Every day there is something else in the news about refugees, immigrants, or the border—it is difficult to keep up with it all. And, try as we might, it is too much to really understand after one class or webinar. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it on your own because, whether you are interested in learning more for how you can act as an individual or as part of a congregation, there are a wide range of opportunities. In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to share information through this blog about ways Presbyterians are—and can be—the hands and feet and voices of welcome.
As an expression of how important this is to our entire denomination, PC(USA) joined several other denominations with Church World Service and the National Council of Churches to sign an Ecumenical Declaration to Expand Welcome. Together, we stand united in our resolve to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Asylum Seekers – Children and Families arriving at the Border
On March 23, 2021, our Stated Clerk, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II released a statement calling for protection, compassion and humanitarian aid for unaccompanied children.
Watch and Learn
Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s webinar, A Faithful Response at the Border: Welcoming Migrant Children and Asylum Seekers, provides context to what’s currently happening at the U.S./Mexico border, amplifies stories of impacted asylum seekers, answer questions, and shares how you and your faith community can respond.
Register to attend LIRS’ Our Call to Care: Supporting Unaccompanied Children at the Southern Border which will take place on Wednesday, March 31 at 4 p.m. to learn more and how to welcome and support these children.
- Reach out to organizations in your own community to support their work. Remember that the border is not the final destination, but just the beginning.
- Find organizations and resources for congregational action.
- PDA Toolkit on Accompaniment of Asylum Seekers
Whether you’re just dipping your toe in the water or trying to stay up-to-date on the latest changes to resettlement, CWS has a Lunch & Learn Series which covers many aspects of the system. If your church is exploring sponsoring a refugee/refugee family, PC(USA)’s “Preparing Welcome” provides many talking points with which you can facilitate thoughtful discussion along the road to commitment.
RCUSA’s Community Sponsorship page provides a map detailing nearby involvement opportunities: You can welcome a refugee to your community through community sponsorship. As a community sponsor, you can partner with your local resettlement agency to greet a refugee family at their airport, assist them in securing and furnishing initial housing, connect them with local services, and show them all of the things that make your community so special!
The Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement Act (GRACE) Act is legislation that would rebuild the United States’ legacy of welcome by establishing a minimum refugee admissions goal of 125,000 and increase congressional oversight over the administration’s operations of the resettlement program. The legislation was introduced on March 25th in the Senate by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Joe Neguse (D-CO) on March 26th.
CWS has provided some options regarding how to contact your Member of Congress and suggestions about how to amplify this message on social media here.
Sign up by April 2nd to join the Refugee Council USA Advocacy Days during April 19–23, 2021. We invite refugee and immigrants’ rights partners, former refugees, new Americans, resettlement staff, faith leaders and people of faith, and individuals who support refugees to consider participating. Priority is being given to specific states and districts and all participants must attend a pre-advocacy training session. If you are interested in participating, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.