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Archive for February, 2017

60+ come to Immigration and Refugee Issues Cafe

February 17th, 2017


Amelia Rosser of Refugee Empowerment C enter and Shane Ellison of Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) shared their experience and expertise with 60+ leaders

Over sixty OTOC and community leaders met at Urban Abbey on February 15 to learn about three of the latest Executive Orders that are aimed at changing the immigration and refugee landscape. This Issues Cafe was lead by the OTOC Immigration and Refugee action team, and featured speakers Shane Ellison, Chief Counsel at Justice for Our Neighbors, and Amelia Rosser from Refugee Empowerment Center.


Sr. Kathleen Erickson, RSM opened with meditation

Ellison provided a thorough but understandable overview of the profound changes in policy that these executive orders embody. OTOC leaders identified a number of next steps which people can take to stand with Immigrants and Refugees. Click below to see those actions:

Final Next Steps for Feb 15 Immigration Issue Cafe’


Join OTOC on Monday, January 20 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at 62nd and Dodge for a Light the Way Vigil  for  Refugees and Immigrants. OTOC  will prayerfully  demonstrate that we want fair policies, based on fact not fear.

2017 Issue Cafe crowdHere is a brief explanation of what we learned. We encourage you to follow THIS LINK to a more thorough summary of the changes brought about by the Executive Orders.  Below is a short overview:

  1. Enhancing Public Safety in The Interior Of The United States
    1. The executive order does not and cannot change the grounds of deportation. People who have status may only be deported if they are removable under our current immigration laws and ineligible for relief from removal.
    2. New Enforcement Priorities include: Those who are removable AND those who have violated a list of wide ranging crimes.

      (See pdf link)

    3. Revives the constitutionally-suspect Secure Communities program.
    4.  Seeks to compel states and localities to enforce federal immigration laws.
    5. Directs DHS to hire an additional 10,000 ICE officers.
    6. Seeks to punish sanctuary jurisdictions.
  2. Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements
    1. Directs DHS to allocate funds for construction of a wall on the southern border.
    2. Directs DHS to immediately construct detention facilities near the southern border to accommodate increased number of immigrant detainees in custody.
    3. Announces policy to detain those suspected of violating immigration law and expeditiously process claims for relief. Ends practice of paroling in asylum seekers.
    4. Expands application of “expedited removal” procedure throughout the country to individuals who have not been admitted or paroled into the US who cannot prove to DHS that they have been continuously present for at least two years.
  3. Protecting The Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States:
    1. Suspends refugee admissions for at least 120 days, and prioritizes protection for religious minorities moving forward.
    2. Reduces the number of refugees to be admitted in FY 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000.
    3. Bans Syrian refugees indefinitely.
    4. Bans immigrant and non-immigrant entries for at least 90 days for nationals of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
    5. Suspends the Visa Interview Waiver Program.

Rep Bacon Joins Climate Solutions Caucus to keep pledge to OTOC

February 10th, 2017


OTOC leaders asked specific, issue oriented questions to both Rep. Ashford and Candidate Don Bacon at the non-partisan Accountability Session

In October, at the OTOC Accountability Session, Congressional candidate Don Bacon pledged to meet with OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability Team and to join the bi-partisan Climate Solutions Caucus, should he win the seat for Nebraska’s  2nd Congressional district. This unique caucus requires that a Republican and Democrat join at the same time so there equal numbers from each party at all times. Rep Bacon is the first member of Congress from either party from the Midwest to join the Climate Solutions Caucus.Read More . . .

Call your Senator to Reform Pay Day Lending

February 10th, 2017

OTOC Call to Action      

Call you Senator today to support LB194, a bipartisan bill being sponsored by two freshman Senators, Tony Vargas (District 7) and Lou Ann Linehan (District 39). The bill aims to protect our most vulnerable Nebraskans while allowing the pay day lending industry to remain profitable in the state.

Rev Shreve

Rev Scott Shreve of St. Paul UMC represented OTOC asking the Unicameral to reform Pay Day Lending

 Click on the links  below to learn more:

OTOC Call to Action

How to reign in Pay Day Lending LB 194

How the Debt Trap works

These Omaha Area Senators are on the Banking Committee and will decide if LB 194 gets a vote by the Unicameral. Let them know what you think.

Sen. Brett Linstrom, District 18 & Chair
Phone: (402) 471-2618

Sen. Joni Craighead, District 6
Phone: (402) 471-2714

Sen. John McCollister District 20  

Phone: (402) 471-2622

Please let us know about your contacts at  or 402-344-4401

On Feb. 21, brave leaders gave testimony at a public hearing at the Banking Committee about the impact of Pay Day Loans on their lives

Elsa Ramon Moody

Elsa Ramon Moody of St. Margaret Mary Catholic testified about how desperation caused her to take out Pay Day Loans

Richard Blocker Right

Richard Blocker of Augustana Luther testified about how his need to buy medicine led him to take out a pay day loan

On Feb 16, OTOC held a Clergy Caucus for so faith leaders could learn more about how Pay Day Lending ensnares desperate people.

Clergy Caucus





On Feb. 7, OTOC held an Issue Cafe to teach our leaders about Pay Day Lending

Tracy Bruckner and Lisa Sock of Women’s Fund of Omaha, along with Ken Smith of Nebraska Appleseed gave presentations followed by a question and answer session.IMG_1932IMG_1950

We learned that across the United States 12 million people borrow $7 billion each year. These are people who have a job and checking account and make approximately $30,000 a year. Most have credit cards, but they are maxed out. Most use pay day loans for monthly or recurring expenses.

In Nebraska pay day lenders are allowed to charge up to 461% in fees/interest each year on a loan. These high rates are among the highest allowed in the nation and lead to a revolving door of debt for the borrower. The loans last an average of 5 months, and the borrower pays $530 in fees to borrow $300 for those 5 months.

Reducing Interest Rates

Neighboring states, such as Colorado and South Dakota, have passed laws similar to our LB194. Tracy Bruckner described ours as a middle of the road law. This means that the regulations that would be imposed would not cripple the industry in Nebraska. There are plenty of Nebraskans who need help when unexpected expenses arise, but the restrictions of LB194 will ensure that those Nebraska borrowers will not be stuck in a revolving door of debt that so many borrowers have experienced.IMG_1910IMG_1949

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