unnecessary delay to, in order of preference, parents, other adult relatives, or licensed programs willing to accept custody.
  • If a suitable placement is not immediately available, the government is obligated to place children in the “least restrictive” setting appropriate to their age and any special needs
  • Holds the government responsible to implement standards relating to the care and treatment of children in immigration detention

CURRENT ADMINISTRATION PROPOSED REGULATIONS:

The Justice Department had asked the federal court for permission “to detain alien families together throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings for improper entry or any removal or other immigration proceedings.”

WHAT THIS MEANS:

These proposed regulations, published in the Federal Register Sept. 7TH, are an attempt to strip legal protections from families and children seeking refuge in the United States. This move comes just months after the administration attempted to discourage illegal immigration by separating migrant families at the border, but then backed down because of the resulting uproar. As of last week, nearly 500 children were still in government-run shelters without their parents.

HOW DOES THIS CHANGE OUR TREATMENT OF IMMIGRANT CHILDREN?

Bypassing the Flores Settlement Agreement is a fundamental change in the way our government is required to treat immigrant children. The agreement was the conclusion of years of litigation, including an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. The proposed rules would set up a self-licensing scheme for the federal government where the current administration could certify its own detention facilities and allow for the indefinite incarceration of children with their parents in facilities that fail to meet the current minimum standards for keeping children safe. The proposed regulations would also change current practice, as defined by the Flores agreement and subsequent court rulings, to allow indefinite detention of children in facilities that have not been licensed by the states for child care. This includes holding them in private prisons that operate under the federal government’s standards.

The administration has already failed to protect children in federal detention even with Flores protections in place. Children regularly suffer cruel and abusive treatment in federal custody, including in family detention facilities, where they have been starved, taunted, physically and sexually assaulted and forced to strip naked.

DETENTION FAILS:

  1. In July, a federal judge ordered the Trump Administration to remove children from a detention center that was using psychotropic drugs as a “chemical straitjacket” — just one example of the torture children experience in detention.
  2. At the Karnes family detention center in Texas, which incarcerates recently reunited families, authorities intentionally recreated trauma for children by tearing them away from their parents again to punish parents for protesting inhumane treatment.
  3. Toddler Marie Juarez died last month after inhumane and negligent treatment in an ICE detention center, where she was detained with her mother.

WHY IS THIS A BAD IDEA?

The Department of Homeland Security’s own advisory committee, which was formed to advise ICE and DHS on how to improve family detention, recommended against the use of family detention and the detention of children, stating “detention is generally neither appropriate nor necessary for families…detention or the separation of families for purposes of immigration enforcement or management are never in the best interest of children.”

“This is an administration that has not complied with the settlement agreement as it is,” Michelle Brane, the director of Migrant Rights and Justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission, told NPR. “So to have them now say we don’t need any more court oversight and we will oversee ourselves is frankly appalling,” said Brane.

“The Trump administration is seeking to dismantle established safeguards and protections for children and to lock them up indefinitely in unlicensed and inhumane facilities. What the administration is calling ‘legal loopholes’ are actually basic standards for protecting children — standards they are trying to scrap to pursue an agenda of family incarceration that the government’s own doctors have warned is harmful and dangerous for children.”

Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer noted: “Once again the Trump Administration is targeting Central American families seeking refugee protection in the United States. These proposed regulations are yet another shameless attempt to paint the indefinite incarceration of families—in facilities not even licensed by state child protection authorities—as somehow necessary to keep families together. But this is a false choice that purposefully evades real solutions. Locking up families seeking refugee protection in immigration jails for months or longer is not a solution, it is just another humanitarian and political fiasco,”

She continued: “The same administration that forcibly separated children from their parents and knowingly inflicted trauma on them cannot be allowed to set the standard of care for immigrant children.  Instead of allowing the Trump administration to lock children up, Congress must subpoena and investigate the administration officials responsible for policies that subject children to harm and hold the perpetrators accountable for human rights abuses.”

“These proposed regulations are an abomination,” said Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of CLINIC. “Detaining children is inhumane and a violation of all that we hold dear as a nation that has long promised to protect the most vulnerable in society.”

IS DETENTION THE SOLUTION?

Detention is wholly unnecessary to ensure that refugee families attend their court hearings. On the contrary, families and children with legal counsel overwhelmingly appear in immigration court, with 97 percent of represented mothers whose cases were initiated in fiscal year 2014 complying with immigration court hearing obligations. Similarly, 98 percent of children whose cases were initiated in 2014 and who were represented by legal counsel were in full compliance with their court appearance obligations as of December 2017.

ALTERNATIVES TO DETENTION SUCCESSES:

Alternative to detention programs also lead to extremely high appearance rates. For example, community-based case management programs piloted by Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services have shown high compliance rates of 96 to 97 percent. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Family Case Management Program, which provided case worker support to families, led to 99 percent compliance with court appearances and ICE appointments. The Trump Administration discontinued the program despite these high success rates.

“Mass incarceration of vulnerable families is also a massive waste of government resources. Instead of jailing families in costly detention facilities, their cases can be overseen through cost-effective and proven case management systems. But the ICE family case management system was mysteriously canceled last year,” added Acer.

Human Rights First notes that detention of children—even for short periods of time—leads to long-lasting negative mental and physical health outcomes. The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned that even a few days in immigration detention facilities is harmful to the health of children. Human Rights First documented in a series of reports the inadequate medical care of children in detention.

Secretary Nielsen’s claims that Flores legal standards limiting the length of detention are the reason families are coming to the United States are simply specious and ignore the reality on the ground. The U.N. Refugee Agency has documented that families and children fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador have urgent protection needs, reporting a significant increase in numbers fleeing to neighboring countries. If the United States continues using harsh policies, other nations that host many more refugees may follow suit, triggering additional displacement.

“There are far less costly and much more humane alternatives to detaining children and families,” Atkinson said. “We are better than this.”

Indeed. We Are Better Than This.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

None of these regulations will take effect until a final rule is published.

Public comments are now open on the DHS and HHS’s proposed regulations. HRI and other national community partners will provide a detailed comment on the legal and moral ramifications of these proposed changes. If you are a part of an organization that would like to present a comment as well, run it by your leadership for permission and watch this space. We will provide guidelines, resources, model language and procedural information on how to become a part of this dialogue.

ABOUT THIS ARTICLE: This article was researched and put together through various sources, including CLINIC, a publication of Catholic Charities and NPR, among many.