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Category Archive for: "Statements and Press Releases"

Evangelical Leaders Object To Trump Administration Refugee Cap, Call for Increase

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday a ceiling of just 30,000 refugee admissions for fiscal year (FY) 2019, far lower than what leading evangelical voices have been urging.

Before President Trump consults Congress and formally signs a declaration, some evangelical Christian leaders are asking that they raise the cap significantly so that it reflects both the historical norm and the current record-high number of refugees worldwide.

They say that further cuts to the refugee resettlement program would harm religious freedom internationally and continue to shut out refugees of all backgrounds, including persecuted Christians and other religious minorities.

National leaders from the Evangelical Immigration Table sent a letter asking the Trump administration to admit more refugees for these reasons, also signed by more than 400 local pastors and leaders.

The announced new cap is even lower than this year’s historic low of 45,000 for this FY 2018, and the U.S. is on track to take in fewer than 22,000 refugees this fiscal year, also a record low.

The following are quotes from Evangelical Immigration Table leaders:

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“A cap of 30,000 jeopardizes the safety of future refugees, including persecuted Christians, who will no longer be able to find refuge in the U.S. It also does not reflect the actual capacity or willingness of Americans to receive and resettle refugees. This decision contradicts the administration’s declared commitment to helping persecuted Christian and religious minorities in dangerous and oppressive countries. Evangelicals should be concerned by this assault against our call to support ‘the least of these.’”

Galen Carey, Vice President, Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Since the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States has resettled more than 3 million refugees, an average of over 80,000 per year. Over this time, our GDP in real dollars has nearly tripled, while the number of refugees forced to flee their countries has also tripled to more than 25 million. The United States has led the world in providing opportunities for the world’s most vulnerable refugees to rebuild their lives in safety and peace. And yet, for 2019 the State Department has proposed to resettle only 30,000 refugees, a drastic reduction from our historic norm across Republican and Democratic administrations. We can do much better than this. We call on President Trump to approve a refugee admissions target of at least 75,000 for 2019.”

Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities:
“Students and faculty in many Christian college and university communities, along with their local churches, have been deeply invested in welcoming refugees and helping them to integrate into local communities for many years. Now, though, the number of refugees admitted nationally is down roughly 75 percent from what it was just two years ago, and this week’s proposal to further reduce the refugee ceiling means arrivals will likely decline even further. Throughout the country, there are many eager to apply our Christian faith by welcoming those who have been forced to flee persecution. I urge our government to return the refugee ceiling to a level consistent with past administrations.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador and General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church:
“The administration has made some laudable efforts to highlight the importance of protecting religious freedom internationally. But this proposed dramatic cut to the U.S. refugee resettlement program — which over the past four decades has provided safety, religious freedom and a new start to hundreds of thousands of persecuted Christians forced to flee their home countries — undermines our national credibility on questions of religious freedom. It’s not too late for President Trump to change course and sign a presidential determination for a refugee ceiling closer to the historical norm, such as 75,000, which would mean hope for thousands of persecuted people throughout our world.”

Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“Seeing yet another drop in refugee numbers should be a shock to the conscience of all Americans. One day we will be ashamed that we as a nation turned inward, and away from our great tradition of serving as a beacon of liberty to those fleeing for their lives. Obviously, we cannot take in unlimited numbers of refugees, but the increasingly lower number of those we do take is far below the level where America could and should be in leading the world in compassion for those in peril. As a Christian, I am concerned for the well-being of all those in peril. And I stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in Christ in the persecuted church, many of whom will be harmed by this closed door.”

Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“America has long been a beacon of freedom and safety for those fleeing persecution, including many persecuted for their Christian faith, but the proposed cap of just 30,000 refugees would mean stepping back from our historic role of global leadership. We can both be a secure nation and a compassionate nation, leading the world in resettling the most vulnerable refugees who have been identified and vetted abroad and ensuring due process for those who reach our country to request asylum.”

Evangelical Leaders Urge Trump Administration to Admit More Refugees

Click here for a recording of today’s call

September 12, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Further cuts to the U.S. refugee resettlement program would harm religious freedom internationally, local pastors and national leaders said on a press call today.

