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News from the Rutgers Social Work Policy Network
January 26, 2021

The Social Work Policy Network sends weekly resources regarding national & local legislature, events, as well as media. Today, we focus on environmental justice, impacts of Covid-19, Biden's executive orders & more. 

We first want to share excerpts from, As Social Workers, What Is the Justice We Seek? by Alan Dettlaf
"As we begin 2021, we have just witnessed an assault on the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob of insurrectionists like we’ve never seen...Layered on top of this was the painful recognition that the minimal response to these rioters by the Capitol Police stood in sharp contrast to the police response that many peaceful protestors faced this past summer following the murder of George Floyd...

The injustice we see serves as a continual reminder of the deep problems of racism and White supremacy that plague our country. As social workers, we must continue to stand strongly and firmly against the injustice we see and call out racism and White supremacy wherever they exist....

Boldly reimagining our concept of justice reaffirms the need for liberation from the systems that fail to deliver justice time and again."

Read more of Dettlaf's timely article.

New Jersey Upates
State of the State 2021 - Rapid Reaction, NJPP: Review New Jersey Policy Perspective's response to Governor Murphy's SOTS Address of 2021. Review how NJPP staff celebrated important aspects of Murphy's speech, such as his recognition of the interconnections in health, economy, and social inequities. This analysis also emphasizes the shortcomings of the Murphy administration. Don't miss out on this important read.

Inauguration 2021: How Biden’s 1st-day executive orders will have a big impact on N.J., During his initial hours in the white house, President Biden signed numerous executive orders. The impact of these decisions will likely be felt among many NJ residents. Executive order topics include Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), environmental protection, the US census, and the Muslim ban. 

Driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants should be available by May 1, NJ says, North Jersey: In late 2019, Gov. Murphy signed legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to receive NJ drivers licenses. Due to Covid-19, the State Motor Vehicle Commission did not meet the January 1, 2021 deadline to implement this policy. MVC now claims May 1, 2021 to be their new anticipated deadline for the rollout of licenses. Meanwhile, communities of undocumented NJ residents have been hit hard with the impacts of the pandemic.

After Murphy veto, a scaled-back bid to update welfare benefits, NJ1015: "Unlike the bill passed last year but rejected by the governor because of its indeterminate and non-budgeted costs, the new legislation would not increase monthly welfare benefits by the pace of inflation plus one-third of the gap between the benefit amount and half the federal poverty level."

NJ sues federal government, saying ‘forever chemicals’ at military bases polluted drinking water, NJ Spotlight: "In 2019, the DOD found the chemicals in groundwater at 651 military bases nationwide. They include the sprawling joint base in New Jersey where testing in 2016 found combined levels of the two chemicals as high as 264,300 parts per trillion (ppt). That’s thousands of times higher than the 70 ppt set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a 'Lifetime Health Advisory' for safe human consumption..."

Lawsuit Challenges Party Machine Control of NJ Ballots, WNYC: "A group of outsider candidates are teaming up with some of New Jersey’s leading progressive activists and throwing their weight behind a lawsuit that argues the state’s ballot design is unconstitutional."

National Updates
The 50-50 Senate is already running into trouble figuring out its rules, Vox: "Because Democrats control the White House, they have the majority in an evenly divided Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris poised to serve as a tiebreaker. To officially determine how the Senate will function when it comes to things like committee memberships, lawmakers need to approve what’s known as an organizing resolution that lays out these rules. But the divided chamber can’t even agree on that."

Can The Senate Try An Ex-President?, NPR: "The Constitution says that after the House of Representatives votes to impeach a president or any other civil officer, the case is sent to the Senate for a trial, which "shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification" from future office. Conviction requires a two-thirds vote, but barring Trump from future office would take only a majority vote."

US supreme court reinstates restrictions on abortion pill, Guardian: "Justices lift an order that had suspended rule requiring in-person visits during Covid crisis. Groups representing tens of thousands of physicians, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, sued the FDA in May, saying that requiring in-person visits to pick up a pill needlessly exposes patients, doctors, and workers to a greater risk of contracting Covid".

Human rights group urges New York to ban police use of facial recognition, Guardian: "The technology has repeatedly come up short in tests for racial bias and has been restricted in other major cities across the US. Facial recognition technology amplifies racist policing, threatens the right to protest and should be banned globally, Amnesty International said as it urged New York City to pass a ban on its use in mass surveillance by law enforcement."

Dismantling white privilege starts with undoing racist housing policies, Brookings: "Racially restrictive housing covenants that prohibited Black people from buying homes in certain areas throughout the 20th century and racially biased redlining from the 1930s through the passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act all resulted in lower levels of investment for Black neighborhoods than their white counterparts. Our housing data shows the need to shelve the narrative that home values in Black neighborhoods reflect the behaviors of the residents."

