Advocacy News + Updates
Let's Get Back to the Essentials: Thoughts on the Shutdown
The Park is Closed
This morning as I walked my two dogs, I passed a charming park full of playground equipment. It is just a couple blocks from my house in Washington, DC’s, Capitol Hill neighborhood, and there wasn’t a day I didn’t take my girls there when they were small. It teems with toddlers, nannies, strollers, grandparents – but not today. The iron gate was chained and padlocked and a large laminated sign hung from it, stating that the park is closed because of the federal government shut-down.
The failure of the Congress to reach an agreement on the budget won’t be felt by most folks unless it drags on for weeks. But here in my town, it is very real right now. Not only are tens of thousands of federal workers deemed “nonessential” staying at home because they’re not getting paid, but the huge tourism industry that fuels hundreds of thousands of jobs, has taken an enormous hit because our city’s extraordinary parks, monuments, and museums are closed till further notice.
A Call to Cancel
I experienced the furlough of federal workers quite personally when I got a call late yesterday from a friend at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), our government’s principle development agency. I had arranged a briefing for about a dozen USAID experts with IJM’s Director for Latin America, Pablo Villeda. Pablo was all set to report on some extraordinary progress in Guatemala. IJM works with prosecutors, courts, and judges on behalf of child victims of sexual assault. Recently, the Guatemalan Government adopted best practice protocols developed by our team in Guatemala City for investigating sex crimes against children and made the new standards mandatory for the entire country. IJM has begun training judicial personnel in the procedures.
The phone call was to cancel the briefing. Apparently our government’s experts in children’s rights, in gender violence, and in Latin America aren’t essential.
Put the Financial House in Order
Well, they’re certainly essential to me, and they’re essential to promotion of human rights around the world. Congress needs to put its financial house in order for a whole lot of reasons. I want my little park back. I want the tourists to come back so my D.C. neighbors who work in the tourism industry won’t lose their jobs. And I want USAID to re-open so that Pablo can tell them that young children are being preyed upon and what our government can do to help.