The Trump administration is expected to maintain or lower the refugee cap from this year’s historic low of 45,000, despite the record-high number of refugees worldwide. No matter the cap, the U.S. is on track to take in a record-low 22,000 refugees this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Refugees of all backgrounds, including Christians and other religious minorities fleeing persecution for their faith, have been shut out.

National leaders from the Evangelical Immigration Table sent a letter in August asking the Trump administration to admit more refugees, citing religious liberty and our history of offering safe haven to people fleeing religious persecution. Grassroots leaders have since joined them; more than 400 local pastors and lay leaders have signed on to the letter.

The following are quotes from speakers on today’s call:

Nathan Bult, Director of Government Affairs, Bethany Christian Services:
“At Bethany Christian Services, we know that refugee resettlement saves lives, and that is why we are deeply concerned about the decline in refugee admissions. Every refugee has a name, every refugee has a story, and every refugee matters to God — that means every refugee should matter to us. As persecution of religious and ethnic minorities escalates around the world, Bethany remains committed to welcoming refugees just like Jesus has called us to.”

Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Over the past 40 years, American evangelical Christians have opened their hearts and homes to hundreds of thousands of refugees, including many persecuted believers who would otherwise not be alive today. This extraordinary ministry of mercy has nearly ground to a halt as the sharp reduction in refugee resettlement approvals has left tens of thousands of refugees stranded in dangerous refugee camps and settlements. We can and must do much better than this. We ask President Trump to allow at least 75,000 refugees to resettle in the United States in the coming year.”

Eric Costanzo, Senior Pastor, South Tulsa Baptist Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma:
“At a time when the needs of the world’s most vulnerable are the greatest, we are in danger of welcoming fewer children, women and men than ever in our refugee resettlement program’s history, including after 9/11. The program has nearly been ground to a halt, and its infrastructure for the future is evaporating. As American evangelical Christians, living in a country with unmatched wealth and extravagance, I believe we must absolutely ask ourselves how God would have us respond on behalf of people made in His image during the worst refugee crisis the world has ever seen. We are praying that the current administration and our elected officials will listen to those of us who work with refugees personally, and restore responsible vitality to our resettlement program.”

Patrick Vaughn, Assistant Pastor, Christ Church East Bay, Oakland, California:
“As an evangelical pastor, I believe hospitality toward refugees reflects the heart of God. As followers of Jesus and as Americans, I believe the Church has extensive resources for welcoming refugees. It is my sincere hope, along with other evangelical Christians, that as a country we will be courageous by sharing our resources by welcoming refugees into the freedom and security that our country has to offer to refugees.”

Jenny Yang, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Policy, World Relief:
“The drastic decline in refugee resettlement over the past couple years has meant that far fewer persecuted people, including those persecuted for their Christian faith, have been able to find safety and religious freedom in the U.S. A further cut to the ceiling for refugee resettlement would harm even more people persecuted for their faith. We’re praying that President Trump will set the ceiling back at 75,000, and World Relief and our many partner churches, along with other resettlement organizations, stand ready to welcome them.”

Statement on the Life and Legacy of Sen. John McCain

August 30, 2018 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The leadership of the Evangelical Immigration Table issued the following statement reflecting on the life and legacy of Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), who died on Saturday. Quotes from Table leaders and Arizona evangelical pastors follow the statement:

“As evangelical leaders, we honor the life and leadership of Sen. John McCain. We will particularly miss his leadership in the long struggle to reform our broken immigration system. Sen. McCain pushed for immigration reform for years, participating in countless meetings with evangelical leaders both in Arizona and in Washington, D.C. He expressed appreciation for the approach and principles of the Evangelical Immigration Table, with a concern for border security, family unity, refugee resettlement, a responsive legal immigration system and a workable solution for the undocumented.

Representing a border state at the center of the nation’s immigration debate, he displayed a clear understanding of the issues and a keen appreciation for the invaluable contributions of immigrants to strengthening our nation. 

Sen. McCain was a man of character and faith, which he displayed in the many meetings during which he requested the prayers of faith leaders. He frequently would take the time to pray with those he encountered as he sought wisdom and courage to carry out his leadership duties faithfully.

