Cardin holds lis­ten­ing ses­sion with faith com­mu­nity lead­ers

Dorchester Star - - Regional - By SARAH DRURY sdrury@ches­pub.com

CAMBRIDGE — U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., vis­ited Cambridge on Fri­day, March 10, and held a lis­ten­ing ses­sion with nu­mer­ous clergy and lay lead­ers in the faith com­mu­nity from through­out the Eastern Shore.

This lis­ten­ing ses­sion was hosted by Waugh Chapel Methodist Church and Cambridge Mayor Vic­to­ria Jack­son-Stan­ley. Cardin and the faith lead­ers dis­cussed a va­ri­ety of is­sues in­clud­ing hate-based at­tacks hap­pen­ing across the state, the Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­peated at­tempts to ad­vance re­stric­tions on travel and im­mi­gra­tion and more.

“We need your help. We need your strength. There are cer­tain things we can do in gov­ern­ment and cer­tain things we can’t do in gov­ern­ment and when we work with the pri­vate sec­tor and work with the faith com­mu­nity we can get a lot more done,” Cardin said.

Cardin also said that through­out his ca­reer as a sen­a­tor he has reached out to the faith com­mu­nity, seek­ing their ad­vice and as­sis­tance.

The sen­a­tor was pri­mar­ily on the Eastern Shore due to the open­ing of the Har­riet Tub­man Visi­tor’s Cen­ter and Har­riet Tub­man Na­tional Park. He said that they are very proud of this new park and that it’s not easy to put to­gether a new na­tional park, but this state was able to get it done.

“In the spirit of Har­riet Tub­man, I am go­ing to chal­lenge you as to what we should be do­ing to help the peo­ple of our com­mu­nity and be more ef­fec­tive,” Cardin said. “This is a lis­ten­ing op­por­tu­nity for me.”

Cardin also said he is greatly con­cerned about the fu­ture and what type of coun­try his grand­chil­dren are go­ing to grow up in. He added that this is the age of al­ter­na­tive facts and al­ter­na­tive facts are lies.

The first topic brought up was the is­sue with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies, which Cardin said wor­ried him.

“This coun­try was built be­cause of the peo­ple who had the courage to come here,” Cardin said. “Refugees are per­se­cuted in­di­vid­u­als; these are peo­ple whose lives are at risk.”

Cardin said he met with the king of Jor­dan a few weeks ago and was told that over 600,000 refugees were stay­ing in Jor­dan. The king said that it did cause a fi­nan­cial strain, but not any prob­lems.

While he agrees that there needs to be more pro­tec­tion on the bor­der, he does not be­lieve a wall is the right idea, some­thing Trump has pushed since the cam­paign trail. Cardin said he wanted to know how they could en­hance the core val­ues of this coun­try.

Cardin also voiced his sup­port for the Af­ford­able Care Act (ACA) and that he will fight to pro­tect the ad­vance­ments made in health care.

When asked if out­reach to sen­a­tors’ of­fices such as phone calls, text mes­sages and email are a good idea and if the mes­sages are ac­tu­ally heard, Cardin said they ab­so­lutely are. He added that due to this out­reach from the pub­lic, they have made quite a bit of progress but there is still a lot to be done, so he en­cour­ages ev­ery­one to con­tinue.

Su­san Olsen of In­di­vis­i­ble Dorch­ester said that she of­ten wrote Cardin’s of­fice and wanted to know what spe­cific peo­ple they should con­tact about cer­tain is­sues and asked what they could do to help him.

Cardin said they could work through na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions and that they could pro­vide the pub­lic with names of rep­re­sen­ta­tives that want to hear from them.

“I think that if we are go­ing to con­tinue to re­pair and im­prove what we have in the ACA we are go­ing to need more ev­i­dence-based de­sign ex­perts, a greater in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary panel and what we have to­day may not be good for five years from now,” said Bishop Joel Mar­cus John­son.

Cardin agreed that the ACA could im­prove in cer­tain ar­eas even though he sup­ports it.

“The is­sues be­fore us are pro­found and they are con­cern­ing but also en­er­giz­ing,” said Rabi Peter Hy­man. “We are grate­ful for your al­liance and your lead­er­ship.”

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