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Safe and Voluntary Refugee Repatriation
Despite the constant divisive debates about whether to welcome refugees, they have protection under international law by the 1951 refugee convention, a multilateral United Nations treaty. It defines who people can consider refugees and outlines their basic rights, including access to fair and efficient asylum procedures. Despite the ever-present debates about acceptance, very little of it has actually been to talk about what happens when countries refuse asylum seekers including the problem of ensuring safe and voluntary refugee repatriation rather than returning them to dangerous situations in their home countries.

Refugees in the US

A country must ensure that refugees live in safety and dignity while it is processing their claims, and safety and dignity are also integral to voluntary repatriation. In 2020, the United States will only accept 18,000 refugees. This will be the lowest number of refugees that the U.S. resettled in a single year since 1980 when Congress created the nation’s refugee resettlement program. In light of such low acceptance rates, a national debate around safe and voluntary repatriation is crucial so that those a country turns away will have safe alternatives. Without debate, there is no clear answer to where those refugees should go, if not the United States.

Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers

People often confuse the matter even more because they use the terms “migrants,” “refugees” and “asylum seekers” interchangeably, despite very different legal meanings and obligations. Amnesty International defines an asylum seeker as an individual who is seeking international protection whose claim a host country has not yet determined. In short, a country will not recognize every asylum seeker as a refugee, but every refugee is initially an asylum seeker. “Migrant” is a broad term that describes anyone who moves to another country for at least one year, for any reason.

“Repatriation” is when a person returns to their country of origin, whether it is because conditions have improved and they want to go home or because their host country has refused their request for asylum. According to the U.N. Refugee Repatriation Agency, safe and voluntary refugee repatriation requires not only the commitment of the international community to safely bring displaced people home but also the cooperation of the country of origin, which has to do the difficult work of reintegration and ensuring stability and safety.

So who will be the 18,000 refugees the U.S. allows in 2020? In 2019, refugees coming to the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo far outnumbered those from other countries. D.R. Congo accounted for nearly 13,000 refugees, followed by Burma (Myanmar) with about 4,900, then Ukraine (4,500), Eritrea (1,800) and Afghanistan (1,200).

Repatriation

As of November 13, 2019, a total of 1,439 individuals repatriated. ReliefWeb, an online news source for humanitarian information on global crisis and disasters, reported that approximately 14,700 refugees chose to return to their country spontaneously and by their own means. However, home countries and the international community are working together to help with safe and voluntary refugee repatriation.

The United Nations, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Angolan government collaborated on organizing convoys for voluntary repatriation. Wellington Carneiro, UNHCR’s interim representative in Angola, stated that voluntary repatriation faced challenges like poor road conditions in the rainy season and the need to find suitable vehicles as a result. However, Carneiro assured that the operation, which he expected to finish by mid-December 2019, would fully guarantee the returning Angolans’ safety and dignity. While the international community’s collaborative work was a big part of the success of these trips, the Angolan government played the most important role. Paolo Balladelli, the U.N. Resident Coordinator in Angola, highlighted this when he said that “the Angolan authorities have shown their solidarity by welcoming people, including children, who were at risk of life due to serious ethnic conflicts. The conclusion of this chapter demonstrates to Africa and the world that Angola is a good example of good international practices.”

Julia Stephens
Photo: Flickr

Martin Luther King Jr. quotes on familyMartin Luther King Jr. is remembered for many things. He was the leader of the American Civil Rights movement, an advocate for nonviolence, an inspirational speaker and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. At home, he was also a husband and father to four children. His dedication to his family was deeply connected to his vision for the United States. In fact, Dr. King’s mission for peace and equality was greatly inspired by his desire to help future generations of children. He consistently used familial metaphors and symbols to illustrate his greater points. Here are the top Martin Luther King Jr. quotes on family.

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes on Family

  1. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.” (“I Have a Dream” speech, August 28, 1963)
  2. “Without love, there is no reason to know anyone, for love will, in the end, connect us to our neighbors, our children and our hearts.” (Date unknown)
  3. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” (speech in St. Louis, March 22, 1964)
  4. “When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands…” (“I Have a Dream” speech, August 28, 1963)
  5. “The group consisting of mother, father and child is the main educational agency of mankind.” (Date unknown)
  6. “I want to be the white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law.” (New York Journal-American, September 10th, 1962)
  7. “The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.” (Strength To Love, published 1981).
  8. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” (“I Have a Dream” speech, August 28, 1963)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quotes on family went hand in hand with his mission for equality. Whether it was America’s children or his own, Dr. King emphasized coexisting and love for one another throughout his famous speeches. He used images of brotherhood and children to exemplify the relationships he believed Americans should have with one another. To Dr. King, family referred to more than blood relatives. It encompassed all people in the United States, regardless of color. Today, his message of prioritizing family is forever ingrained in his legacy, to be studied and appreciated by generations to come.

