Letter Urges Congress: Protect Vulnerable Children, Respond with Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C.Today the Evangelical Immigration Table is sending a letter to Congress, urging representatives and Senators to preserve laws that protect children and to help respond to migrant children with increased funding.

The letter comes as Congress considers not only the president’s supplemental budget request to respond to children who have migrated to the U.S., but also changes to laws designed to protect victims of human trafficking.

“Evangelicals are guided by Jesus’ admonitions to welcome and protect children (Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:37, Luke 18:15-17),” the letter states. “As our nation responds to this humanitarian crisis, we are thankful for laws that protect children and provide for their needs. While our systems are currently stretched, our laws uphold basic child protection principles.

The letter goes on to express concern about the possible weakening of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), enacted in 2008 and reauthorized in 2013. “The TVPRA ensures that victims of trafficking are not only identified and screened properly but that traffickers are penalized and brought to justice,” the letter states.

The letter also calls on Congress to ensure adequate funding for agencies that work with vulnerable immigrants including children, refugees and victims of trafficking: “We urge you to provide the necessary resources and policy guidance to address the current crisis, and then hold

the Administration accountable for fulfilling its responsibilities under the law. Robust funding is needed … Funds must not simply be transferred from one vulnerable population to another.”

The full letter is available here. Below are quotes from Table leaders regarding the letter:

Stephan Bauman, President, World Relief:
“Political expediency should not trump good policy. Many evangelicals worked hard to support the TVPRA in 2008 and in 2012 so to hear about potential rollbacks in protections for unaccompanied children is troubling. Urgent resources are needed to provide care for unaccompanied children, and Congress should support such funding needs without resorting to unnecessary changes in law that will weaken protections for children and be difficult to gain back if passed.

Dr. Russell Moore, President, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission:
“The refugee situation at the border is a moral crisis. There are no easy fixes, but we must start by seeing these children as what they are: loved by God and created in his image. We need to respond to this crisis in a way that honors both human dignity and national security.”

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“Children, created in God’s image, should never be unaccompanied, nor should they be exploited, trafficked or sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. I believe it is wrong for parents to send children to the U.S. border when the primary protective firewall for these children lies in a loving Christ filled home where faith, family and education stand prevalent. Correspondingly, as a nation and as people of faith, we must serve, heal and minister to those that have arrived in our nation because theirs, according to Jesus, is the kingdom of heaven.”

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“The evangelical community has a moral and biblical commitment to protect the most vulnerable. Ensuring due process for these displaced children fleeing violence, and economic deprivation is part of our Christian witness. Yelling at defenseless children and women is not the way forward.”

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