Political Watch: July 4, 2024

• Representatives in the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force announced a new effort to force a vote on legislation led by U.S. Reps. Lucy McBath (D-Georgia) and Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) to expand Americans’ access to red flag laws, which allow the removal of a gun from someone who is deemed by a court to pose a threat to themselves or others, according to a June 26 statement from Carbajal’s office. “Red flag laws should not be controversial. Studies have shown us that the vast majority of perpetrators of mass shootings show similar warning signs, including sharing their plans. And Republican- and Democratic-led states alike have implemented them to protect communities and individuals from harm,” Carbajal said in the statement. “Since I came to Congress, I worked to get funding allocated to help expand use of these red flag laws, which we did through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Expanding on that success with new avenues for intervention, new resources for training, and better standards for data would help more communities and save more lives.” If a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives signs the discharge petition, it would bypass House leadership and trigger a vote on the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, which was introduced by McBath and Carbajal in February 2023, according to Carbajal’s office. The legislation would unlock the ability for federal courts to issue extreme risk protection orders, temporarily removing guns from someone who is deemed a risk to others or themselves; instruct the Department of Justice to create a dedicated grant program to help states, local jurisdictions, and Native American tribes implement risk protection order laws; and extend the federal firearms restrictions to individuals who are subject to extreme risk protection orders. 

• U.S. Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-California) and U.S. Sen. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, urging the department to issue a policy directive ensuring that vulnerable children seeking protection through the Central American Minors program (CAM) have access to counsel during their refugee interviews with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, according to a June 26 statement from Butler’s office. “We applaud the Biden administration for reopening and strengthening the CAM program, however, DHS’s prohibition on access to counsel during CAM interviews undermines children’s ability to meaningfully access protection while limiting the program’s potential to ease pressure and enhance orderliness at the U.S. southern border,” the senators wrote in their letter. CAM—an in-country refugee processing program—provides certain children who face danger in northern Central America with a lawful and orderly pathway through which they may seek to reunite with parents or legal guardians who reside and have lawful immigration status in the United States, according to Butler’s office. By helping eliminate the need for impacted children to make a dangerous journey to the U.S. southern border in pursuit of safety, CAM reduces the strain on U.S. border operations. The program also combats labor exploitation by helping ensure that children arrive with lawful status and are reunified with parents.

• According to new state and federal employment data, California’s fast food industry has added jobs every month this year, including roughly 10,600 new jobs in the two months since Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the fast food minimum wage bill into law, according to a June 26 statement from the governor’s office. In his State of the State address, Newsom spoke directly to the importance of building an economy for all Californians. “We built this economy by valuing the dignity of work, cherishing family time, and honoring labor unions. You shouldn’t have to be a CEO to live a decent life—and in California, you don’t have to be,” Newsom said in the State of State address. “The California spirit means working hard and being rewarded with a paycheck that meets your needs. All our progress on higher wages and better benefits for working people—it’s not just about the hourly pay rate. It’s about building a dignified and respectful future where everyone is included in our growth. We are a state that gives a damn about fast food workers—who are predominantly women—working two and a half jobs to get by. Because of the leadership of California’s Legislature, these hard workers finally got the raise and job security they deserved.”

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