If you’re in the mood to call your U.S. senators — they’d be Kay Hagan and Richard Burr, respectively — and urge them to cast a vote or three for progress in the world, the N.C. Council of Churches’ David LaMotte issued a urgent call this morning [it’s copied below] on behalf of three bills: The new START treaty, a criminal justice measure to curb prison abuses, and a favorite of ours, the DREAM Act.

Raleighs DREAM Act hunger strikers in June
  • Indy photo by D.L. Anderson
  • Raleigh’s DREAM Act hunger strikers in June

[You’ll recall that, in June, three young women — the children of undocumented immigrants who brought them to the U.S. years ago — went on a hunger strike in Raleigh to raise consciousness about the DREAM Act.]

Not coincidentally, The Center for American Progress has an excellent summary out today of the DREAM ACT itself and the politics surrounding it. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is maneuvering the legislation for a vote as part of a defense spending bill — which is just about the only way anything that isn’t cool with the right-wing will ever get a vote in the Senate these days. (A measure to begin the process of repealing the miliary’s anti-gay Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy is also part of the legislation, the CAP report says.]

On the DREAM Act, you’re doubtless wasting your breath on Sen. Burr, though that’s no reason not to call his office and register your opinion. But Sen. Hagan is another story — advocates have worked hard to get her support, but so far, she hasn’t offered it except as part of comprehensive reform” that, of course, has no chance in this Senate. But read the CAP report: The “comprehensive reform” crowd is starting to sign on. Maybe Hagan will too?

The START treaty could also use a little N.C. love, according to the Council of Churches, which asks that you call:

Senator Burr (202) 224-3154
Senator Hagan (202) 224-6342


Fyi, to get on LaMottes’ (the N.C. Council of Churches) mailing list, write him at dlamotte@nccouncilofchurches.org.

Here’s the note he sent today:

Dear friends and colleagues in the work of peacemaking,

I’m writing with some urgent calls to action and a couple of opportunities. First, three reasons to call our NC senators:

— Yesterday the New START treaty left the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with 14-4 support. It will likely come up for a vote very soon, and neither of the NC senators has committed to how they will vote. This is a common sense measure to reduce the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia. For all the reasons outlined in the article below, and several others, this is the right thing to do. The benefits are clear and the costs of failure high. Please take a moment to call our North Carolina senators and spread the word to encourage others to do the same:

A thorough examination and strong argument for the treaty (and links to the full text, etc., if you’re feeling *really* wonky):


— The National Criminal Justice Commission Act (H.R. 5143/S. 714) has passed the house and has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The act would provide for a national review of our criminal justice system for the first time in 40 years. Importantly, this panel would have the authority to review the conditions of confinement for all prisoners in our criminal justice system. As such, the panel could issue recommendations for preventing the abuse of prisoners. Justice and peace are fundamentally intertwined, and finding ways to heal perpetrators rather than abusing them is part of the work of peace.

— The DREAM Act – Some might consider this outside the purview of peace work, but it is clear that immigration issues are one of the biggest areas of conflict in the US today, and real peace is inextricably bound up with justice. The DREAM act will provide a path toward citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants. Though the issue is complicated (there are concerns about military recruitment among undocumented youth, for instance), the Council is in support of the Dream Act, and I am too. While you’re calling about New START, feel free to weigh in on the DREAM act as well. 😉

More on immigration reform from the Council’s Chris Liu-Beers:


Senator Burr (202) 224-3154
Senator Hagan (202) 224-6342