His passing leaves a large void in Congress, not only on immigration but on other issues, including religious freedom and human rights. His leadership and role as a senior statesman will be missed deeply. Our prayers are with Sen. McCain’s family and loved ones during this difficult time.  We pray for others to take up his mantle of courageous and compassionate leadership.”

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 (formerly Korean Churches for Community Development)

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

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

Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

The following are quotes from national leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table and from local pastors in Arizona:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“John McCain courageously sought immigration reform — seeking answers instead of arguments. Who will courageously continue his cause?”

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“Sen. John McCain was a champion for refugees, immigrants and vulnerable people around the world. His values-driven leadership made our country and the world better, and he will be greatly missed.”

Caleb Campbell, Lead Pastor, Desert Springs Bible Church, Phoenix:
“Sen. McCain represented me in Washington for the majority of my life. Though a maverick, he was no island. He was part of the community and nation he served. His steadfast courage, principled leadership and winsome storytelling will be greatly missed.”

Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment:
“What a great loss for our country and the world. We will miss Sen. McCain’s leadership and presence.”

Chris Schutte, Former Rector, Christ Church Anglican, Phoenix:
“In the midst of his busy schedule in the fall of 2013, Sen. McCain took time with meet with a group of evangelical pastors to discuss how we might best engage our congregations on the issue of immigration. The senator took many personal risks in his consistent advocacy for a compassionate, pragmatic, and inclusive immigration policies—respectful of the rule of law while also understanding the complexities of individual stories—and his courage inspired us to draw on the biblical stories of welcoming strangers in our own life and ministries. He also seemed genuinely desirous of prayer. No one can replace Senator John McCain, but I’m hopeful that his vision for Arizona, America, and the world might take root in these most troubling times.”

Citing Religious Liberty, Evangelical Leaders Urge Trump Administration to Support Refugee Resettlement

August 8, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Evangelical Christian leaders have sent a letter asking the Trump administration to raise the refugee ceiling, citing religious liberty and our nation’s history of offering safe haven to people fleeing religious persecution.

Signatories express deep concern that further cuts to the U.S. refugee resettlement program would harm religious freedom internationally. The letter was sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.

“We ask you each to do all that is within your authority to ensure that the various departments of the U.S. government cooperate to resume refugee resettlement at a level consistent with historical norms, including recommending to the president a refugee ceiling of at least 75,000 for fiscal year 2019 and allocating necessary resources to ensure that refugees are being processed and vetted as efficiently as possible overseas,” the letter reads in part.

The following are quotes from national evangelical leaders who have signed on to the letter:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Those who are persecuted and displaced because of their faith need our support. For many, it is a matter of life and death. We urge our leaders to resettle at least 75,000 refugees in the coming year.”

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“Compassion and security are not mutually exclusive. The United States has for many years been a beacon of hope to persecuted people around the world. We have also been an example to many other nations who have followed our lead to welcome those persecuted for their faith. We have nearly abandoned this place of moral leadership — admittance of persecuted Christians from particular countries is down 98 percent, for example. We urge our leaders to return to our national heritage of welcome to persecuted people of all faiths (or no faith at all).”

Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities:
“The United States has long welcomed people from around the world who are fleeing dangerous situations, including religious persecution. Our faith calls us to care for those who are most vulnerable. The Church stands ready to assist refugees; there are good and ready solutions to urgent problems. We urge this administration to support these solutions.”

Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Korean Churches for Community Development/Faith and Community Empowerment:
“Our country was founded by those seeking religious freedom. We urge Secretary Pompeo and other leaders to continue to honor our country’s legacy and leadership. The recent stark decline in the number of persecuted Christians and other religious minorities allowed into the U.S. refugee resettlement program is appalling. We urge the administration’s leadership and commitment to those seeking protection and freedom and to reset the settlement numbers to past historic numbers.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador, General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church:
“As a participant in the recent ministerial conference on religious freedom, I was encouraged concerning the commitment of this administration to the suffering people. We in the faith community stand ready to welcome the persecuted and are ready for increased numbers.”

Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“I’m grateful for efforts to support religious freedom throughout the world. Until other countries are free of religious persecution, though, it is vital that the U.S. continue to welcome refugees who have been persecuted on account of their faith. As a nation, we must not turn our backs on the persecuted church.”

Travis Wussow, Vice President for Public Policy and General Counsel, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“One key measure of our country’s commitment to religious freedom abroad is how we treat the refugee fleeing persecution. Unfortunately, while attention to religious freedom is growing, the number of refugees admitted to the United States – including the admission of persecuted Christians – is shrinking. Our commitment is wide in speech, but is it deep enough in action to welcome refugees upon our shores? We are expected to do both.”

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Leading Evangelical Women Address Refugees, Family Separation, Dreamers

A recording of today’s call is available here.

June 18, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Prominent evangelical women from across the nation called for compassionate solutions to family separation and other pressing immigration challenges during a press call today.

Some of the speakers will join a delegation of evangelical women and men meeting with congressional offices Tuesday.

Speakers addressed the plight of refugees and others fleeing persecution ahead of World Refugee Day on Wednesday, as well as the importance of unified families and a solution for Dreamers. Thousands of evangelical women and hundreds of local pastors have signed on to a June 1 letter Evangelical Immigration Table leaders sent to President Trump, urging his administration to reverse the policy that separates families.

Despite a record number of refugees worldwide. the country is on pace to admit fewer than 22,000 refugees in 2018, down from nearly 100,000 in 2016 and more than 200,000 in 1980.

The following are quotes from speakers on today’s call:

Jennifer Foy, Executive Director, World Relief Triad (High Point, N.C.):
“The dramatic decline in refugee admissions over the past year has directly contributed to the crisis we’re seeing at the border today. With far fewer opportunities to come lawfully as a refugee — after applying abroad and undergoing a thorough screening — more and more individuals facing very real threats of violence feel they have no choice but to make a difficult journey to the U.S. border to request asylum. That we’d then take their children from them is simply wrong.”

Kathryn Freeman, Director of Public Policy, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission:
“Each of the issues we discussed today — refugee resettlement, family separation along our border with Mexico, and Dreamers — are significant issues for Texas Baptists. I’m eager to share with Texas elected officials on Capitol Hill tomorrow why it’s so urgent that we find solutions.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Global Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church:
“As a mother and a grandmother, I’m horrified by what our government is doing to children at the U.S.-Mexico border. We’re calling on the administration to reverse this ‘zero tolerance’ policy immediately, while also urging them to resume our nation’s historical role of leadership in resettling refugees.”

Helena Muliwa, former refugee from Burundi, resettled by World Relief Triad:
“I’m so thankful for this country for providing me, for the first time in 25 years, with a safe and secure place. While I’m grateful for my own sake, though, I’m mindful of the many other refugees, fleeing various conflicts around the world, who are not offered the same opportunity that I had. I’m praying our elected officials will listen.” 

Dr. Shirley Mullen, President, Houghton College, Houghton, N.Y.:
“Refugees are playing a key part in the economic and cultural revitalization of our northern cities like Buffalo and Utica. They are bringing to America in 2018 the same kind of renewing energy that refugees have always brought to America throughout its history. We strongly support the return to traditional higher levels of refugee resettlement. As we have worked to provide affordable and high-quality educational resources for refugees in Buffalo and Utica, we have found them to be among the most appreciative, energetic and grateful citizens of our country today. They are committed to investing in an America that will be better for all of us.”  

Trillia Newbell, Director for Community Engagement, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“For evangelicals, the Bible is our top authority. The Scriptures are clear that God loves and protects refugees and other immigrants. He cares for children. He made each person in his image, and their lives are worth protecting.” 

Kelly Rosati, Justice Liaison, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“Whether we’re talking about families showing up at the border right now or Dreamers who were brought here decades ago, we all ought to be able to agree that we should not punish children for the actions of their parents. I personally think those parents are heroic, seeking to provide safety and a future for their kids. But, even for those who disagree, we ought all agree that we should not punish children for their parents’ decisions, nor use these kids’ as a political bargaining chip.”