Natalie Malek
Photo: Flickr

Fighting Global PovertyPeople helping people. Country helping country. Giving back to the world is not a strange concept and is a welcomed idea in most societies. A popular form of global help is foreign aid. The umbrella term commonly refers to monetary assistance provided by outlying or foreign governments. The funds are generally distributed through humanitarian organizations, non-profit groups or directly from a foreign government. As such, the aid is given to citizens in an abundance of forms, such as money, food or shelter. While some can afford to provide more than others on a purely numeric comparison, the amounts are measured or valued differently depending on the country’s economic standing. This list consists of five countries fighting global poverty who outshine the rest.

Top Five Countries Fighting Global Poverty

  1. Norway begins the list as it provides the largest amount of foreign aid in comparison to its GDP. The government put 1.11 percent of its GDP towards global humanitarian aid, spending NOK 455 million as of 2018. The country utilizes organizations such as the U.N.’s CERF (Central Emergency Response Fund), the Red Crescent Movement and the Red Cross. Recently, Norway channeled much of their funds into CERF in order to assist Venezuela in its growing refugee crisis. Norway’s contributions towards these programs effectively fight against global poverty and prove the nation should be in the top five, as its generosity in comparison to its national budget is the highest in the world.
  2. Luxembourg also contributes a significant portion of their GDP towards humanitarian and foreign affairs. Approximately 1 percent of their national budget, or about USD 413 million, is used for aid. Some of Luxembourg’s projects include poverty reduction through community development in Laos, education improvement in Burkina Faso and health care in Nicaragua. These countries receive specific help from various agencies and organizations like LuxDev and the Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs. These groups and projects, though just a few select examples, show how much effort Luxemborg puts in fighting poverty.
  3. Sweden comes forward as another example of a smaller country with a smaller budget who still makes a grand impact in the world. As about 1.04 percent of its GDP, or about USD 5.8 billion, is used for humanitarian and foreign aid, Sweden holds a top ranking. While the money touches on a broad range of topics, from civil rights to education, specific Swedish projects focus on poverty issues. For instance, Sweden recently provided aid to Somalia for drought relief through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Somalia Humanitarian Fund. Sweden makes a mark on the world by not only tackling larger, conceptual issues, but by also responding quickly to disasters and world events. Such assistance highlights the country’s proficiency in the fight against global poverty.
  4. The United States is a leader in fighting global poverty as it contributes the most money towards humanitarian and foreign aid. Within the past few years alone, the U.S. contributed USD 30 billion towards various forms of international aid. The nation utilizes several different federal agencies, non-profit groups and other organizations to distribute aid. The U.S. commonly works with popular organizations such as UNICEF or the Red Cross. A prime example of the U.S. effect on the world is with the sheer number of countries it provides for, as it touches nearly 40 different nations, including Pakistan and Mexico.
  5. Germany also provides a significant amount of aid with nearly USD 20 billion contributed towards humanitarian projects in recent years. This accounts for nearly 0.70 percent of the national budget. Popular organizations and agencies include the World Food Program, which Germany utilized to provide relief to Africa. In addition to such organizations, Germany is known to donate large amounts of money to other countries, a notable example being Syria in recent years due to their ongoing crisis. Germany’s monetary generosity also makes it the second-largest donor in the world to foreign aid, falling in just behind the U.S.

Whether it’s a natural disaster or political turmoil, when a country is in need, surrounding neighbors will often step up to help.

– Eleanora Kamerow
Photo: Flickr

Aid to the Palestinians
A school abandoned and torn down. A sewage system shut off and covered in asphalt. These are just two of the projects that the U.S. is in the process of shutting down as it cuts almost all foreign aid to the Palestinians. Previously, the U.S. was a top donor to the Palestinians, giving $5 billion since 1993. However, the government announced an intention to cut off aid last year, 2018, in order to put pressure on Palestinian leaders to accept the administration’s peace plan, which it is set to announce after Ramadan ends in early June. USAID has laid off all but 14 of its employees in the Palestinian territories, an 85 percent reduction in staff. Aid that funded anti-terrorism programs has also been cut.

