1. Update
  2. Criminal Justice, Immigrants & Refugees, Middle East & Iran

Our Hopes and Fears for the 2020 State of the Union

By Joe D'Antonio, Karla Molinar-Arvizo, Monica Montgomery, January 31, 2020


Between the escalation with Iran and the impeachment hearings, Congress has been abuzz with activity so far this year—and advocates have been hard at work, too. The president’s State of the Union address, set for Feb. 4, will serve as an important point of reflection for FCNL and all those working to create change in Congress.

President Donald J. Trump delivers his State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks

As the administration previews its intentions for the upcoming year, we will be intently listening for opportunities to advance our work—and anticipating challenges. This is our guide to the topics we expect President Trump to cover in his address:

Iran

The recent escalations in the Middle East have placed the question of how and when the U.S. engages militarily with the world firmly in the spotlight. The president is sure to address the ongoing situation with Iran—and we fear a continuation of past provocative statements. As diplomacy breaks down and tensions build, the chances of tipping into yet another deadly conflict increase.

Congress must put an end to decades of unauthorized violence abroad and stand up to the executive branch.

An entire generation has been raised with a backdrop of perpetual war. Congress must put an end to decades of unauthorized violence abroad and stand up to the executive branch. The House’s votes this week to repeal the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force and prevent funding for unauthorized war with Iran were crucial steps, but legislators must keep up the momentum.

Israel/Palestine

The president recently unveiled a new “peace” plan to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We have a different view of peace in Israel and Palestine: end the cycles of violence, safeguard human rights, oppose Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, and uphold the rule of law.

While the president will likely use the address to boast about his one-sided plan, we will continue to advocate for a just solution that protects the dignity, sovereignty, and rights of all involved parties.

Immigration

The administration’s attacks on immigrant communities continue. Officials are poised to expand the Muslim ban, more than three years after it was first announced. A “public charge” rule was recently instituted for immigrants seeking legal status. Visa restrictions were implemented for pregnant women seeking to travel to the U.S. And throughout, the administration has continued to overspend on border wall construction and detainment.

The administration’s attacks on immigrant communities continue.

Caging those seeking safety has not made us safer. These policies of discrimination and injustice are a firm contradiction of our values and history. We urge Congress to prioritize legislation that ensures that no future president has the unchecked power to discriminate against Muslims, immigrants, or refugees.

Opioids

As the opioid crisis continues, the administration has attempted to take action by backing the Stop Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogs (SOFA) Act (S. 1622/H.R. 2935). This bill, which would expand the use of mandatory minimums for those possessing fentanyl, is reminiscent of the mistakes made during the crack epidemic—mistakes that are still destroying communities across the nation.

FCNL will continue to lobby against any legislation that seeks to criminalize a public health crisis.

Impeachment

Despite the president’s protests, the impeachment process is key to affirming and protecting our democracy. In the words of FCNL General Secretary Diane Randall: “The Senate now has an important choice to make, one that could either weaken or strengthen our constitution and our democracy.”


Want to engage with the conversation in real time? Join other advocates online via Twitter. Here are are some hashtags to follow:

State of the Union: #SOTU
Middle East: #NoWarWithIran
Immigration: #DefundHate

Joe D'Antonio

  • Program Assistant, Criminal Justice and Election Integrity

Joe D’Antonio is the Program Assistant for Criminal Justice and Election Integrity. His primary responsibilities include lobbying members of Congress, writing policy updates, and conducting legislative research.

Karla Molinar-Arvizo

  • Program Assistant, Immigration and Refugee Policy

Karla is the Program Assistant for Immigration and Refugee Policy. In her work, Karla tracks key legislation on congressional appropriations and funding, collaborates with partner organizations, and uplifts the values of FCNL through congressional visits and lobbying. She believes in the importance of maintaining relationships with constituents, and advocates for an immigration system where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

Monica Montgomery

  • Program Assistant, Nuclear Disarmament and Pentagon Spending

Monica is the Program Assistant for Nuclear Disarmament and Pentagon Spending. Alongside constituents and coalition partners, she works with Congress to promote bipartisan support for nuclear arms control and cutbacks in the level of defense spending. In addition to her lobbying tasks, she is responsible for maintaining the FCNL Nuclear Calendar.