Ava Steaffens, CEO, Christian Community Development Association:
“Having grown up in a family who came to the U.S. as refugees from Cuba, these issues are deeply important to me personally. For the thousands of local ministries that are a part of the Christian Community Development Association, these are concerns that affect us every day. I’m praying that our elected leaders will act quickly to reverse harmful administration policies that are diving families at the border and dramatically restricting the U.S. refugee resettlement program, and that Congress will work together on a bipartisan basis to find a permanent, inclusive solution for Dreamers without draconian cuts to legal immigration options.”

Southern Baptist Convention Reaffirms Support for Immigrants

June 13, 2018

DALLAS The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) overwhelmingly passed a resolution affirming its support for immigrants and call for immigration reform during its annual meeting Tuesday.

The resolution highlights the importance of maintaining family unity, the need for a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants with appropriate restitutionary measures, and the importance of secure borders.

“I am grateful for the strong, unanimous vote of the Southern Baptist Convention in support of our immigrant neighbors and brothers and sisters in Christ. I am grateful for the way that churches all around the country are ministering to immigrant communities,” said Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. “Now is the time for our country to act justly, to stop separating families, and to fix an immigration system that is hurting too many people in our country today.” The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is a member of the Evangelical Immigration Table.

The resolution also calls upon Southern Baptist churches to actively minister to vulnerable immigrants and denounces “any form of nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation [as] inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ.” A separate resolution, also passed Tuesday, specifically reaffirms a 2016 call for “Southern Baptist churches and families to welcome and adopt refugees into their churches and homes.”

The Southern Baptist Convention, which is the nation’s largest evangelical denomination, last passed a resolution calling for immigration reform in 2011. As Tuesday’s resolution notes, “after seven years of continued policy gridlock, there have been no substantive changes in the immigration system that would make it more just, humane, efficient, and orderly.”

Other leaders within the Evangelical Immigration Table added their support for the SBC resolution:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals
The Southern Baptist Convention got it right about immigration reform taking too long.  Government hears pleas and debates recommendations but keeps postponing to future years while so many children and families keeping waiting.

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“Southern Baptists and other evangelicals have long advocated for immigration reform consistent with biblical values of compassion, family unity, and respect for the rule of law. This new resolution re-affirms that evangelicals continue to stand with immigrants. In the midst of a number of troubling changes to US immigration policy, I’m encouraged that evangelical Christians are speaking up clearly for the dignity of our immigrant brothers, sisters, and neighbors.”

Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities:
“We commend our Southern Baptist brothers and sisters in Christ for their reaffirmation of the value and dignity of immigrants, their call for a just and equitable immigration system, and their encouragement for churches to serve their local immigrant communities. We pray Congress will act to fix our broken immigration system so that it reflects these values and most immediately provides a permanent, legislative solution for Dreamers — beloved children of God.”

Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment (formerly Korean Churches for Community Development):
“The Southern Baptist Convention’s resolution on immigrants is a powerful testament to who we are and what we are called to do as believers.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Global Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church:
“I’m so grateful to the Messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention for this powerful resolution. I look forward to how we will all work together making this resolution a reality in the lives of millions of immigrants and refugees who will experience the love, hope and a future through the servants of Jesus Christ.”

Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“Hispanic evangelicals — including many Southern Baptists as well as many in other denominations — are grateful for this very strong, unanimous resolution from the Southern Baptist Convention this week, clearly affirming both the urgency of immigration reform and the call on all Christians to extend God’s love to the immigrants in our midst.”

Local Pastors Decry Family Separation, Echoing National Evangelical Leaders

June 6, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hundreds of evangelical Christians across the country, including about 200 local pastors and ministry leaders, have added their names to a letter denouncing policies that divide children from their parents.

National evangelical leaders sent the letter to President Trump Friday, as Christianity Today, CBN, the Arizona Republic, the San Antonio Express-News and others have reported.

“We are concerned that the new ‘zero tolerance’ policy at the U.S.-Mexico border … has had the effect of separating vulnerable children from their parents,” the letter reads. “The traumatic effects of this separation on these young children, which could be devastating and long-lasting, are of utmost concern.”