Concerns Over Aid Cuts

Many people in the Israeli government supported these aid programs, both for humanitarian reasons and for the benefits they provided to Israeli national security. Dana Stroul, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Daniel Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, wrote in an article for NPR that “Israeli authorities understood that a breakdown in security, an economic collapse or a humanitarian crisis in the West Bank would place an enormous burden on Israel…The Israeli national security establishment remains painfully aware that it will face the burden – financial, security, and otherwise – of addressing a full-scale collapse in the West Bank or Gaza if the U.S. steps away or loses all influence and credibility with the Palestinians.”

The Israeli government opposes cutting aid, calling on the U.S. government to amend the law that resulted in the cuts. One Israeli security official said that “[i]f the law doesn’t change and no solution is found…[t]his will harm a top priority Israeli national security interest.”

Others Provide Aid

In the U.S.’s absence, others have stepped up. A week ago, the European Union announced that it would be giving an additional 22 million euro ($24.6 million) in aid to the Palestinians. The new aid package will focus on health care, food security and safety for vulnerable families.

In addition, the government of Qatar pledged to give $480 million in aid to the Palestinians. While the U.S. and Qatar have allied historically, these countries have had a strained relationship recently, with Qatar defying U.S. sanctions to provide aid to Turkey. The Qatari government has frequently come under fire for human rights abuses.

The good news is that there are ways to restore these programs. In addition to following the Israeli government’s recommendation to amend the law cutting aid, Stroul and Shapiro have several more solutions. The U.S. could specifically allocate money to complete currently unfinished aid projects, such as the school and sewage system mentioned above. Congress could also pass current bills aiming to improve aid to the Palestinians. One of these is the Palestinian Partnership Fund Act, which aims to connect Palestinian entrepreneurs with potential business partners in the U.S., Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Moreover, the U.S. is considering renewing aid. Last month, six senators proposed a bill to restore aid to the Palestinians. “[R]efusal to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people is a strategic mistake,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), one of the bill’s sponsors. “Denying funding for clean water, health care and schools in the West Bank and Gaza won’t make us safer. Instead it only emboldens extremist groups like Hamas and pushes peace further out of reach.”

– Sean Ericson
Photo: Flickr

Mexico
Recently, immigration has been at the forefront of political controversy given its potential for economic impact on both nations. The underlying economics of U.S.-Mexico immigration offers a glimpse into the roots of the issue and how it is being addressed today.

Escaping Drug Activity

Currently, a great deal of the migrants come from economically and politically troubled states where a great deal of blame is directed at drug organizations battled by federal governments. The poorer states tend to have a disproportionate amount of drug-related activity, which can bottleneck growth to the drug-elite in the states.

Take, for example, Michoacán. The state is a leader in the most migrants sent to the United States and has also been noted as one of United States’ five states to avoid when traveling in Mexico. While the state is 15th in GDP, it accounts for 57 percent of Mexico’s ‘very poor’ population.

Seeking Economic Stability

Drug activity, however, is only a part of the problem. While job prospects are available, the pay rate is very low. Unemployment sits around the three percent mark, but the minimum wage rate is just below five dollars. The high opportunity cost of those working in cartels serves as a major factor in why many may join. For others, crossing the borders to the north is a better option.

Of the 50 states, California receives the most of the legal and illegal immigration from Mexico (37 percent). Consequently, the state and private organizations have taken significant measures to try and remedy underlying economic stressors and ensure smooth transitions for immigrants in the U.S.

Decrease in Emigration

Over the years, factors in the economics of U.S.-Mexico immigration have shifted. Although there is increased media coverage, emigration from Mexico has actually decreased. Since 2008, the number dropped from 6.4 per 1000 residents to 3.3 and has continued to fluctuate around the number.

Part of the reason is that conditions in the United States, while better, are not easy to access. Stanford scholars at the university’s Immigration Policy Lab found that a high cost of naturalization actually prevents low-income immigrants from becoming citizens. The fee to apply for citizenship in the United States is $725, a steep price for numerous immigrants.

Outside Aid

To address the economic issues in Mexico, Mexican organizations such as ProMéxico have tried to change the image globally by attracting foreign investment. At the core of its goals is the belief of “obeying the principle of the common good and contributing to sustainable development.” As the organization develops over the next few years, it hopes to expand its reach and deepen its impact.