Biden-Harris Administration
As Biden Axes KXL Pipeline, Water Protectors Urge Him to Reject DAPL and Line 3, Truthout: Indigenous and environmental activists have highlighted the urgency of this situation. If completed, the Line 3 expansion is slated to cut across several tribal reservations, 200 water bodies, and 800 wetlands along its northern Minnesota route to deliver tar sands crude from Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, before ending at a terminal in Superior, Wisconsin."
Learn more about Line 3 from Winona LaDuke & Learn about the environmental & human impacts of Line 3

Biden’s LGBTQ rights executive order and the transphobic backlash, explained, Vox: "The executive order’s legal reasoning is simple - Take last summer’s Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, which ruled that LGBTQ people are protected from sex discrimination in employment decisions under Title XII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and apply it wherever sex is a protected class in federal law." But, there are limits to this order.

Biden repeals Trump-era ban on transgender military service, Politico: "The change in policy, the latest of Biden’s moves to undo Trump’s orders, was announced by the White House before the ceremonial swearing-in of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. The move reinstates an Obama-era policy that allowed transgender individuals to openly serve in the military."

Biden’s Immigration Declarations Open Up New Political Terrain for Organizers, Truthout: "On his first day in office, President Biden announced a series of executive orders that included a reversal of some of former President Donald Trump’s most hardline immigration policies."

Biden is starting to roll back Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” program, Vox: "The Biden administration announced that it will no longer enroll asylum seekers newly arriving on the southern border in a Trump-era program that has forced tens of thousands to wait in Mexico for a chance to obtain protection in the United States."

Biden’s planned actions on reproductive health care, explained, Vox: "On January 28, he is reportedly slated to repeal the policy sometimes known as the “global gag rule,” which bans groups abroad that receive US aid from performing or even discussing abortion. Also called the Mexico City policy, it was first enacted by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. It then became something of a political light switch, turned off by every Democratic president and on by every Republican."

The COVID Racial Data Tracker, The Covid Tracking Project: "COVID-19 is affecting Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color the most. The COVID Racial Data Tracker is a collaboration between the COVID Tracking Project and the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. Together, this team is gathering the most complete and up-to-date race and ethnicity data on COVID-19 in the US."

Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Just Ended. It Needs to Be Restored, Truthout: "Women, workers of color, and low-wage workers will be hardest-hit by the loss of mandatory benefits. They are heavily represented in frontline jobs and women tend to shoulder family care-giving responsibilities."

Executive Action on Food Assistance Strengthens Federal Response to Hunger, CBPP: "The President’s executive order to address food hardship is a strong response to families’ immediate hardship during the COVID crisis and takes an important step, consistent with congressional direction from the 2018 Farm Bill, to re-evaluate the adequacy of SNAP benefits in helping low-income Americans afford an adequate diet."

A Look at What’s in Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan, NY Times: "The president-elect is rolling out a large spending package aimed at helping battle the virus and alleviate the economic toll it has taken."

On Day 2, Biden Focuses On COVID-19 Strategy With 10 Executive Actions: "Accelerating the sluggish federal response to COVID-19 is Biden's top priority, and he has promised 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days."

Action Opportunity: Contact Your Legislator
Get Involved With Our NJ for Affordable Drugs Campaign!
Big Pharma hiked the prices of 636 drugs in the first week of January. 95% of hikes were on brand name drugs. 99% of hikes were above the inflation rate. More than 100 companies hiked prices.
Prescription drug prices are skyrocketing across New Jersey and the United States. In the first week of January alone, pharmaceutical companies raised the prices more than four times inflation on over 600 drugs.

High prescription drug prices have serious and real effects on our community. Research shows that 1 in 3 Americans report not taking their medication as prescribed due to cost and 1 in 5 New Jersey adult residents do not fill a prescription, cut pills in half, or skip a dose due to drug affordability. This is unacceptable; drugs don't work if you can't afford them.

Learn more about the NJ for Affordable Drug Campaign & Contact your Legislators today!.

Professional Opportunities
CBPP State Policy Fellowship
Center for Budget and Policy Priorities
A project of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the State Policy Fellowship identifies highly motivated candidates – with a priority for fellows whose identities and experiences are underrepresented in state policy debates – to research policies that advance economic and racial justice.

To apply for a State Policy Fellowship, please complete this application form and submit the required materials by February 19, 2021. If you have questions, please contact Eric Figueroa at

Learn more about the CBPP State Policy Fellowship here.

Digital Communications Manager (Full Time)
NJ Policy Perspective

The Digital Communications Manager will be responsible for the development and daily execution of NJPP’s digital and video strategy. This is an ideal fit for a creative and digital media-savvy individual who enjoys translating complex policy topics into stories that entertain as much as they inform.

Please send your resume, cover letter, and portfolio of work to with the subject line “[Last name] - Digital Communications Manager” by February 22, 2021. In lieu of a portfolio, please link to or attachment three examples of your work with a brief description of your role in the project.

Learn more about NJPP's Digital Communications Manager position here.

