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Campaigns

Down Payment for American Families


Down Payment for American Families

A pro-family racial and economic justice agenda for the first 100 days

 

For America to be strong and vibrant, all families – including those that have been so often discounted, dispossessed and disenfranchised – need to be able to thrive not just barely survive. PICO, a national network of 45 state and local organizations, 3,000 congregations in 22 States and over 150 cities and towns working for racial and economic justice is committed to making sure that every person and family has the ability to thrive in our nation. Our faith teaches us that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God and that we are all sisters and brothers. All of us were created to thrive.

Our agenda is to divest public money from programs that are tearing families apart through incarceration and detention, and re­invest in initiatives that help families stay united and thrive. This agenda prioritizes the needs of all families, especially those that have been devastated by flawed criminal justice and immigration policies. We are asking the next president and Congress to make a down payment for families in the First 100 days of the next administration.

This down payment on a larger agenda includes:

 

1. Disinvesting From Mass Criminalization And Incarceration

  • Police Accountability: Condition all federal law enforcement funding to include the mandate found in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act requiring annual reporting about the use of excessive force by local, state and federal law enforcement. Work through DOJ to undertake an extensive and comprehensive investigation into the systemic abuses by police departments and make specific recommendations for police training and community engagement strategies. Condition Byrne JAG funding and other grants to state and local law enforcement agencies on adoption of recommended training and community involvement strategies. As a first step condition dollars specifically for cities currently or previously under DOJ investigation. 
 
  • Demilitarization: Ban on Department of Defense's 1033 Program and re­conditioning of GSA's 1122 Program ­ disarming local LEA's of military grade equipment and weaponry. 
We propose a Race to the Top Gun Violence Prevention Initiative, funded with a $500 million commitment over 5 years that would allow communities with murder rates significantly above the national average the opportunity to compete for resources to support the reduction of gun ­related homicides through collaboration, quality implementation, structural reform and services. As US Attorney Ted Heinrich documents in “Problem Management: The Federal Role in Reducing Urban Violence” the problem is targeted in a relatively small number of neighborhoods and communities and thus our response should be that focused. Evidence suggests that we could cut urban gun violence by 35%­50% in the most violent urban communities, without sending more and more young men and women of color to their death or jail. A first step is repurposing Byrne JAG program dollars allocated for law enforcement to properly resource Cease fire ­like programs. 

  • Federal Incentives to End Mass Incarceration: Federal Criminal Justice Reform must include incentives to support local and state efforts to end mass criminalization and incarceration of people of color. The Reverse Mass Incarceration Act developed by the Brennan Center would provide $20 billion over ten years in incentive funds to encourage local and state jurisdictions to adopt best practices for reducing the number of people behind bars and under the supervision of the criminal justice system. The federal government, through its tough ­on ­crime approach fueled the era of mass incarceration and now it needs to reverse course, not only in promoting federal sentencing reform, but also in supporting change at all levels of government. As part of the effort to end mass incarceration, the federal government should ban the box on all employment and federal contracts, and affirmatively promote fair hiring and transitional jobs for returning citizens.

 

2. Protect Families and End Criminalization of Immigrants

  • New Immigration Reform Legislation: In 2017 Congress must take up federal immigration reform legislation that provides an accessible path to legal status and citizenship to all undocumented immigrants. The bedrock of any legislation must emphasize family unity and reject expansion of enforcement, detention, and militarization of the border region and criminalization of immigrants. 

  • Expand Administrative Action: The new administration should use its administrative powers to continue DACA and DAPA programs and take further action by expanding the program to include parents of DREAMERs, workers otherwise not eligible for administrative relief, and extending the date of entry for eligibility to include recent arrivals. For immigrants from countries facing crisis, the administration should broaden Deferred Enforced Departure and Temporary Protected Status. In removal proceedings the administration should increase administrative closures and prosecutorial discretion. 
 
  • End Detention and Criminalization of Immigrants: The administration should take immediate steps to end the contracts and use of private for profit companies for the detention of immigrants.  Furthermore, the administration and Congress should negotiate and abolish the 34,000 bed quota in the federal budget, the use of for-profit prisons and mandatory detention. 


  

3. Investing In Families And Communities

  • Prioritize Federal Investment In High Poverty Communities: The federal government should begin to direct billions of dollars into communities with the highest levels of entrenched poverty by redirecting existing spending. The administration should make an amended version of Rep. James Clyburn’s “10­20­30 Plan” a central component of the president’s first budget. This formula should be amended to ensure that it addresses persistent pockets of urban, suburban and rural poverty. Much needed infrastructure investment should include an amended 10­20­30 formula to guarantee that a significant portion of the jobs created from such spending are targeted towards people from high poverty communities and formerly incarcerated individuals, including job training and career pathway opportunities. 

  • Invest In Working Families: The new administration and Congress should support policies designed to reduce poverty and racial disparities, including in increasing the child tax credit, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for low wage workers, national paid family leave that is accessible to all workers, and investment in transitional jobs for returning citizens. 

  • Support CFPB Efforts To Regulate Small Dollar Payday And Car Title Loans: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has drafted rules to regulate predatory payday and car title loans. The final rules are expected to be released in 2017, and have the potential to rein in the worst abuses of the “debt trap.” The administration should strongly back the CFPB as it takes these crucial actions, including shoring up support in Congress for both the agency and its new rule.