Similarly, American initiatives have followed suit. LatinSF is a public-private partnership between the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the San Francisco Center for Economic Development that works to “promote business and trade between San Francisco and the Latin American region.”

Starting a formal connection between San Francisco and the Latin American region is key for mutual development. This effort helps individuals working in Mexico and provides an opportunity for immigrants arriving in the United States.

Academic and Technological Influence

Once immigrants are in the United States and settle in states like California, local universities pitch in. UC Berkeley and Stanford University each have their own Immigration Law Clinics which offer “law assistance to economically disadvantaged immigrants.”

The clinics help prep immigrants, regardless of immigration status, with interviewing, document filing and other legal matters. Private organizations such as the ACLU and Immigrant Legal Resource Center have contributed in the same way as well.

The issue is not just being addressed by the legal field. Studies conducted at UC Berkeley have led to new developments such as an app that recognizes immigrant concentrations and government funds that are not being allocated to the correct locations.

By correcting spatial differences, Jasmin Slootjes, executive director of the Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative, notes that the initiative is “providing local officials with the facts about immigrant communities and their service needs.”

Unweaving the Complex Economics of U.S.-Mexico Immigration

The immigration issue is undoubtedly complex. It is important to remember, however, that the underlying economic factors are the first steps to resolving the issue.

Addressing the problem will require the continued effort of both proactive organizations like ProMéxico and universities that help immigrants acclimate to a new world, and such combined efforts should make a world of impact.

Mrinal Singh
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in America and World’s Poorest Countries Has Common SolutionThe United Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948 as a minimum standard of treatment and quality of life for all people in all nations. Article 25, section 1 of the declaration states, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food…” As important as these words are, they have not yet become a reality for many people in the world. Some common solutions to food insecurity may help alleviate world hunger.

Falling Short of the U.N. Standards

Often, countries represented in the U.N. fall short on the promise to provide adequate, nutritious food to everyone, including the United States of America. Malnutrition and food insecurities can be attributed to many causes worldwide: political turmoil, environmental struggles and calamities, lack of financial resources and lack of infrastructure to distribute food equally within a country.

It is widely known that the poorest nations often lack the means or the will to sufficiently supply food to the people and their most vulnerable populations. Ethnic minority groups, women and children and those living in rural areas often suffer the most. In 2006, the Center for Disease Control reported that widespread media attention in 2005 brought global awareness to a food crisis in the West African country of Niger. According to the report, out of Niger’s population of 11.5 million in 2002, 2.5 million people living in farming or grazing areas were vulnerable to food insecurities.

Identifying the Problem in Food Distribution

In her article entitled Food Distribution in America, Monica Johnson writes, “With each step added between the farm and the consumer, money is taken away from the farmer. Typically, farmers are paid 20 cents on the dollar. So even if the small-scale/medium-sized farmer is able to work with big food distributors, they are typically not paid enough to survive.” Essentially, the middlemen are taking profit directly out of the farmer’s hands.

In America, conventional food supply chains are used in the mass distribution of food. This method starts with produced raw goods. These products are transferred to distribution centers that may offload goods to wholesalers or sell them directly to food retailers where these goods are finally purchased by consumers at grocery stores and markets. Food may travel very long distances throughout this process to be consumed by people who could have purchased comparable foods grown much closer to home.

One example is the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center (HPFDC), which is one of the largest food distributors in the United States, with over $2 billion in annual sales. According to the New York Economic Development Commission, it sits on 329 acres of land in the Bronx, New York. It supplies over 50 percent of the food consumed by people in the area and also supplies its goods to about 20 percent of people in the region. Yet, still, the Food Bank of New York City reported a meal gap of 242 million in 2014 and food insecurity levels of 22.3 percent, with 399,000 of those people being children.

Solutions Lie in Local Support

About 13 years after the Niger food crisis, the country is still one of the poorest in the world. The World Food Program (WFP), headquartered in Rome, Italy, continues to focus on fixing the problem of food insecurity in nations like Niger. Through helping those like Nigeriens build sustainable livelihoods and ecosystems for crop cultivation, the WFP hopes to lower the high levels of food insecurities and issues related to them, such as malnutrition and the high mortality rate among children under the age of five.

One essential component in the common solutions to food insecurity is assisting locals with the sustainable management of local natural resources through soil conservation, water harvesting, rehabilitating irrigation systems and reducing the loss of biodiversity. This is directed toward localized measures to solve food deficiency issues.

