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Statement Regarding the #MeToo Movement

For decades, sexual harassment and assault were considered taboo, secretive topics. However, one hashtag aims to change that. The #MeToo movement was started by a simple tweet from actress Alyssa Milano to bring awareness to the often ignored issue of harassment and/or assault. The impact was profound. In the last 24 hours, the hashtag had been tweeted nearly half a million times, a spokesperson from Twitter confirmed. #MeToo not only brought people from around the world together, but it shed light on previously skimmed sexual predation issues, such as that of Weinstein and Cosby. It showed the magnitude of victims, and that there is a lot of work to be done.


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Endorsement of Tay Anderson for Denver School Board District 4 Representative

Youth Caucus of America, Inc. is proud to say “We Stand With Tay!” YCA believes that Tay Anderson would be an effective advocate for public education. As a recent graduate of the Denver public school system and his expansive knowledge on education and student issues that face the Colorado public school system today; Anderson will bring a new in depth perspective to the school board. Anderson seeks to renew Denver Public School’s lunch program, fight for comprehensive preventative programs for unaccompanied youth, and invest in our educators to create a dynamic and rich learning environment. Anderson’s stances are very much in alignment with the goals of Youth Caucus of America’s Education Policy Committee which believes in investing in educators for a more sound learning environment and improving quality lunch programs. By standing with Tay, students in the Denver school system will receive the support and educational tools that they need to be successful, something YCA believes every student deserves the opportunity to have. For these reasons, YCA endorses Tay Anderson for Denver School Board District 4 representative.


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Our Youth Deserve a Second Chance

On behalf of Youth Caucus of America, I urge you to contact your representatives and urge them to cosponsor the Renew Act, H.R. 2617, introduced by Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). The bill would expand the qualifying age for expungement of a simple possession conviction for nonviolent, low-level, first-time drug offenders. The Renew Act would increase age eligibility to allow qualifying offenders under the age of 25 to seek an expungement order.

A criminal record is often a barrier for those who are seeking a second chance to become productive, taxpaying citizens. One bad decision can prevent an individual from obtaining a decent paying job or financial aid for college to advance their education. It can even make it difficult for a first-time offender to put a roof over his or her head.

Under current law, 18 U.S. Code § 3607(c), offenders under the age of 21 can apply for and receive an expungement order for a first-time, nonviolent offense. The National Conference of State Legislatures Neurobiological Development Research states, that the brain is not fully developed until around the age of 25, affecting decision-making and risk assessment abilities. Generally, the parietal lobes of the brain fully develop by age 16, but the temporal lobes are still developing and the frontal lobe continues to develop into the early 20s.

The Renew Act would increase age eligibility to allow qualifying offenders under the age of 25 to seek an expungement order. The criminal record of an eligible individual would still be available to the Department of Justice if necessary for future proceedings.
The Renew Act allows for opportunities for young people who have made a mistake to move on with their lives and become productive, taxpaying citizens.
For these reasons, I urge you to contact your representatives and urge them to cosponsor the Renew Act, H.R. 2617.

Coby J. Owens
Chief Executive Officer
Youth Caucus of America


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Statement Regarding the Las Vegas Shooting

Youth Caucus of America joins the nation in expressing its horror, shock, and grief regarding the events that occurred in at the Route 91 music festival and the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Police Department has confirmed that there were at least 59 dead and 527 injured. Many hotels on the Las Vegas strip close to the scene were placed on police lockdown and parts of Las Vegas Boulevard were shut. While the gunman has been identified, the Las Vegas Police Department has not established a motive for the attack.

The thoughts and prayers of Youth Caucus of America are with those who were affected by the tragedy.


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Statement Regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Youth Caucus of America reaffirms its support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The legislation addresses the issue of undocumented children under the age of 16, “Dreamers” by incentivizing the legal declaration of their status, provided that they have no criminal record and have earned a high school diploma. Under DACA, these people are allowed a social security number, a driver’s license, and are given authorization to work — as well having relief from the fear of being deported. DACA is not a path to permanent citizenship, but it grants a temporary but renewable opportunity for undocumented youth to pursue life. Its repeal would counter national interests by removing productive workers from our economy, as well as costing the US government billions of dollars in lost future tax revenues. These educated youth are, by definition, products of the US education system, and their deportation would be a waste of tremendous national investment. We should treat these driven, educated, and English-speaking young people not as a burden, but as a resource.  

With enthusiasm, Youth Caucus of America proudly reaffirms its support for DACA, and welcomes the acceptance of educated, yet undocumented youth, provided that they meet the criteria established in this legislation.

 

Rekha Iyer

Policy Chair, Education Committee


Statement Regarding Department of Education’s Title IX Rollback

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Department of Education would begin the process of rolling back provisions within Title IX that protected survivors of sexual assault on college campuses in the United States on Thursday September 7th.

The provisions in Title IX were first implemented under the Obama administration.

