Oregon State House
Oregon State House
Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members unite with their families!
I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served for 10 years, one-third in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand that I first encountered amerasian children, and descendants, of U.S. service members and civilian contractors previously stationed overseas. Filipino Amerasians are abandoned and neglected biracial children of Filipino mothers and American fathers (mostly members of the US armed forces). In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were born and left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t legally recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. The Philippine Embassy won't help them either. As a former US colony between 1898 and 1946, the Philippines was home to millions of US soldiers and their dependents, even after its independence. Until 1992, the country hosted two of the largest US military facilities outside the US – Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, which played major roles during the Vietnam and first Gulf wars. In 1982 US Public Law 97-359, or the Amerasian Act of 1982, allowed children from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, or Thailand to move to the US and eventually become American citizens, but those who were from the Philippines were excluded from the law, an exclusion which was upheld by the US Senate on the basis that many Filipino Amerasians were “conceived from illicit affairs and prostitution”, and were born during peacetime. Today, there are estimated to be more than 250,000-plus children. Many amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. service members who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to unite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. service members. Today, all John wants is to be united with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to unite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2018, HR 1520, creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Currently, blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to connect, or in some cases, reconnect with their own children. John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently unite with her father. There is a PBS documentary, "Left by the Ship" (2010), documenting a day in the life and the personal struggles as a Filipino amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggles to connect to their American military families. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017, HR 1520, now!
U.S. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: DECLARE A CLIMATE EMERGENCY NOW
The Earth has been around for almost 5 billion years, with us modern humans evolving only about 200,000 years ago. In the 0.004% of our planet's total lifetime that we have been around for, we have managed to rip up around 46% of the trees worldwide in our luscious forests, pollute our majestic oceans and the almost-extinct coral reefs, and drive countless species to extinction. In fact, before the evolution of humans, less than 1 species per million went extinct annually; today, a devastating rate of 100-1,000 species per million are lost every year. We are destroying our planet faster than we can process the changes. These deaths are directly linked to habitat destruction by the hands of humans and climate change. According to the International Panel on Climate Change, "To keep the rise in global temperatures below 1.5C this century, emissions of carbon dioxide would have to be cut by 45% by 2030." Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder of the Potsdam Climate Institute, states that the climate may become irreparable if we don't reduce carbon dioxide emmisions in the next 18 months. We must act now, if we have any hope of preserving this planet for future generations to come. Our climate is in a crisis. The U.S. federal government, one of the largest and most influential democratic governments in the world, must declare a climate crisis IMMEDIATELY. Chief executive of the World Wildlife Fund, Tanya Steele puts it clearly: "We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it." Sign this petition to stand alongside us, and our planet. We are the ones who must save our Earth. The time is now! Cover photo by NASA
Remove the penalty that prevents people with disabilities from marrying!
When we think of marriage equality, we think about the ongoing fight LGBT couples face, but another minority group must deal with the stark reality that they are better off living in long-term committed relationships, without marriage. Like LGBT couples, these couples are denied the right to over 1,100 rights afforded to married couples. They have been denied access into their loved ones hospital rooms, faced family disputes over wills and have been denied spousal benefits from their partners workplace or the government in the event of their partners death. These are people with disabilities. Many people rely on the government for medical and financial assistance. Without medical insurance they would have no way to live independently. They would be forced into nursing homes (some already are), which would cost the government significantly more than getting Medicare and/or Medicaid does. At the same time, this assistance comes with a price. The government expects married couples to share income and that affects any assistance the couple receives. For many, their spouse makes too much (even if they make meager SSDI payments). This cuts into the healthcare services these couples receive. For some, their able-bodied partners make too much to allow them to qualify for medical assistance, if married, but not enough to pay out of pocket for costly medical equipment, medicine, or any other needs the disabled partner has. Add in the fact that even when a person with a disability can work, the opportunity for quality medical insurance is hard to find, due to their pre-existing condition and you will understand why many couples with disabilities are forced to live in domestic partnerships. Also, if two people with disabilities marry and they are on SSI or SSDI, their payments are CUT significantly, making it hard for them to maintain independence and afford their own food, shelter, clothing or other necessities. The time to stand up is now!! Let your Senators and Representatives know you want to remove the income caps placed on individuals with disabilities, so they can keep the government assistance and still be able to get married. Every loving couple deserves the right to marry. No one should have to choose between their wheelchair and their love, their therapy and their love, their medication and their love, their ability to eat or have a roof over their head and their love!! Those are not choices!! Help make it possible for those with disabilities to share their love without being penalized!Join our fight for marriage equality for people with disabilities:https://www.facebook.com/MarriageEqualityForPeopleWithDisabilities
Put in a stop light at 140 and Kershaw
On Tuesday, May 9th 2017, a young man, soldier, wrestling champ, well-known and loved community member 21-year-old Hunter Hoeptner was killed in a fatal accident while riding his motorcycle on highway 140 where it meets with Kershaw in White City, Oregon. Hunter was a good man. He volunteered 100 of his own hours in high school to help others in the community. He was a hard-working wrestling champion for Eagle Point High School, and a leader for others. He also joined the National Guard to help others. He wasn't just any regular guy; he impacted people's lives deeply every day he had on this Earth. He inspired us to follow in his footsteps and make a greater change for our lives. Just being around Hunter made people happy. He didn't have to tell you he loved you or cared about you because you could see it in his actions, you knew he did. Many people of this community are hurt right now because of this tragedy. His death was unexpected and unfortunate, but I don't want it to go down as just another death on this road. There needs to be something done on this highway where Kershaw meets. A little orange light is not enough. Too many people have been in accidents and hurt here to not take action. The safety of other loved community members is on the line. I would like to propose a speed limit change as well as a traffic light. A simple change could save lives as well as heart ache for this community. -Tristan Watson & Taylor Thompson