The letter also urges the president to resume a robust refugee resettlement program. The U.S. is on track to resettle fewer than 22,000 refugees in 2018, down from nearly 100,000 in 2016 and more than 200,000 in 1980.

The following are quotes from local evangelical leaders who have signed on to the letter:

Laurie and Kenton Beshore, Lead Pastors, Mariners Church, Orange County, California:
“Evangelical Christians have a range of political beliefs when it comes to immigration issues, but one thing that unites us is a biblically-informed view that God has established families and that we should do all we can to protect children. It’s wrong to separate small children from their mothers and fathers who are seeking asylum under the terms of our laws. Doing so could have long-term traumatic impacts on these children. I hope and pray that our nation will reverse course on this policy.”

Sam Creagar, Pastor of Outreach, Faith Evangelical Free Church, Manhattan, Kansas:
“My faith and my conscience lead me to believe a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy that separates children from their families is wrong. I know border security is difficult and I understand that our nation’s laws must be enforced for the common good, but justice without discretion leads to cruelty, tyranny, and ultimately injustice.”

Lauren Fernandez, Pastor, Rhythm Church, Miami, Florida
“As followers of Jesus, we believe that God calls us to extend compassion for the suffering. The reasons Central America families, many of whom I call friends, travel to the border and seek asylum are complex. When we’ve reached the point of tearing children from their mothers as they arrive at the border, as is the effect of this new ‘zero tolerance’ policy, we’ve clearly gone too far and we have completely missed God’s call to suffer with others. My prayers are our leaders will extend mercy on the families and create justice through reformed immigration policies.”

Leslie Leyland Fields, Writer and Speaker, Kodiak, Alaska:
“As a mother of six, and as a Christian, I have to speak up against this wrong-headed ‘zero-tolerance’ immigration policy. Wars are raging around the world, and this is what we focus our power and influence on: separating families? Evicting, dividing and destroying our weakest and neediest neighbors? This is the furthest thing possible from the gospel.”

Chris Sicks, Associate Pastor, Alexandria Presbyterian Church, Alexandria, Virginia:
“The nuclear family was ordained by God as the strong foundation of a society. When the zeal to enforce a valid man-made law knowingly causes innocent children harm, it violates eternal moral law.”

Kevin McBride, Senior Pastor, Raymond Baptist Church, Raymond, New Hampshire:
“The current policy of separating children from their families at the border violates a biblical principle of protecting the family unit and tries to impose a false justice upon innocent children who have no voice in decisions made for them. As a Christian pastor I am called to help protect and heal families with God’s grace and mercy, not punish them.”

 

Evangelical Leaders Urge President Trump to Keep Families Together

June 1, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today evangelical leaders sent a letter to President Trump expressing concern over the new “zero tolerance” policy at the U.S.-Mexico border that is dividing children from their parents.

The new policy, announced recently by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, already has separated hundreds of families, including those who are seeking asylum in the United States. In their letter, evangelical leaders urge the president to work with the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider this “zero tolerance” policy and to provide due process to people seeking asylum.

Signatories also urge the president to work with the U.S. State Department to resume a robust U.S. refugee resettlement program, which in the past has allowed those with a credible fear of persecution to apply for refugee status abroad and enter lawfully, after a thorough vetting process, without making a dangerous trip to the U.S. border to request asylum.

“As evangelical Christians guided by the Bible, one of our core convictions is that God has established the family as the fundamental building block of society. The state should separate families only in the rarest of instances,” the letter states.

The Evangelical Immigration Table also opened up the letter today for local pastors and other evangelical leaders to add their names. If you are an evangelical leader, you can add your name here.

The following are quotes today from Evangelical Immigration Table leaders who signed the letter:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“The Bible says that families came first and government later. Let’s not buck the Bible by separating families.”

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“I’m deeply troubled that as families fleeing persecution reach our border, children are being separated from their parents. I know that President Trump doesn’t want to separate families, either, and I pray he’ll do all he can to reverse these policies as well as to ensure that the U.S. refugee resettlement program continues to allow vulnerable, persecuted families to be carefully vetted abroad and then rebuild their lives in the U.S. without needing to make a dangerous journey to our border.”

