Welcome to the 116th Congress; now please get to work!

November 15th, 2018

[Update on 11/19/18: the final results are in, and there are six new members of the California delegation. They are all Democrats, and two of them are attorneys. OneJustice looks forward to working with these new members and their staff in early 2019 to introduce them to the California civil justice system and the importance services it provides to their constituents.]

Like many of you, the OneJustice team has been anxiously watching the 2018 midterm election results roll in – particularly the California races for the House of Representatives. We are laser focused on gauging the impact of the election on our work to protect justice for all.

More specifically, we’re working to assess the impact of the elections on two core components that make up the bright promise of justice for all:

  1. Federal funding for legal help for Californians in need, and

  2. The impact of federal immigration policy on Californians.

At OneJustice, we believe deeply that these issues are entirely bi-partisan.  Everyone – including our elected officials – can agree on the fact that our justice system doesn’t work unless we treat everyone equally, regardless of what you look like or where you come from.

So what do we know in terms of California as of today, November 15th?

While two of the 53 congressional races in California are still too close to call, we know that at least five of the representatives for our state will be brand-new to Congress.  The OneJustice network will hit the ground running in January to educate these new members and their staff in both DC and the district about the importance of civil legal aid assistance to their constituents and how reasonable immigration policies and comprehensive immigration reform will benefit the communities that elected them and our entire state.

Let’s face it – the 2018 mid-terms were a brutal experience. And now OneJustice is calling on the 116th Congress to set aside knee-jerk partisanship and scapegoating and to find common ground. Congress must get to work on the policy issues for which they were elected. In terms of civil justice and immigration, we expect every member of the California delegation, regardless of party affiliation, to do what is best for all Californians.

Will you join us in calling on Congress to do its job and protect justice for all? Here’s how you can get involved in 2019:

Congress should get to work and increase federal funding for civil justice.

Ensuring fairness in the justice system is a fundamental American value. Americans believe in justice for all, not just for those who can afford it.  Federal funding for legal aid through the Legal Services Corporation assures fairness for all in the justice system, regardless of how much money you have. It provides access to legal help for people to protect their livelihoods, their health, and their families.

But the administration’s budget continues to call for the complete elimination of the program.  Congress passed a continuing resolution that only continues funding for legal aid services through December 7, 2018.

When we say the Pledge of Allegiance we close with “justice for all.”  So the OneJustice network calls on Congress to protect funding for civil legal aid in the federal budget cycle to ensure that the very principle our country’s founders envisioned remains alive: justice for all, not the few who can afford it.

Congress should get to work and create fair immigration policies that reflect America’s values

America is a compassionate country that has a commitment to honoring our humanitarian responsibilities – including an orderly system for considering asylum claims that has served us well.  We understand that the right to due process under the law is a cornerstone of our commitment to freedom and fairness. Every person in the United States, regardless of their immigration status, is guaranteed equal treatment and due process under law.  Our immigration policies should reflect our core values: equality, fairness, accountability, and opportunity.

Partisan fighting in Congress and fear-mongering as a campaign tactic has polarized candidates and created barriers to working together to pass reasonable legislation. That hurts all of us, regardless of political affiliation. Human migration itself is not the problem, but rather flawed immigration policies – and non-strategic enforcement – are the problem. We, as a democracy, have the power and responsibility to change those to make sure they are reasonable and fair. We can build bridges and demonstrate that our differing identities are assets in making our communities and nation stronger. Congress – as our elected representatives – should create immigration policies that make it possible for those seeking opportunity to join our workforce and society.

OneJustice calls on the 116th Congress to set aside polarized fighting. We demand that our elected officials get to work to reject the administration’s cruel and callous shifts in immigration policies and to pass comprehensive immigration reform that reflects American values of honoring our humanitarian responsibilities and ensuring that every person is treated equally under the law. Congress must pass laws that promote public safety and uphold due process and equal justice and that integrate new Americans into our economic engine and social fabric.

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