Evangelical Leaders Urge Against Cuts to Central American Foreign Assistance

 In Press Releases

April 10, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Evangelical leaders sent letters to President Trump and members of Congress this morning expressing significant concerns about the recent decision to withdraw foreign aid to the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in light of the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Halting U.S. aid programs specifically designed to address the dynamics of violence, corruption and poverty that are the root causes of migration will likely lead more people to feel they have no choice but to flee their homelands and seek protection in the United States or elsewhere,” the leaders write. They go on to suggest other policy changes that could help address the crisis.

The letter comes as the House Foreign Affairs Committee holds a hearing this morning on the importance of U.S. assistance to Central America.

The following are quotes from Evangelical Immigration Table leaders:

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals
“God blesses us so we can bless others. America is blessed and we are called to bless Central America … Go see the good done through U.S. aid in Central America. I went. I saw. U.S. foreign aid makes me proud of my America.”

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief
“We believe the vice president has it right in stating, ‘People will stay home if they believe there’s a brighter future for them there.’ As Christians, we believe we have the responsibility and privilege to advocate for a solution to the border crisis that maintains our historic U.S. investment in support of effective programs that save lives from violence, injustice and poverty in these nations.”

Shirley Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities
“One of the most foundational passages in the Bible, found in Genesis 1, is the truth that every human being is made in the image of God. As Christians, we believe that as divine image-bearers, all people have inestimable value and dignity before God and deserve honor, respect and protection. Our faith calls us to care for those who are most vulnerable, and we are deeply concerned by the recent announcement halting foreign aid to Central America.”

Hyepin Im, President & CEO, Faith and Community Empowerment
“Many of the aid programs in Central America supported by U.S. funds are operated by faith-based organizations doing courageous and effective work to reduce poverty, corruption and violence. The crisis at our border is a humanitarian crisis fueled by perilous conditions in these particular countries, and withdrawing this aid will only make the situation worse — in those countries and, subsequently, at our border.”

Jo Anne Lyon, Ambassador and General Superintendent Emerita, The Wesleyan Church:
“No one makes a decision to leave their home and their country and make a long, dangerous journey to the U.S. unless they’ve reached a point of desperation, pushed out by conditions of violence or poverty. Even as we seek to follow the biblical command to welcome those who do make the difficult decision to migrate, we also should do all we can — through our churches and ministries but also through our government — to eradicate the conditions that have led so many people to feel they have no choice but to flee. This decision to cut funds that assist vulnerable people in Central America is not just counter-effective, it’s also cruel, and I hope it will be reconsidered quickly.”

Russell Moore, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention:
“The United States should never leave the vulnerable to suffer in our own hemisphere when we have the ability to do otherwise. History shows us the consequences of such decisions. As an American, I fear that a removal of aid in these countries will only exacerbate the challenges we face with migration. As a Christian, I am deeply concerned for the well-being of all those who may experience harm apart from aid and moral leadership provided by the Untied States. My prayer is that this decision would be reversed.”

Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
“The countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are home to many Christian brothers and sisters, including a higher share of evangelicals than most other countries in Latin America. The whole of the body of Christ suffers with our brothers and sisters who are afflicted by poverty, governmental corruption or gang violence. President Trump is absolutely right to call the situation at our border a humanitarian emergency, and it does require an urgent response, but cutting off aid programs that address the root causes of migration in Central America is not the solution.”

Edgar Sandoval, President, World Vision U.S.
“A few months ago, I was in Honduras and Guatemala, witnessing the impact and infusion of hope that strategic investment can bring for people living in poverty. One farmer in Honduras told me that had he not received help from World Vision’s livelihood project, he would have migrated.

“That’s why I am extremely concerned by the president’s decision to cut foreign assistance to Central American countries. Foreign assistance has proven to be a small but crucial investment in the region, boosting the efforts of humanitarian organizations to bring hope to the most vulnerable. This decision will have the opposite of its intended effect, allowing the root causes of migration, such as poverty, violence, and lack of opportunity, to continue driving migrants north.”

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