News briefs - 05/16.2014
Immigrant rights groups decry DHS decision on driver’s licenses
A coalition of immigrant and civil rights groups strongly objected to a decision last week by federal officials to reject the proposed design for a California driver’s license for undocumented immigrants, which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security deemed not to be differentiated enough for security purposes from citizens’ licenses.
Washington authorities want the license to state on its face “that it is not acceptable for official federal purposes,” as opposed to the proposed design which carries a similarly-worded disclaimer on the back. The proposed front of the license has the initials “DP,” for Driving Privilege in contrast to citizens’ licenses which have “DL” for Driver’s License.
The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) was among the groups decrying the ruling on the initial design for driver’s licenses, which are scheduled to be issued by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles no later than January 1, 2015.
“AB 60 was drafted in a balanced way, taking into account federal guidelines and our needs as a state,” said Joseph Villela, CHIRLA’s director of policy. “Pointedly, AB60 was approved by the California Legislature and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown because it prohibits a rush to racial profiling.”
“We’re continuing to work with the DMV and state legislators on holding the line on making the license as free of discrimination as possible for undocumented people,” said Zach Hoover, executive director of LA VOICE, part of the PICO National Network.
“We’ve had extensive conversations with partner congregations who have undocumented members,” he noted. “They are willing to accept a license that is not exactly the same [as for citizens], but they are very concerned about discrimination, especially in areas targeting the undocumented,” such as cities that have not ended 30-day predatory impounds.
“We need to err on the side of safety,” added Hoover. “We don’t need any more families torn apart. The license should be a tool for integration, not discrimination. We want to do everything to mitigate against discrimination up front.”
On June 4, 6-8 p.m., Dolores Mission Church (171 S. Gless St., Los Angeles) will host a public meeting with DMV representative, Lizette Mata, who will discuss proposed regulations on eligibility and required documentation for a driver’s license under AB 60. On June 24, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., a public hearing to receive comments on the proposed regulations will take place in the Junipero Serra Building (Carmel Room), 320 W. Fourth St., Los Angeles.
Bipartisan effort to support persecuted Christians launched
Over 200 Christian representatives from a variety of denominations have united in support of a bipartisan congressional initiative to support Christians facing persecution in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria.
The “Pledge of Solidarity & Call to Action on behalf of Christians and other Small Religious Communities in Egypt, Iraq and Syria,” was launched May 7 by Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.).
The initiative was started to address the silence facing Christians in the Middle East “facing an existential threat to their presence in the lands where Christianity has its roots” due to “abuse and injustice from extremist Islamic forces.”
“Recognizing the spiritual, humanitarian and geopolitical implications of this historic flight, we have joined together to affirm our moral obligation to speak and act in defense of religious freedom for all human beings,” the pledge stated.
The document explained the violence and persecution facing Christians in countries throughout the Middle East, particularly in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria, where Christian refugees have fled due to persecution.
Religious leaders can help counter Boko Haram, U.S. bishops say
U.S. bishops have urged their government to partner with both Christians and Muslims in the country to counter Boko Haram while denouncing the “heinous” kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria.
“Building unity among all Nigerians will help build peace and prosperity for all,” Des Moines Bishop Richard Pates told National Security Adviser Susan Rice in a May 9 letter.
“I am encouraged that the United States Government has taken additional measures to help the Nigerian government bring perpetrators to justice,” continued Bishop Pates, who is chair of the U.S. bishops’ international justice and peace committee.
Members of the radical Islamist group Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 girls, most of them aged between 16 and 18, April 14 from their boarding school in Borno, Nigeria’s northeastern-most state. All but 53 of the girls, who escaped, are still in the hands of their captors.
Pope’s trip to Holy Land a historic milestone, ambassador says
During a press briefing on Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to the Holy Land, the Israeli Ambassador to the Holy See explained that the visit marks an important historical moment both spiritually and politically.
“It will be another milestone of historical importance not only in the relations between Israel and the Holy See, but also between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people,” Dr. Zion Evrony observed in his May 13 address to diplomats and journalists.
“All Israelis, regardless of their religious affiliation, are looking forward to greeting Pope Francis and his delegation with an open heart and most warmly. He will be an honored guest. He will be welcomed as a true friend of the Jewish people.”
Dr. Evrony is the sixth Israeli ambassador to the Holy See following the initiation of diplomatic relations in 1994, and originally presented his credentials to retired pontiff Benedict XVI in 2012.
Noting how he has already met with Pope Francis several times, Dr. Evrony revealed that each time he greets the pontiff with the common phrase “Shalom,” the pope replies to him in Hebrew.
The Tidings will be reporting from the Holy Land during the pope’s trip. Get updates on Twitter @thetidingsnews and check www.angelusnews.com for regular updates.