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PC(USA) ministries call for admission and welcome of Afghan refugees

Office of Public Witness calls for advocacy and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance details how to help

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

Raees Amiri, who in spring 2021 was a recent refugee from Afghanistan, speaks with Macie Nichols at an event at Second Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, celebrating the church’s co-sponsorship of Amiri and his family with Kentucky Refugee Ministries. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness is calling on the U.S. Congress and the White House to expedite admission of Afghan refugees to the United States, and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is providing a guide for how Presbyterians and others can make their communities welcoming destinations for refugees.

The issue became critical earlier this month as the United States military began a planned withdrawal after nearly 20 years in the country as part of the U.S. response to the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York and Washington. That is leaving thousands of Afghans who worked with the United States military desperate to leave the country for fear of reprisals from the Taliban government.

“Nearly 80,000 of our Afghan allies are still in danger in Afghanistan,” the Action Alert from the Office of Public Witness (OPW) reads. “We must evacuate ALL of our Afghan allies. It is imperative that we contact our national elected leaders and hold the administration accountable to urgently evacuate all of our Afghan allies to U.S. territory AND immediately expand and expedite access to the U.S. resettlement program.”

The alert points out that on Aug. 2 the State Department designated certain Afghan nationals and their families as Priority 2 for admission to the U.S. The designation is for groups of special humanitarian concern to the U.S., but the alert also noted that only a small percentage of Afghans have made it to the U.S. thus far. The Action Alert includes ways for people to directly contact their congressional representatives and the White House.

Both the Office of Public Witness and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) are Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

The Amiri family is shown this spring on the playground at Second Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. The church co-sponsored the family with Kentucky Refugee Ministries for their first months in the United States. (Photo by Rich Copley)

In a Thursday night webinar focused on citizenship for all undocumented immigrants living in the United States, Amanda Craft of the PC(USA) Office of the General Assembly’s Office of Immigration Issues took time to highlight the Afghan situation.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance said a broad effort will be necessary to support Afghans coming the U.S.

“We will need every tool in our immigration/refugee processing toolkit to respond in a timely manner to those whose lives are at risk — as parolees, as visa holders and, eventually, as refugees,” a blog post from PDA’s Refugee Ministry reads. “The U.S. Government has already been working with nine U.S.-based NGOs to receive these allies, resettling them to places in the country where the majority already have contacts.”

Read the OPW Action Alert to contact elected officials

Read the PDA blog post about welcoming refugees

Charlotte, the daughter of one of the members of the Second Presbyterian Church Louisville refugee team, shares a bag of popcorn with the daughter of the Amiri family, recent refugees from Afghanistan. Charlotte has really enjoyed getting to know refugee children. (Photo by Rich Copley)

After echoing OPW’s call for advocacy on behalf of Afghan refugees, the blog goes on to detail ways people in the U.S. can prepare to welcome Afghans to their communities, including information about the process, a tool to help find refugee resettlement programs, educational opportunities regarding refugees and refugee resettlement, and, of course, prayer.

“Pray for our churches and ourselves, that our hearts may be open and our hands and feet ready to meet the needs of the Afghans who are already arriving and will need our solidarity and compassion as they seek to rebuild their lives in the U.S.,” the post concludes.


Read more

See how a Louisville church welcomed Afghan refugees late last year.

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