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National Evangelical Organizations Post Comments on Proposed ‘Public Charge’ Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Prominent evangelical organizations have posted the formal public comments they submitted regarding the Trump administration’s proposed “public charge” rule.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities and World Relief each submitted comments.

Leaders of these and other evangelical organizations released the following joint statement Monday, explaining their opposition to the proposed rule, including concerns about its potential impact on marriages and families:

On October 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published a proposed regulation in the Federal Register that would redefine longstanding understandings of who should be excluded from immigrating lawfully to the U.S. because they are likely to become a “public charge.” As the leadership of the Evangelical Immigration Table, we are troubled by the likelihood that these changes would keep many families apart.

This proposed regulation does not change existing policies that already restrict family-sponsored immigrants from accessing most means-tested public benefits, nor does it amend the existing requirement that a U.S.-based sponsor make a legally-binding commitment to be financially responsible for their immigrant family members.

Instead the proposal gives broad new discretion to governmental employees to deny applications for family reunification and other lawful immigrant visas based on the suspicion that an individual might someday apply for public benefits, taking into account considerations such as current income, family size, credit history and education level. 

The likely effect of this proposed rule change would be to significantly reduce legal immigration to the U.S., particularly among those applying on the basis of marriage or other close family ties. Families with multiple children, single-income households including those in which one parent has chosen to stay at home to care for children and those with children with medical issues or special needs would be particularly disadvantaged under the terms of the proposal. By one estimate, as many as 200,000 married couples annually could be denied immigrant visas, forcing the couple (and in many cases, their children) to either live separately or to live abroad. This is a deeply troubling shift in policy.

Over the past several years, thousands of evangelical pastors and ministry leaders have joined a call for immigration policy that prioritizes “the unity of the immediate family.” Evangelicals believe that marriage is an institution created by God and that the family is the most foundational building block of society. While Christians may disagree at points on the exact role of government in caring for the poor through public benefit programs, we are unified in our commitment to maintaining the unity of the family whenever possible. Policies that separate or bar the reunification of families are deeply troubling. We believe that all government policy – including immigration policy – should promote the strength and unity of families wherever possible.

In addition, attempts to restrict legal immigration, whether by administrative or legislative changes, are likely to incentivize illegal immigration.

As such, we are opposed to the proposed rule change. We encourage evangelical Christians throughout the country to voice their opposition to this proposal as well. And we urge our elected officials at all levels to do what is within their authority to ensure that our immigration policies protect the unity of immediate families.

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief

Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

Hyepin Im, President, Faith and Community Empowerment

Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador and General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church

Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

Evangelical Leaders Raise Concerns over Proposed ‘Public Charge’ Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nationally prominent evangelical leaders are expressing concerns about the impact on marriages and families of the Trump administration’s proposed “public charge” rule.

The proposal from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would significantly redefine who could be considered a “public charge” and thus restricted from lawful immigration to the U.S. The public comment period closes today.

The evangelical leaders’ statement is available here and follows in full:

On October 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published a proposed regulation in the Federal Register that would redefine longstanding understandings of who should be excluded from immigrating lawfully to the U.S. because they are likely to become a “public charge.” As the leadership of the Evangelical Immigration Table, we are troubled by the likelihood that these changes would keep many families apart.

This proposed regulation does not change existing policies that already restrict family-sponsored immigrants from accessing most means-tested public benefits, nor does it amend the existing requirement that a U.S.-based sponsor make a legally-binding commitment to be financially responsible for their immigrant family members.

Instead the proposal gives broad new discretion to governmental employees to deny applications for family reunification and other lawful immigrant visas based on the suspicion that an individual might someday apply for public benefits, taking into account considerations such as current income, family size, credit history and education level. 

The likely effect of this proposed rule change would be to significantly reduce legal immigration to the U.S., particularly among those applying on the basis of marriage or other close family ties. Families with multiple children, single-income households including those in which one parent has chosen to stay at home to care for children and those with children with medical issues or special needs would be particularly disadvantaged under the terms of the proposal. By one estimate, as many as 200,000 married couples annually could be denied immigrant visas, forcing the couple (and in many cases, their children) to either live separately or to live abroad. This is a deeply troubling shift in policy.

Over the past several years, thousands of evangelical pastors and ministry leaders have joined a call for immigration policy that prioritizes “the unity of the immediate family.” Evangelicals believe that marriage is an institution created by God and that the family is the most foundational building block of society. While Christians may disagree at points on the exact role of government in caring for the poor through public benefit programs, we are unified in our commitment to maintaining the unity of the family whenever possible. Policies that separate or bar the reunification of families are deeply troubling. We believe that all government policy – including immigration policy – should promote the strength and unity of families wherever possible.

In addition, attempts to restrict legal immigration, whether by administrative or legislative changes, are likely to incentivize illegal immigration.

As such, we are opposed to the proposed rule change. We encourage evangelical Christians throughout the country to voice their opposition to this proposal as well. And we urge our elected officials at all levels to do what is within their authority to ensure that our immigration policies protect the unity of immediate families.

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief

Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment

Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador, General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church

Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

Evangelical Leaders Call for Compassionate Response to Caravan

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Evangelical leaders released a statement today encouraging churches to pray for Central American migrants making their way through southern Mexico toward the U.S.-Mexico border, and to join calls for comprehensive, compassionate immigration solutions.

