Evangelical Leaders Urge Congress to Support Afghans Fleeing Persecution
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today evangelical leaders sent a letter to members of Congress, urging legislation to ensure that Afghans recently paroled into the United States are able to access the same governmental support and opportunity to pursue permanent legal status as people admitted through the traditional refugee resettlement program.
“Local churches and other non-governmental organizations within our communities are already stepping up to welcome our new Afghan neighbors in remarkable ways, motivated by the many biblical calls to practice hospitality and to honor the image of God in all people,” the letter reads. “Many evangelical Christians in the U.S. feel a particular obligation to these Afghan allies because our government made a commitment to protect them and their families on account of their service to and sacrifices for our nation.”
The government also has a vital role, the leaders contend, in “both thoroughly vetting the individuals who are arriving and in assisting these individuals to resettle and integrate into new communities.” The leaders specifically urge the Congress to pass legislation that would authorize Afghan humanitarian parolees to receive the same governmental support as those resettled as refugees and, like refugees, to be allowed to apply for permanent legal status, without the need to work their way through an already overburdened asylum system.
The leaders also underscore their concerns for the many Afghans who were left behind in Afghanistan and remain at risk, including many who helped the U.S. military and other American efforts. The leaders urge members of Congress to do everything in their power to ensure that these individuals can escape and, as appropriate, be offered resettlement in the United States.
The following are quotes from Evangelical Immigration Table leaders who signed the letter:
Myal Greene, President & CEO, World Relief:
“Tens of thousands of Afghans have fled the evil of the Taliban, and many others remain at risk within the country. As we continue to advocate for those left behind, World Relief is preparing to welcome thousands of those who were able to be evacuated. In partnership with local churches and volunteers, we’re committed to helping these new neighbors integrate into communities throughout the United States. However, that long-term integration, which is in the interest of both these Afghans and the communities that receive them, will be hampered unless Congress takes action, ensuring that Afghan evacuees who have been paroled into the U.S. are treated the same as refugees in terms of governmental support and the opportunity to pursue permanent legal status and eventual citizenship.”
Chris Palusky, President & CEO, Bethany Christian Services:
“Many of the Afghans who will be resettled in the U.S. in the coming weeks directly supported the U.S mission in Afghanistan. Other Afghans who will soon be our neighbors fled threats upon their lives because of their jobs as humanitarian workers, human rights activists, or journalists. Helping them find safety in the U.S. is the least our nation can do. To truly welcome our new neighbors, we must help them begin their path to self-sufficiency with the same benefits available to all resettled refugees. Ensuring they have a path to legal permanent status in the U.S. — and do not have to fear deportation to Afghanistan — is vital to achieving the dignified welcome they deserve.”
Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“In many of the congregations that make up the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, there are church members who have been living for years or even decades with temporary legal status and work authorization — whether through Temporary Protected Status, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or other programs — that must be renewed on a regular basis. Even as we advocate for these individuals to have the chance to apply for the permanent status and then eventually citizenship that would rightly affirm that they fully belong in our country, we also do not want to see our new Afghan neighbors put into a similar circumstance with parole status that will expire. Congress should allow these Afghans the opportunity to apply for permanent legal status just like those resettled as refugees.”
The Evangelical Immigration Table is a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.