Kathleen Crotty Fellowship
NJ Policy Perspective
The Kathleen Crotty Fellowship honors Kathy’s legacy by providing an eager, self-motivated student committed to public service with an intensive summer experience working in New Jersey policy and advocacy, under the guidance of experienced mentors at NJPP. Crotty Fellows participate actively in the research and writing of reports, op-eds and blog posts for publication, and will join NJPP analysts in outreach and coalition work. Fellows should come away with experience and networks to help them launch successful careers in New Jersey public service. Fellows receive a $10,000 stipend.

Please send your cover letter, resume and writing sample to by March 1 using the subject line format: “Crotty Fellowship 2021 – [Your last name].” Finalists will be contacted by March 8 to schedule an interview. The Fellow will be notified by April 5. No phone calls, please.

Learn more about the Crotty Fellowship here.

Upcoming Events
The Embodied Social Justice Summit
January 27 - 31 via Zoom (Review session times via website)
During this event we’ll explore some of the most potent questions of our time:
How can we reimagine and embrace new forms of activism?

  • How do we take effective action in the world to respond to social justice issues?  
  • How do we become the change we wish to see, and what does it look like from an embodied perspective? 
  • How can we stay grounded and centered and increase our capacity for sustainable change? 

Free. Registration Required

Punishing Places: The Geography of Mass Imprisonment in America
Thursday, January 28 (1:15 - 2:30 pm via Zoom)

Jessica Simes, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Boston University

Free. No Registration Required. Zoom login below:
Webinar ID: 993 7250 4129
Passcode: 899780 
Or join via telephone:
US: +1 646 558 8656  or +1 301 715 8592

Social Work, White Supremacy & Race: Addressing Racism from within the Social Work Profession: Reflections on our Past and Present (Part 2)
January 28 & 29, 2021 (12:30 - 4:30 PM via Zoom)

Part 2 of this 4-part series will provide accounts of how the profession has evolved to begin to confront racism. What have social workers, leaders, and scholars done to challenge the dominant paradigm? From the advent of the National Association of Black Social Workers to innovations in practice, policy, and social work education, this session will address the numerous leaders and discourses that have challenged racism and moved the profession forward.

Free. Registration Required.

A Dream of Kikeokàn/Kuponya: Black and Native American Healing
Sunday, January 31 (6 – 8:00 PM via Zoom)

The Black Student Union and Cultural Center Collaborative at Rutgers–New Brunswick have joined together to celebrate Black History Month and honor Native American heritage. The event’s theme centers on the healing practices of both Black and Lenni-Lenape people. Featured speakers President Jonathan Holloway, Dr. Cornel West, and Rev. J. R. Norwood will bring awareness to the history, struggle, and resiliency of social justice movements.

Free. Registration Required.

Upcoming Social Work Policy Conferences
Campaign School for Social Workers
Friday and Saturday, February 26-27, 2021
Via Zoom - Advanced Registration Required

You belong in politics! The Campaign School for Social Workers is for anyone who wants to be more politically active as a candidate, staff, volunteer and/or advocate for social change. Attendees learn from political social workers and national experts how to run a winning campaign, gain exposure to political career paths, and build valuable skills that can be applied to any practice setting.

We have a strong network of more than 2,000 alumni who have gone on to run for elected office, work for elected officials, volunteer in campaigns, and/or serve as advocates for social change. Register today!
Learn More & Register for the 2021 Campaign School for Social Workers

Media of the Week
Harsha Walia: Dismantling Imagined, Militarized, And Colonial Borders
Harsha leads us in the deeply regenerative work of political imagination as we think about what our communities and livelihoods look like without imposed borders.

And while for some this call may sound reckless and impossible, the truth is that in stretching our minds to think about a world that makes the unthinkable thinkable, we actually open ourselves to ways of being that have existed long before political borders, ways that have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to care and abundance for all.

ICYMI...A few news & policy updates that occurred during winter break!
Denial Is the Heartbeat of America, The Atlantic: Reflections from Ibram X. Kendi on the January 6th insurrection. "To say that the attack on the U.S. Capitol is not who we are is to say that this is not part of us, not part of our politics, not part of our history. And to say that this is not part of America, American politics, and American history is a bald-faced denial. But the denial is normal. In the aftermath of catastrophes, when have Americans commonly admitted who we are? The heartbeat of America is denial."

Minimum Wage in NJ Raised to $12.00 an hour as of January 1, 2021, CBS: NJ continues inching towards its goal of $15.00 an hour by 2024.

Rush to Approve $14 Billion in Corporate Tax Breaks is a Stunning Disappointment, NJPP: The best way to stimulate an economy is by supporting proven sectors of economic growth like education, public transportation, and the development of safe and affordable homes. Expecting investments to trickle down from corporations to communities is a proven failure, a proven waste of taxpayer dollars, and it must end.”

Census battle ends as Trump administration gives up on excluding undocumented from apportionment, Washington Post: Trump's battle to disqualify undocumented immigrants from the US census came to an end shortly before the end of his presidency.

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