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Policy Updates from the Rutgers Social Work Policy Network
December 18, 2020

The Social Work Policy Network sends weekly resources and updates regarding national policy, NJ policy, events, opportunities & more. Today, they return for the first time of the 2020-2021 academic year - just in time for the 2020 Presidential Election! The Social Work Policy Network's e-newsletter is created by Brittany Libby, MSW Graduate Student, Network Research Assistant and Dr. Lenna Nepomnyaschy, RU Associate Professor, Network Founder. Subscribe today! 

ACTION OPPORTUNITY FOR STUDENTS & FACULTY
Help the BLM Student Caucus Reach 500 Signatures! As social workers, we need to be committed to racial justice & hold our governing organization accountable. The final letter with all signatures will be sent to the NASW Board of Directors and Executive Committee. We urge you to fill out this google form by January 1, 2021.

IMMIGRATION POLICY & IMMIGRANT RIGHTS
New Rule Creates Barriers to Asylum in the US:
On January 10, the Trump Administration's 'Death to Asylum' rule will begin. "The rule creates insurmountable procedural barriers...to prevent three groups from being able to exercise their right to seek asylum: Central Americans fleeing gang violence; women and others fleeing domestic abuse; and people fleeing persecution on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Overall, the rule sets bars that will make it exceedingly difficult for all people who deserve asylum to be recognized as refugees and protected." Read here for more details on the 'Death to Asylum' ruling.
 
The Trump Administration Expelled Unaccompanied Migrant Children in Violation of a Court Order: The Trump Administration began expelling migrants to Mexico in March under Title 42, a section of the Public Health Safety Act, that allows the US government to temporarily block noncitizens from entering the US “when doing so is required in the interest of public health.” It resulted in the expulsions of more than 250,000 people from March through October and remains effective until the CDC director determines that the further spread of Covid-19 has “ceased to be a serious danger to public health.”

Immigrants Urge Action on COVID Relief, via Billboard in Edison:
"Pending legislation, A4171/S2480, would provide a one-time payment, to all undocumented tax paying immigrants in the state. NJ's undocumented immigrants are ineligible for unemployment insurance, TANF, SNAP, and most other safety-net programs...The federal CARES Act stimulus payments not only excluded undocumented immigrant taxpayers, but also their US citizen family."

ACTION OPPORTUNITY: Support Immigrant Communities Affected by Covid-19

Contact your Legislator! Send a note & tweet to your NJ state legislators to include undocumented immigrants (who all pay taxes) in any COVID relief package!

COVID-19
N.J. administers its first COVID-19 vaccine dose to University Hospital nurse: The vaccine has arrived! Now we face the long process of vaccinating.

How Will NJ Distribute Covid-19 Vaccines Now That Nursing Home Residents Are at the Front? "Nursing home residents previously had been further down the priority list, behind front-line health care workers. That changed last week when a CDC advisory panel voted to add nursing home residents to the "Phase 1a" group of the first Americans to get the vaccine."

NJ Unemployment Claims on the Rise As 500K Set to Lose Benefits at End of Month: "The growing number of applications comes as nearly 500,000 New Jersey workers could lose their unemployment benefits Dec. 26 if Congress doesn’t pass a stimulus bill that includes relief for unemployed workers."

Many NJ Utility Customers Behind on Bills. Pressure to Suspend Rates Increases: "At this point, there is some consensus even among some utilities that a one-time COVID-19 arrearage forgiveness program is needed to address the scope of the problem, although where the money to fund such efforts will come from is hardly resolved."

Jersey City will write $1,500 checks to renters in need: Jersey City is planning to write checks to residents struggling to pay rent due to the pandemic.

What Happens to the Unemployed When Checks Run Out: Millions face a steep and immediate drop in spending power when federal jobless benefits end this month, with a sharp rise in the poverty rate.

Failed By the Federal Government, Native Nations Respond Effectively to the Pandemic: "Tribal nations have implemented guidelines and policies that appear to be far more effective than those used by the states they are in...Their response shows that Indigenous nations and communities know what they need; they are the directors of their own protective measures". 

FEDERAL UPDATES
U.S. Executes Brandon Bernard After Supreme Court Denies Stay: "The execution was the first in 130 years to be carried out during a presidential transition period...Bernard's attorney Robert Owens sought a review of the case after the discovery of previously undisclosed evidence. Owens argued that trial prosecutors withheld evidence that showed Bernard had a low-level position in the gang that committed the murders".