Youth Caucus of America is shocked and appalled by Secretary DeVos’ announcement and by the callous new approach that the Department of Education is seeking to take in regards to helping survivors achieve justice. We strongly believes in a survivor-centered approach to resolving sexual assault on campuses around the United States, and do not think that this administration’s restructuring of Title IX provisions will have the needs of survivors as a priority. Rather, we are concerned that Secretary DeVos’ plans will lead to more assailants and rapists walking free, more fear amongst survivors, and a harder system to contend with in order to achieve justice.

Coby Owens, CEO of Youth Caucus of America, commented:

“No system is perfect, but I would find it difficult to pinpoint one that is. The culture which permits campus sexual assault must come to an end in order to make our spaces for learning genuinely habitable, and the Title IX guidelines have done a considerable amount to flip the script.

If the President and his administration really wanted to “make America great again,” they would begin by making our schools habitable incubators for learning and growth, not the opposite. Our education system is the birthplace of hope. It’s the point at which curiosities are nourished, creativity is discovered, and entire universes within us transform from black-and-white to technicolor.”

As a part of our #TakeNoForAnAnswer campaign, Youth Caucus of America has previously expressed our support for S. 856/H.R. 1949, the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, which intends to implement increased support services and campus resources for students alleging sexual assault, enforce new reporting requirements, and encourage coordination with law enforcement. Now, more than ever, we are calling upon legislators and students alike to champion legislation and action that will help survivors of sexual assault achieve justice through the channels set up by institutions of higher education.


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Press Release: Youth Caucus of America Partners with the March for Racial Justice

YCA is proud to announce our official partnership with the March for Racial Justice, which is occurring on September 30 in Washington, D.C.. As an organization dedicated to advancing the rights of young Americans, we believe it is vital to stand up for the rights of minority youth. By working towards eliminating racism, we can ensure that the next generation of Americans lives in a society in which everyone has the ability to reach their fullest potential, regardless of race.

Website: www.m4rj.com


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In Response to SB. 1 (Evidence Based School Funding)

Youth Caucus of America is committed to our nation’s public education system. In accordance to our policies, Youth Caucus of America is proud to announce its support for the Evidence Based School Funding Act, which changes how school funding is allocated. We strongly support SB. 1, sponsored by Senator Andy Manar and Representative William Davis, because the quality of a child’s education should not be determined solely on geographic location. Currently, wealthier districts spend up to $30,000 per student, while the less the poorer districts only spend around $8,000 per student. By implementing SB 1, a bill that allocates funds to schools based off how much each district can afford to pay in property taxes and what needs each district has (low-income, ELL, special needs, etc), the Illinois State Government will be be able to better provide their schools with the funding for the resources needed to supplement education programs. Simply put, SB. 1 will level the educational playing field, and ensure that all public schools and students receive the funding they need to succeed. Youth Caucus of America strongly advocates the implementation of this legislation.

With enthusiasm, Youth Caucus of America proudly supports SB. 1, and thus the appropriate allocation of funding for public schools.

Rekha Iyer, Policy Director

 

Michael Chen, Research Analyst

Noah Tang, Research Analyst


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Statement Regarding President Trump’s Dismantling of DACA

Youth Caucus of America is appalled and dismayed by the decision made by President Donald J. Trump and his administration to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA program was created in 2012 by President Barack Obama to protect “Dreamers”, undocumented individuals who were brought into the United States when they were under the age of 16. DACA has facilitated the integration of Dreamers into American society by allowing them to receive a Social Security number, authorization to work, a driver’s license, and peace of mind. By meeting the strict criteria set out by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Dreamers have proven themselves to be individuals who are positioned to achieve personal success. DACA has given many people the opportunity to achieve a normal and productive life that enriches our communities and betters the country.

The White House’s decision to phase out DACA foists the lives of nearly 800,000 Dreamers into chaotic uncertainty. Many of these individuals are young people whose lives and futures are imperiled by the questionable decision making of the current administration. Dreamers now face the possibility of being removed from classrooms and jobs and deported to a country they may not even remember. Youth Caucus of America firmly believes in the equality and participation of all in the United States. The disruption of the lives of so many members of our country is unconscionable and challenges the notion of America as a meritocracy.

Youth Caucus of America does not approve of this administration’s decision to phase out DACA and to shatter the lives of thousands of young people across this nation.

 


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Statement Regarding “Unite the Right” Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia

Youth Caucus of America is devastated and horrified by the violence, hatred, and bigotry surrounding the “Unite the Right” rally taking place in the city of Charlottesville in Virginia. The “Unite the Right” demonstration is a protest against the planned removal of a statue of civil war general Robert F. Lee in Charlottesville. However, the rally and events leading up to it have been marked by the presence of racist white nationalist groups and individuals. Reports of chants such as “Jew will not replace us” and “White lives matter” coming from white nationalists in Charlottesville are divisive and profoundly disturbing. Clashes between protesters and counter-protesters armed with shields and batons have reportedly led to 15 people being injured. This morning, the Charlottesville Police Department reported a car ramming into a densely packed crowd of individuals protesting the rally, killing one and injuring 19 other individuals. The disorder and fighting that has engulfed the protests and counter-protests have forced the governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, to declare a state of emergency.

Youth Caucus of America does not condone the violent acts and the divisive rhetoric being used in Charlottesville. We hope for the safety of those currently in Charlottesville.


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