People from Cameroon, Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo held in immigration detention centers because they put their trust in the U.S. as a place of safety only to be denied due process and ordered deported. Asylum seekers from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and dozens of other countries who were turned back at the U.S. border only now being admitted. Refugees who have been waiting for years overseas to be reunited with their families already resettled in the U.S. The Dreamers and essential workers who long to be fully recognized as the members of our communities that they already are. These are but some of the immigration challenges and opportunities faced by immigrants and Presbyterian allies.
President Biden has already issued six Executive Orders and a draft immigration bill expressing the Administration’s intent to reform refugee and asylum policy and practices, as well as to improve appropriations and federal programs. While the overall direction of all of these statements is positive, there is a need for continued and concerted advocacy to address issues where the Biden Administration has been silent—such as family detention—and to ensure that existing proposals are implemented in a way that brings justice and healing to the refugee and immigrant communities. Recognizing this, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) has dedicated $100,000 per year in 2021 and 2022 in targeted grants to support those speaking out for just immigration policies.
As we increasingly partner with established immigrant-led organizations, we have seen firsthand the impossible workloads and demands on their leaders as well as their limited capacity which adversely impacts our collective efforts. Grant funds can be used to support (and expand) the capacity of a local/grassroots refugee or immigrant advocacy so that they can connect the local and personal experiences with the national dialogue and campaigns.
While specific campaigns and actions are yet to be spelled out, we anticipate the need for advocates to address one or more of the following:
- Immigration Detention (ending family detention, ending private detention centers, and other ICE reforms)
- Asylum Reforms, including U.S./Mexico border policies
- Refugee Resettlement
- Integration & Citizenship (e.g. pathway to citizenship for DACA)
- Temporary Protected Status or other forms of humanitarian relief from deportation
PDA works in partnership with the Office of Immigration Issues and the Office of Public Witness, two other national offices of the PC(USA), advocating for more just and humane refugee and immigration policy. PC(USA) is an active member of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition and Church World Service which includes other national faith communities as well as refugee and immigrant-led organizations. We are interested in strengthening existing relationships and developing new ones that will center our advocacy on the experiences and voices of refugees and immigrant members of our faith community (actual “members” and those who are connected to PC(USA) congregations). We see this as core to implementing strategies that center on the Matthew 25 Invitation/Vision. Investing in refugee and immigrant advocates and lifting up their voices is part of a larger commitment of our denomination to de-center whiteness, confront xenophobia in our society, and work for the dismantling of racism within U.S. policies and the U.S. immigration system.
Because this is a new grant opportunity and circumstances vary greatly across the country, we want to hear from applicants about what funds are needed to sustain them as advocates in this moment. Ideally, we would distribute the funding to 4 different organizations. In selecting grant recipients, PDA will strive for diversity in nationalities and language groups, geographic reach within the U.S., and immigration policy focus. While it is not necessary for advocates to be a member of the PC(USA), priority will be given to supporting leaders with ties to the PC(USA). Total funds available for 2021 are $100,000 and the maximum grant amount cannot exceed $50,000. Application deadline is March 22 and recipients will be notified no later than April 5, 2021.
If you have any questions or would like more information about this grant opportunity, please contact Susan Krehbiel at firstname.lastname@example.org. The grant announcement and FAQ can be found here, and the application form and instructions can be downloaded here.