Evangelical Leaders Respond to Biden’s Border Visit, Participation in Leaders’ Summit
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Amid a series of new policies intended to address the challenges at the border and President Biden’s first visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, several prominent evangelical organizations sent a letter to both President Biden and congressional leaders.
The letter affirms the president’s attention to the border and several specific policy proposals, including processes to facilitate lawful entry for those who may face persecution in their countries of origin without the need to make a dangerous journey to the border to request asylum.
However, the leaders note with concern some elements of the president’s proposal. “Just as we did when the previous administration proposed similar policies, we object to proposed new rules to restrict eligibility for asylum for those who have passed through other countries – including countries without a demonstrated ability to ensure adequate protection from violence or to adjudicate large numbers of asylum requests – en route to the United States,” the letter says.
“We urge the Biden administration to reverse this proposal and to continue to respect our country’s moral and legal commitments to due process for those who profess a credible fear of persecution, regardless of their country of origin or mode of entry.”
The letter notes that, ultimately, bipartisan legislation is needed to resolve the challenges facing border communities and urges the new Congress “to set aside partisan differences and forge consensus to address the crisis at our border in ways that both prevents those without authorization from entering and remaining in the United State unlawfully and ensures that those who profess a credible fear of persecution are treated humanely and receive due process as they seek to avail themselves to the protections offered by U.S. law.”
The following are quotes from several leaders of evangelical organizations that signed the letter:
Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“We appreciate the administration’s efforts to facilitate new opportunities for lawful entry for those who have fled incredible hardship in Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela, which are both compassionate policies and will go a long way in reducing the pressures at the border. However, our nation ought not turn our back on our legal and moral commitment to offer asylum to those who can demonstrate a credible fear of persecution, regardless of their mode of entry. As Christians who believe that each human life is fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image and thus worthy of protection and preservation, we insist that our government respect due process for those fleeing persecution.”
Jenny Yang, Senior Vice President for Advocacy & Policy, World Relief:
“We are encouraged by the expansion of legal avenues for those who have fled countries where people are enduring incredible hardship. However, such processes should not be paired with new restrictions on asylum for those with no other avenue for protection under current U.S. law but for reaching the U.S. border to seek asylum. We urge President Biden to work with Congress to develop a pathway forward that both protects our nation’s borders and respects the dignity and value of all human life, especially those who are vulnerable.”
Tawnya Brown, Senior Vice President of Global, Refugee, and Immigrant Services, Bethany Christian Services:
“Bethany welcomes the expansion of lawful pathways for entry for individuals facing humanitarian risks, but is deeply saddened at the decision to expand Title 42 – a harmful and inhumane policy – to include people from Haiti, Cuba, and Nicaragua. While this new program will enable certain people to apply for parole to the U.S., the program doesn’t account for the most vulnerable who are seeking safety and will hurt those who have already traveled thousands of miles to do so. We urge the Biden administration to urgently work with Congress to prioritize passing comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform that will create equitable and permanent solutions for vulnerable migrants fleeing persecution and seeking to build a new life in our country and strongly urge the administration to reconsider their decision to expand Title 42.”