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May 23, 1997     The Message
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May 23, 1997

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!: i ¸ The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana -- Taking the time to make a difference -- Take a stand for children At the heart of the Christian Family Movement is the call to "observe, judge and act." It often eas- ier -- much, much easier -- to observe and judge, than it is to act. Take these statistics, for exam- ple, from the Children's Defense Fund. • Ten million children in the United States have not basic health coverage. Nine in ten of them live in working families. • Every two minutes, a child is born at low birth-weight. That is, one in 14 children born in the United States. By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR Who can possibly feed the four million children under 12 who go hungry for at least part'of the year? Who can comfort so many millions of children afflicted by drugs, violence and neglect? We can. We can if we -- each one of us and all of us -- observe the world immediately around us and ask: Is what we see in accord with what Jesus wants for the world? If not, then the call to the committed Christian is to act to do the work of Jesus today. • Every three minutes a child is born to a On June 1, the Children's Defense Fund is mother who received only late pre-natal care, or no sponsoring the second annual "Stand for Children" pre-natal care at all. That is one in 21 children in Day. Events are being organized at locations the United States. • Every four minutes a child is arrested for drug abuse. • Every five minutes a child is arrested for a violent crime. • Every 92 minutes a child is killed by -throughout the United States to focus attention on children's health needs. Take the time today to examine the health needs of children in your home town or City, or at your parish or school. firearms. One of every 610 children will be killed by a gun before the age of 20. As expressed by the Christian Family Move- ment, the Gospel challenge is to observe the world around you, judge what you see by the light of Christ's teaching, and then act to make the world better. Ask other families in Your neighborhood to make the same examination. Then determine what you can do to make life better for a child. $ , $ The Children's Defense Fund suggests some possible ways to act: • Clean out your pantry and your children's closets. Donate non-perishable clothes your children no longer wear ter. • Shop for extra school supplieswhen] the store; give them to a shelter. ..... • Spend extra time dren. Take them to a library, museum • Donate "gently-used" chil books to hospitals or clinics in your • Collect family; give them to a local charity. • Volunteer to tutor or mentor evening a week. • Clip coupons from your donate them to a women's shelter organization that serves children. • Write a letter to the editor of a lo per about the needs to provide health the 10 million uninsured children in this! • Work with your parish or establish a safe haven for children after weekends or during summer. • Clean up the playgrounds in hood. Clean up a vacant lot. • Organize an immuniz make sure children get all the need. Take the time to stand for children. Comments about this column are or the Christian Ft P.O. Box 272;Ames, Iowa 50010. ------Washington Letter Fixing the welfare fix: States, Congress and immig By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) - Heart-wrenching tales have echoed in state and federal hear- ing rooms since last summer, as more than a million legal immi- grants face the cutoff of benefits under last year's welfare law. Immigrants and long-term refugees who received food stamps already lost them April I and the elderly or disabled immigrants who receive Supple- The MESSAGE 4200 N, Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville ,4 Published weeldy except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville PdoWne .............  GerSd A. G Edd ...................................... Padl R. Techroan ............... Joss  Aorlisia ................................... Paul SW ........................... MaqAm Address aft communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 SubscdptJon rate: $17.50 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 EzUred as peoeal matter at tt post ¢e in EyanAB, IN 47701.   843800.  1 s C.,QZho Press o Ev'a-v • JlJl t. JJ mental Security Income and the United States more than 20 budget, public pressure will lead also behind what t Medicaid are due to be cut offin August. Social service agencies are struggling to help panicked immigrants understand what is happening, while food pantries and emergency programs are gearing UP for an expected flood of newly needy people. But since the law passed, advocates for immigrants and the poor have rallied to put human faces and stories on the attempt by Congress to reduce welfare costs by cutting benefits to legal immigrants. Adding to the pressure is the fact that prominent Republican politicians, like New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and many governors are among the most vocal critics of the immigrant provisions of the welfare bill. The result so far has been bits of progress in the new federal budget agreement and decisions by nearly every state to at least temporarily provide for some of their most needy immigrants. As of May 16, both the House and Senate seemed ready to spend $240 million to extend the SSI cutoffdate fromAugust to the end of the fiscal year in October, time that would be spent working on a longer-term solution. Stories like those of Mendel Tsadovich and Martha Que Pham are why a Congress that was so quick to cut off immi- grants from their benefits last August is backpedaling so soon. Tsadovich, a Holocaust sur- vivor from Latvia who has out- lived his relatives, is too severe- ly retarded to pass the test to become a U.S. citizen. AS a noncitizen who has been S here longer than five years, the welfare law says that beginning in August he no longer will receive the SSI that currently supports him. Martha Que Pham, a Viet- namese refugee who has lived in years, has become a citizen. But her middle-aged son, who has Down's Syndrome and receives SSI, has been turned down for naturalization twice. Although Pham is over 65 and retired, she said at an April press conference sponsored by the National Immigration Forum that without SSI and Medicaid for her son, she will have to go back to work -- if she can get hired  to support him. Advocates for immigrants and refugees hoped the Tsadovich and Pham situations would be addressed in the budget agree- ment announced May 2. The original budget proposed by President Clinton exempted children and disabled immi- grants from SSI and Medicaid cuts and extended the cutoff date for food stamp recipients. It appeared some of those measures were in the congressional-admin- istration budget agreement. But Abby Price, who monitors legislation for the U.S. Catholic Conference's Migration and Refugee Services, said May 15 that as the budget details were worked out, many "fixes" dwin- dled away. Medicaid coverage for immigrant children isn't includ- ed at all and provisions restor- ing some immigrants' SSI don't apply to some of the neediest people, Price said. For instance, Tsadovich was classified as being disabled when he arrived in the United States. If he had become disabled after his arrival, he would be eligible for SSI under the budget agreement. Because he is unable to com- plete the requirements for citi- zenship, he will he disqualified from SSI, along with many elder- ly immigrants who have been here longer than the new seven- year window of eligibility. Price said she's hopeful that as congressional committees draft the bills to implement the to the restoration of SSI benefits for people like Tsadovich. In the meantime, 45 states and the District of Columbia have agreed to make sure at least some of the affected immi- grants don't wind up living on the streets. So far, only Alabama has approved a welfare program with no safety net for immigrants cut off under the federal changes, said Ann Morse, program man- ager for the Immigration Policy Project of the National Council of State Legislators. Most states that have general assistance -- welfare fi)r people without children -- will ()pen the program to the immigrants, she said. Morse estimated that in those states, about half of the immigrants who are losing their federal benefits will fall into some kirld of state safety net. The personal stories that are convincing members of Congress to rethink the welfare cuts are doing. An ma cuts chusetts With resentative and Catholic Char diocese "It vincing," after House Finneran s did az matic speech encouraging gram to In a that covers e SSI food b all catego! grants See 5 ! : i ¸ : i : :: : / i ! !i !i i ¸ :  Graduation, Washington Catholic urday, May 24, 7:30 p.m. Confirmation, Sts. Peter and , day, May 25, 10 a.m. Graduation, Menorial Vanderburgh Auditorium, Sunday, Graduation, Mater Dei High Vanderburgh Auditorium S Catholic Charities Building, Evansville, Personnel Board Meeting, day, May 28, 12:30 p.m. Finance Council, Catholic center, 28, 3:30 p.m. Council of Priests Meeting, ( May 30, 1:30 p.m. Graduation, Rivet High School, :: p.m., St. John Church, Vincennes. :)