Hyepin Im, President and CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment:
“We as a nation are still bearing the pains and consequences of broken families as a result of war, slavery, divorce, immigration policies and other matters. It is tragic to inflict unnecessary pain by separating children from parents because of manmade rules … I pray that God will give wisdom to President Trump and our nation’s leaders to create the right policies that do not repeat the mistakes of the past but can protect our nation while leaving room to address and respond to humanitarian needs.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Global Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church:
“Americans are divided politically, but this issue is beyond politics. Any of us can imagine the terror that strikes a child separated from her mother or father, and the despair of a mother whose child has been taken from her. It’s vital that we respect our country’s longstanding asylum laws, that we do all we can to keep families together, and that we resume our history of welcoming refugees.”

Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“As Christians who care deeply about protecting families and children, we reject the idea that separating children from parents is a sensible component of any immigration policy. As Christians, we affirm both the rule of law and compassion for the vulnerable. Splitting up families is not in the best interests of the United States. American policy, even immigration policy, should promote the flourishing of families.”

Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“President Trump is a father and a grandfather, and I know he cares about families, including immigrant families. He also rightly cares about securing our borders. I believe he can find ways to both keep immigrant families together and protect American families from those who would do harm, and many Hispanic evangelicals are praying for him as he addresses these vital policy decisions.”

Rich Stearns, President, World Vision U.S.
“While the U.S. needs to address real concerns about our immigration system, approaches must be family-centered and child-focused,” said Rich Stearns, President and CEO of World Vision. “The single most important relationship for all children, especially those at risk of violence or in high stress situations, is that of a parent.  Separating children from their parents can have a devastating long-term effect on children’s mental, physical, and emotional development.”

Evangelical Leaders Urge Passage of the Adoptee Citizenship Act

April 19, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today evangelical leaders sent a letter to members of Congress in support of the Adoptee Citizenship Act, a bipartisan bill to ensure that adopted children of U.S. citizen parents are recognized as U.S. citizens.

The bill seeks to address a loophole in current law: under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, most children adopted from foreign countries by U.S. citizen parents are guaranteed U.S. citizenship, but an estimated 35,000 adoptees who were already 18 years or older when this law went into effect were not included. As a result, though children of U.S. citizen parents, these individuals lack the benefits of U.S. citizenship and in rare cases could even be subject to deportation.

“As Christians, we are called by God to care for both orphans and immigrants. Fulfilling this mandate is among our highest callings,” the leaders write. “We strongly believe that these adoptees, who are American in every way except their immigration status, should gain the rights and protections of U.S. citizenship.”

The letter concludes: “We hope that you will take swift action to reduce the pain and fear these individuals and their families face every day, and strengthen our country’s tradition of providing safety and refuge to adoptees born outside our borders.”

The following are quotes today from Evangelical Immigration Table leaders who signed the letter:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Adoptees get new birth certificates with the names of their citizen parents. Congress needs to stand behind these legal birth certificates with citizenship for all adoptees. Ask just about anyone on any street if children adopted by U.S. citizens become citizens themselves. They will say, ‘Of course they become citizens.’ Let’s make what everyone knows is right into the law of our land. Legal adoptions must include citizenship.”

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“Adoption is an expression of love and compassion and historically recognized by Republicans and Democrats alike as good for the child, the family and our national character. We urge Congress to address this gap in current law to extend the right of citizenship to those adopted by U.S. citizens.”

Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities:
“Family is a cornerstone of American society, and adoptees are no less a part of their families, their communities, or our nation, whatever their country of birth. Congress recognized this when it passed the Child Citizenship Act in 2000. Congress should now act quickly to address the loophole that has prevented 35,000 adoptees from obtaining U.S. citizenship.”

