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PC(USA) ministries call on members to reject asylum reductions


Trump administration expected to call for zero refugee admissions in 2020

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness, and other faith leaders pray for refugee resettlement in front of the White House in September 2018. Once again, Presbyterian and other faith leaders are voicing opposition to Trump administration immigration policies. (Photo courtesy of Church World Service.)

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is taking a strong stand against a reported proposal by the administration of President Donald J. Trump to slash the number of refugee admissions to the United States to zero in 2020, and the church is urging members to make their voices heard.

“This should be a time of action for Presbyterians,” said Teresa Waggener of the Office of Immigration Issues in the Office of the General Assembly. “For many, some of our most pivotal experiences of God moving in the world have been when we have welcomed or experienced welcome. Knowing that there are those in need of welcome and that God has prepared our hearts to respond, should compel us into action.”

Susan Krehbiel, Associate for Refugees & Asylum in Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, said, “It is unconscionable that the U.S. Government is even considering not resettling one new refugee next year.  When you add this to all the policies to stop people from seeking asylum, our government is sending a clear message: No refugees are welcome here at all, no matter what the means.

“This is not who we are as a nation,” Krehbiel said. “This is not who we are as a church. We are a nation of refuge and we choose welcome.”

Click here to support Presbyterian Disaster Assistance’s work with refugees and asylum seekers:

The Washington-based PC(USA) Office of Public Witness issued an Action Alert Friday calling on members to contact their congressional representatives.

“The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and many other faith traditions are utterly appalled that the current administration would advocate for the United States to deny support and aid to people who need it the most,” the alert said. “As people who care about refugees, we must demand that Members of Congress publicly denounce this proposal and weigh in with the administration directly, urging them to commit to resettling 95,000 refugees (the historic average) next year.”

In addition to the Action Alert, the Washington office provides the “We Choose Welcome” action guide, which includes a variety of resources from church policy on immigration to background information on immigration and asylum and suggestions for how congregations can become involved.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance also has a variety of resources on its Refugee Ministry page, including information on how the church works directly with refugees and asylum seekers and how congregations can participate. Included among the resources are several documentary films such as “Locked in a Box” from PDA’s Story Productions, which was made well before the latest round of controversies surrounding immigration detention.

With the United States Congress’ upcoming August recess, people may want to take the opportunity to contact their representatives in person regarding immigration policy. The Office of Immigration Issues offers a guide to what the church is asking of representatives, including points like, “Protect the asylum process. Do not place limitations on what is allowed under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Stop imposing wait times at ports of entry that serve to manufacture crisis that make people choose between homelessness and irregular entry into the U.S.”

The Office also provides a postcard people can fill out and send to their representatives and suggests activities such as postcard-writing gatherings.

At 3 p.m. Eastern Time Tuesday, the Office of Public Witness will present the webinar “Speaking Truth to Power: A Faithful Response to U.S. Detention and Asylum Policies” to provide even more information about the current situation.

“PC(USA) has a long history of advocating for the fair and just treatment of refugees and asylum seekers,” the Office of Public Witness’ Action Alert continues. “Christians are called to love all God’s children and to extend to them hospitality and care. The current administration’s efforts to limit the rights and protections of refugees and asylum seekers does not fulfill this call.”

Read more

Webinar on seeking asylum in the United States coming Tuesday

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