“Beyond the role of the government, we encourage churches—both in the U.S. and in Latin America—to respond with Christ-like love to the vulnerable families and individuals who form this caravan,” they write. “… We also invite you to continue to join us in calling for a comprehensive solution to our deeply broken immigration system, which limits our government’s ability to effectively manage a large influx of asylum seekers and to protect those whose lives are in danger.”

The following are quotes today from Evangelical Immigration Table leaders:

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“At World Relief, we have worked with local churches to assist those who have fled their countries because of persecution or poverty for decades; we stand ready to do so now as individuals make their way through Mexico, many reportedly seeking asylum in the United States. Our government’s role is to enforce and abide by the law, which includes an obligation to ensure border security but also to carefully consider and adjudicate each request for asylum from those professing a credible fear of harm. We can be both a secure nation and a compassionate nation.”

Galen Carey, Vice President, Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Politicians and journalists sometimes sensationalize news reports while obscuring the real story. A few thousand desperate people fleeing violence and seeking a better life does not mean that our country is about to be invaded. Our borders are relatively secure, and our laws, while urgently in need of modernization, at least provide an opportunity for those fleeing persecution to present their case and be considered. We should be proud that our country has historically been the world’s leader in welcoming refugees. We urge our leaders not to overreact, and to allow those seeking asylum to have their day in court.”

Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities:
“The caravan represents extraordinary complexity, yet these times require Christians to be clear about what God requires of us: To love him and our neighbor dearly and to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God, who is not daunted by complexity. It won’t be easy. It will be costly. It will be right.”

Hyepin Im, President and CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment:
“The United States has a proud history of serving as a safe haven for those fleeing persecution and violence. We also have had moments in our history that we’re not proud of, when we turned away those fleeing persecution. Our asylum laws were written to ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past, allowing anyone with a well-founded fear of persecution who reaches the U.S. the right to request protection. As a nation, we must not disregard our laws by turning our back on those who qualify for protection.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Global Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church:
“Jesus said that the greatest commandment — the summary of all biblical instruction — was to love God and to love our neighbors. When pressed by a legal scholar on precisely what he meant by the command to love our neighbors, Jesus responded by telling the story of a ‘Good Samaritan’ who had compassion on a traveler of a different ethnicity who was in desperate need. And he told his followers to ‘go and do likewise.’”

Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“People fleeing for their lives are not to be used as political props. Those escaping violence and persecution in Honduras and elsewhere bear the image of God and should be treated with dignity and compassion. As Christians, we should share the heart of Jesus for refugees and others imperiled. Applying for asylum is legal in the United States of America, and the law should be carried out for everyone who seeks to apply. Not everyone will receive asylum, but everyone should have the opportunity to follow the law.”

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Alone in America: An Undocumented Child’s Journey from Solitude to Solidarity

Re-posted with permission, originally posted here: https://www.stand-together.org/alone-america-undocumented-childs-journey-solitude-solidarity/

Torn Apart and Left Alone

One chilly December day after school in 2004, Juan Terrazas walked through the front door of his home in Dallas, Texas, and found his sister Alma and cousins huddled together on the couch.

“Your dad’s in jail,” they told him. Their voices were grave.

(more…)

US Refugee Resettlement Program Reaches A New Low

October 14, 2018

Many Refugees experience unbelievable hardships as they are forced to flee their homes, often leaving family members behind. Most refugees are women and children. Many die trying to escape war and persecution. Sometimes, they have family members who were killed by the governments in their countries. Many have undergone arrests, imprisonment and even torture due to their political or religious beliefs or their ethnicity.

Read more from Blogarama>>

Evangelical Leaders Sign ‘Chicago Invitation’ to Counter Pro-Trump Narrative of Evangelicalism

October 5, 2018
Over three dozen progressive evangelical leaders signed onto a statement countering the “false narrative” that has led many to paint evangelical Christians as only white conservative Trump supporters.

Organized by the evangelical social justice organization Sojourners and Evangelicals for Social Action, at least 39 left-leaning Christian leaders have signed on in support of a new declaration called “The Chicago Invitation: Diverse Evangelicals Continue the Journey.”

Read more from Christian Post>>

Pence pressure prompts USAID to appoint liason for Iraqi Christians

October 1, 2018

Displaced Iraqi Christians now have their own special liaison to the premier US aid agency, thanks to pressure from Vice President Mike Pence.

USAID Administrator Mark Green has appointed Max Primorac as special representative for minority assistance programs to oversee the distribution of US aid for Iraqi Christians and Yazidis as they seek to rebuild their lives.

Read more from Al-Monitor>>

There’s no reason for a low cap on refugees

September 26, 2018

On Sept. 17, the Trump administration set the 2019 refugee admissions ceiling at 30,000, the lowest number ever.

Refugees live through some of the most traumatic experiences one can imagine: being beaten for physical features, being threatened with imprisonment because of their faith, losing contact with family for a decade because war broke out in their city. These stories happen to Christian people, Muslim people and people of many other faiths.

Read more from AL.com>>

Evangelical Leaders: Refugee Cuts Conflict with Admin’s Goal of Religious Freedom

September 26, 2018

A group of evangelical leaders wants the Trump administration to reverse course and increase rather than decrease the number of refugees admitted to the United States.

And with the new fiscal year starting Oct. 1, time is running out.

Hundreds of leaders with the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT) argue that the US should keep with its tradition of welcoming refugees, especially as the world struggles to help a record-high number of them.

Read more from CBN News>>

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