Hyepin Im, President and CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment:
“This bill is long due. The full promise of America was made to adoptees including so many from South Korea. It has been a travesty to have so many who grew up as Americans discover later in their lives that they were not full citizens. We urge Congress to pass this bill and deliver its promises made to these adoptees.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Global Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church:
“In the Hebrew Scriptures, there are three groups of vulnerable people mentioned repeatedly as individuals of special concern to God, whom he loves and whom he commands his people to love: the widow, the orphan and the immigrant. With the Adoptee Citizenship Act, Congress has an opportunity to correct a loophole that has exacerbated the vulnerability of individuals who have been both orphans and immigrants. Our laws should clearly affirm that adopted children belong in our country every bit as much as biological children born to U.S. citizen parents.”

Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“International adoptees, and those of us who are their families and friends, are grateful for the bipartisan Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018. We encourage Congress to provide a permanent legal remedy for the thousands of sons and daughters of U.S. citizens who were left in the gap of uncertainty.”

Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“I am thankful for this bipartisan, bicameral bill to close a loophole which has left the immigration status of far too many international adoptees in limbo. Our hope and prayer is that this small but important bill can expeditiously become law and inspire congressional action on much broader immigration legislation that our country greatly needs, especially a permanent solution for Dreamers and securing our borders.”

Evangelicals Engage in Prayer for Dreamers

Leaders Urge Congress to Pass a Solution

March 5, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today evangelical leaders are calling upon Christians to pray for Dreamers and urging Congress to resume negotiations to reach a permanent solution.

March 5 is the date that the administration set in September for the final termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Throughout the country, Christians are praying this week for Dreamers, their families, members of Congress, and the president. Along with Voices of Christian Dreamers, the Evangelical Immigration Table has prepared a Prayer Guide to help encourage people to pray.

While court decisions have allowed many DACA beneficiaries to file for renewal of their work authorization and protection from deportation, thousands still could lose their protections because renewal applications take several weeks or even months to process.

The result: Law-abiding employers would be required to lay off employees, and Dreamers and their families would face a sudden disruption of income and the risk of deportation.

The following are quotes from Evangelical Immigration Table leaders:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals:
“The gift of delay has been given to 700,000-plus who are caught in the politics of the DACA dilemma. But a few months of reprieve are not enough. Congress and the White House need to give the gift of permanent status to dreamers.”

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief:
“The Bible instructs us to ‘pray without ceasing,’ and specifically to pray for those in positions of governmental leadership. Our elected officials in Washington, D.C., need divine wisdom and courage to accomplish what has thus far eluded them, reaching a bipartisan consensus that will allow DACA beneficiaries and other Dreamers to earn permanent legal status and citizenship in the country they consider their home.”

Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities:
“Many students on Christian college and university campuses throughout the United States are Dreamers, immigrants brought to this country as children. They are campus leaders and classmates, teammates and mentors. If Congress fails to pass a permanent, legislative solution that addresses the rescission of the DACA program, not only these students, but their families, friends, educational institutions, employers, and religious communities will suffer for it. We continue to pray that Congress will act wisely, justly, and swiftly.”

Hyepin Im, President and CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment:
“As Dreamers throughout the country confront an uncertain future, Christians are uniting in prayer with and for them, asking God to intervene at what seems to be a political stalemate. While court decisions in recent days mean short-term relief for some, the long-term consequences of congressional inaction are stark. My prayer is that they will come together quickly, on a bipartisan basis, to find a solution that protects Dreamers and keeps families together.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador, The Wesleyan Church:
“We’re not just praying today for Dreamers—we have been praying for months and will continue to pray. Our faith is in a God who is larger than any political impasse. We’re asking Him to intervene on behalf of these young people who have been such a blessing to our churches, our communities, and the nation.”

Dr. Russell Moore, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“There is absolutely zero excuse for failing to provide a solution for Dreamers. Every week that Congress does not act, men and women created in the image of God will lose legal protections and work authorization. Families will face the risk of being torn apart. Let’s pray for and petition our elected leaders to find a way forward from this totally avoidable crisis and for our churches as they care for our neighbors in this new stage of uncertainty.”

Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“The wellbeing of Dreamers must not be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Our elected officials urgently need to resolve the status of DACA recipients and other Dreamers—and Hispanic evangelicals will be praying fervently for them until they do, while also praying for Dreamers, their families, and others directly affected by congressional inaction.”

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