The same steps need to happen in America. The HPFDC in New York, in an effort led by Mayor Bill de Blasio, is planning to upgrade facilities and operations. A plan that includes working with other food distributors at the state level to increase integration with upstate and regional food distribution, supporting local farms and providing growth opportunities for emerging regional food distribution models.

These common solutions to food insecurity could help feed millions of people around the world. Reducing the middlemen in food distribution will put more money back into the hands of the farmers. Additionally, by reinforcing sustainable farming at local levels, farmers will have more opportunities to provide relief from food insecurity in their own communities with more nutritional diversity, which can reduce malnutrition and high mortality rates.

Matrinna Woods

Photo: Flickr

United States' Role in Global EducationIn late July 2017, a resolution was introduced to the House of Representatives supporting the United States’ role in global education. The resolution aims to ensure the U.S.’s assistance in the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which grants children access to quality education in the world’s most impoverished countries.

In April 2017, the GPE called for a 3-year plan to support a large number of developing countries in their effort to improve the quality of education and provide proper access for approximately 870 million children.

The resolution, which was referred to the Committee of Foreign Affairs, was introduced by Republican representative David Reichert of Washington. It voices the ongoing concerns about disenfranchised children in other parts of the world who have limited or no access to quality education.

It was resolved that the House of Representatives considers it the United States’ role and duty to improve access to quality education to marginalized children worldwide. Additionally, it was resolved that the House encourages commitment and investments by the U.S. government, international donors, private foundations and private sector donors through the GPE to fund the ongoing global effort to promote education for children and youth worldwide.

The resolution addresses the issues of lack of basic literacy and numerical skills in approximately 250 million children worldwide. It also outlined the benefits of improving the quality of education. It stated, for example, that, “access to quality education reduces poverty, advances economic prosperity, improves peace and security and strengthens public health.” The investment in global education could positively affect these situations.

The incentives to invest in global education via the GPE were made clear as well. The World Bank has found that every year of school decreases the chance of male youth in violence by around 20 percent. The Global Education Monitoring Report found that the majority of the world’s children who do not attend school live in areas wrought with violence and conflict. Education also impacts health: the Global Education Monitoring Report found that an educated mother is more likely to have her children vaccinated. The report also found that girls who attend school are less likely to be infected with HIV.

In 2014, support for the Global Partnership for Education led to approximately 64 million more children attending primary school than 2002, as well a 10 percent increase in primary school completion over the same period.

To ensure the access of education to children worldwide and increase the United States’ role in global education, you can ask your representative to cosponsor House Resolution 466.

Melanie Snyder

Photo: Flickr

How "Extreme" is the U.S. Refugee Screening Process?
As global concern about terrorism has grown in the past several years, so has demand for strict security measures regarding the resettlement of refugees. The U.S. refugee screening process was a common theme in the 2016 presidential debates. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton spoke on the issue, and some constituents called for “extreme vetting” of refugees coming into the U.S. What many people don’t know is how extensive the existing process is.

The resettlement process begins with applicants identifying themselves to the U.N. Refugee Agency, the UNHCR. Applicants present the UNHCR with all identifying documents and, after an interview, the organization determines whether or not they qualify as refugees. Only applicants who are strong candidates for refugee status move forward in the process. This number equates to less than 1 percent of refugees worldwide.

The average time an applicant spends waiting to be resettled after being approved as a refugee by the UNHCR is anywhere between 18 months and two years. During this time, the applicant’s case is carefully reviewed and screened by a number of different resources.

After receiving official refugee status from the UNHCR, the applicant is referred for resettlement to the U.S. by the U.N., a national embassy or an NGO. The applicant goes through a series of security checks run by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In the U.S., these bodies include the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The screenings look for any indication that the applicant could pose a threat to domestic security, such as connections to known terrorists or past criminal history. The screening process is repeated if new information comes to light during any point of the resettlement process.

Next, the applicant goes through an in-person interview with a U.S. Homeland Security officer who has been specially trained to interview refugees. Fingerprints are taken at the time of the interview and scanned against the DHS biometric database, which contains watch-list information and details regarding any previous immigration accounts overseas. The applicant then goes through a medical screening and may be treated for communicable diseases if necessary.

Applicants also go through intensive cultural classes and are matched with U.S. partner agencies that will assist them when they arrive at their new homes. Prior to departure, applicants undergo one more security screening to check for any new information. Upon arrival in their new cities, months’ worth of cultural orientation helps them adjust properly to living in the U.S.

Overall, the existing U.S. refugee screening process is methodical and rigorous.