ACLU's Case Against the Death Penalty:  Review a history of capital punishment and reasons for why this law is protested by advocates and abolitionists.

Alternatives to Calling the Police for Domestic Violence Survivors: "Faced with findings and experiences like these, researchers and survivor advocates are increasingly searching for alternative ways to address domestic violence. If involving the police and criminal justice system isn’t a good option for most survivors, why is it offered to them as the main pathway for seeking help?" 

Who Are Electors and How Do They Get Picked?: Yesterday, electors in state capitols nationwide cast their electoral votes, confirming President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris as winners of the 2020 Presidential election. But, who are these electors?

Learn more about RUSSW Professor Blunt-Carter's Experience as an Elector! Professor Blunt-Carter is an electoral voter for the state of Delaware. Learn more about her political engagement as a social worker.

Congress Might Finally Have a Bill to Stop Surprise Medical Bills: "The best thing the surprise billing deal has working in its favor is that everybody agrees these practices are unacceptable and want to get something done. It’s not often that we see four committees, both the top Democrat and the top Republican, supporting the same plan."

Trump Proposal Threatens Proposal of Healthcare.gov Enrollees: "If finalized, the Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (NBPP) for the 2022 coverage year would encourage privatization of core functions of the health insurance marketplaces, starve HealthCare.gov of needed funds, codify Administration efforts to waive important parts of the ACA, and continue a policy that raises premiums and cost-sharing." 

Trump Takes One Final Shot at Obamacare Exchanges: "If states choose this potential new option, residents would no longer have access to a one-stop shop for health insurance. Instead, they would have to find their way to private insurance brokers or individual carriers."

What a Joe Biden Cabinet Pick Might Mean for Native Americans - and Democrats: A tribal citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, Haaland would not only be the first Native person to oversee the Department of Interior, which handles much of the federal government’s nation-to-nation relationship with the 574 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribal communities, but also the first-ever Native American Cabinet secretary in U.S. history.

The Future of Black Politics: What Does Representation Politics Mean? How do Politicians (too often) Fail Underrepresented Communities and POC?

LOCAL UPDATES
NJ Legal Weed Bills Advance After Weeks of Controversy. Final Votes Set for Thursday:  Lawmakers advanced an amended version of the lengthy bill Monday afternoon. Racial Justice advocates remain unimpressed by the lack of transparency in proposed legislation thus far. Still, "the Assembly Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on its version of the bill Tuesday. Floor votes are expected in the Assembly and Senate Thursday."

Congress Urged to Make Daniel's Law, named after Judge Esther Salas' Murdered Son, Federal Law: "The New Jersey law prohibits disclosure of home addresses of current or retired judges, as well as prosecutors, law enforcement officers and their spouses or children. NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Monday that a bipartisan coalition of 51 attorneys general sent a letter to Congress urging it pass a similar measure on the national level."

Effort Toward Paterson Police Using Body Cameras Faces Another Delay:  "Paterson is the only major city in New Jersey where cops don’t wear body cameras. Paterson had been awarded state funding for cameras in 2015, but opted not to buy them."

Horizon's Restructuring Plan Raises Red Flags:"In short, the bill would change Horizon’s corporate structure to separate its health insurance operations from other business ventures; it would also change Horizon’s tax liability. This complexity, paired with a lack of critical information and transparency, means that big questions remain unanswered..."

Perth Amboy Runoff Election Tuesday. Here's What Is At Stake: Voters will decide who will lead the city as Mayor for the next four years as well as who will lead on city council.

UPCOMING EVENTS
Saving Moms: Strategies to Reduce Maternal Mortality in the U.S.
Friday, December 18
(12:00 PM via Zoom)
At least 700 women die every year from pregnancy-related causes, giving the U.S. the highest maternal mortality rate among similarly wealthy nations. Research has shown that about 3 out of 5 pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Additionally, there are significant racial disparities in maternal mortality rates, with Black and Indigenous mothers dying at two to four times the rate of white mothers.

This webinar will explore the current state of maternal mortality in the United States, potential strategies to decrease the disparities in maternal deaths, and examples of state legislative actions to reduce rates.
Register for Saving Moms Strategies Webinar

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

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