Peyton Jacobsen

Photo: Flickr

Fight Global Poverty ODA Spending
David Cameron will be remembered by history as the Prime Minister who called the “Brexit” referendum, but during his last days in office, Cameron sought to stress a different achievement: lifting Official Development Assistance (ODA) spending to 0.7 percent of national income.

The target was met during a time of economic austerity and in spite of intense criticism from members of Cameron’s own political party. This resolve should inspire other wealthy countries to do their part in fighting global poverty.

Looking at the data, several facts jump out. The UK has a clear lead among G7 countries and is the only one to meet the UN’s recommended 0.7 percent target. The United States, despite being both the wealthiest country in the G7 on a per capita basis and the largest economy in the world, comes in last in ODA spending relative to national income.

If America spent the average 0.35 percent of other G7 countries, it would spend an additional $33 billion a year. Reaching the level of the UK would mean over $90 billion more.

Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have given away over $54 billion total as part of their philanthropic efforts. The Giving Pledge, Gates’ and Buffet’s initiative to encourage the wealthy to give away their fortunes, has so far attracted total pledges of around $360 billion from 139 of the wealthiest individuals in the world.

The yearly contribution America could give by rising to the UK’s level of ODA spending is larger than the total lifetime donations of two of the richest men in world and a third of the total amount pledged by 139 billionaires. This is a powerful reminder that the political process is a central part of the struggle against poverty.

The first of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals is to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere.” This ambitious goal calls for a concerted effort on the part of wealthier countries. Since the UN adopted the resolution in 1970 which stated ODA spending in developed countries should be at least 0.7 percent of their gross national product, only a handful of countries have risen to that level.

Aid skeptics often point out that waste, fraud and corruption mean that much of the aid meant for poor beneficiaries ends up lining the pockets of kleptocrats. This problem is exaggerated, but it should serve as a call to action for reforming aid distribution practices, rather than a reason to cut off support for those who need it most

Jonathan Hall-Eastman

Photo: Flickr

Difference Between a Congressman and a Senator
There is widespread confusion regarding the difference between a congressman and a senator. While it’s clear that a senator is a member of the Senate, does the term “congressman” include senators, or does it refer exclusively to members of the House of Representatives? And what comprises the “Congress” of the United States?

The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 1, says, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”

Merriam-Webster defines “Congress” as “a particular congress; especially: the congress of the United States that includes the Senate and the House of Representatives.”

So, both the Senate and House of Representatives make up the U.S. Congress. Shouldn’t this mean that the term “congressman” applies equally to both a senator and a representative?

According to Merriam-Webster, a “congressman” is “someone (especially a man) who is a member of a congress and especially of the U.S. House of Representatives.”

 

Unwritten Rules: The Difference Between a Congressman and a Senator

 

Herein lies the central confusion. It is technically correct to use the term “congressman” in relation to any elected representative from the either House or Senate. However, it is also clear that when a person refers to a “congressman,” they are more often than not referring to a representative from the House.

This situation is further complicated by the gender-specific nature of the term “congressman.” In its place, it is possible to use the gender-neutral term “congressperson,” which Merriam-Webster defines as “a congressman or congresswoman.” The website for the U.S. House of Representatives affirms that the terms “congressman” and “congresswoman” are equally valid.

Having determined the appropriate designations for each type of elected representative, it is worth noting that there are some other basic differences between a senator and a member of the House of Representatives.

The guidelines for the election and apportionment of each are outlined in the United States Constitution, and by subsequent amendments to the Constitution.

Representatives and senators both are elected by popular vote in each state in the U.S. However, while each state elects exactly two senators per term, the number of representatives per state are apportioned according to the state’s population.

Representatives are elected for two-year terms, and senators are elected for six-year terms. To be eligible for appointment as a representative in the House, an individual must be at least 25 years old and have been a U.S. citizen for seven years. The eligibility requirements of senators are slightly stricter, as an individual must be at least 30 years old and have been a U.S. citizen for nine years to be elected as a senator. In either case, the individual must be a resident of the state in which they are running for office.

While the House has the power to vote on impeachment, the Senate has the power to conduct the trial of the impeached individual.

The Senate has exclusive powers, including the fact that treaties cannot be ratified without the Senate’s consent. Senators also confirm presidential appointments to office, such as appointments for justices of the Supreme Court.

Legislation, however, must be approved and ratified by both the House and the Senate before it can be enacted.

Katherine Hamblen

Photo: Flickr